Sports

McCourt’s Dodgers file for bankruptcy

One of baseball’s proudest franchises is in tatters, its future to be decided more in the courtroom than on the field.

The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court Monday, blaming Major League Baseball for refusing to approve a multibillion-dollar TV deal that owner Frank McCourt was counting on to keep the troubled franchise afloat.

McCourt, upset that baseball Commissioner Bud Selig rejected the proposed TV deal last week, hopes a federal judge will approve $150 million in financing to be used for daily operations, which would give him more time to seek a more favorable media contract. A hearing is set for today.

“The action taken today by Mr. McCourt does nothing but inflict further harm to this historic franchise,” Selig said in a statement.

The team owes former players millions. Even Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully is owed more than $150,000, court documents show.

The filing by a cash-starved McCourt comes days before he was expected to miss a team payroll on Thursday and possibly be confronted with an MLB takeover.

Legal observers expect MLB to contest McCourt’s request for filing bankruptcy, arguing the dispute should remain within the confines of baseball. Baseball’s constitution allows Selig to take control of a team that seeks Chapter 11 protection.

MLB would have to file a motion to seek termination of the franchise. A person familiar with the filing, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said MLB will wait to see what happens in the hearing before deciding which way to go.

The main issue is whether “the bankruptcy court maintains control of the proceedings or acquiesce to baseball,” said Edward Ristaino, who chairs the sports practice at the law firm Akerman Senterfitt.

MAUER TAKES GROUNDBALLS AT 1ST

Joe Mauer is still catching for the Minnesota Twins.

But the 2009 American League Most Valuable Player has, at least, begun to take groundballs at first base. Mauer got some work in at that position before Monday’s game against the Dodgers.

With teammate Justin Morneau out for several weeks following neck surgery, the Twins could use first base as a way to keep Mauer’s bat in the lineup when he needs a break from behind the plate.

SHORT HOPS

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right calf, took batting practice on the field for the first time and started a running program Monday. … Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton underwent another magnetic resonance imaging exam Monday to discover why he continues to feel soreness in his right elbow. … Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo’s broken left thumb won’t be examined until today, when he will likely undergo surgery. Cleveland promoted rookie third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall from the minors, hoping to spark their stagnant offense.

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