Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ownership dilemmas continue to haunt baseball

Bud Selig is going to have a heck of a problem deciding who should own baseball teams over the last 18 months of his tenure as commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Just when you thought baseball might finally have a relatively smooth ownership transition on its hands, now comes word that the company of Jim Crane, the proposed new owner of the Houston Astros, was once accused by federal regulators of despicable treatment in the employment of women and minorities. It's unclear how much truth there was to these allegations, but they will make it hard for Selig and baseball owners to welcome Crane into their fraternity. Selig has been a vocal advocate of racial/gender parity in the front offices of baseball and it would be hypocritical of him to approve an owner accused of such heinous discrimination. And on this particular issue, I think Selig genuinely always tries to do the right thing and would cringe at the notion of selling one of his baseball teams to someone who expresses blatantly racist and sexist views.

At least Selig appears to be getting an assist in trying to rid baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers of Frank McCourt from Jamie McCourt, who apparently will ask for a forced sale of the team as part of her divorce proceedings. Selig has already taken control of the team's operations and may be forced to formally take control of and sell the team if McCourt has trouble making payroll at the end of May, as rumored. The commissioner is already probably compiling a short list of possible owners of the Dodgers, looking for someone with a better profile than McCourt or Crane.

Add to this the ongoing mess in New York as the Mets seek a minority owner and it seems ownership dilemmas will continue to haunt Selig through his expected retirement at the end of next year. But if he can place these teams with competent, credible owners, he can go out on a high note.

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