Bloomberg News

Dodgers Bankruptcy Judge Strikes Fan Letters, Scrubs Docket

July 08, 2011

(Updates with comments from letters beginning in third paragraph.)

July 8 (Bloomberg) -- Los Angeles Dodgers fans can’t post anti-owner letters on the Major League Baseball team’s bankruptcy docket, a judge said, ordering them removed from the court record.

The letters, obtained before the judge had them deleted, included one from Greg MacDonald of Ontario, California, referring to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt as a “life-long snake- oil salesman.”

In another, Michael Evans of Artesia, California, wrote that Major League Baseball “created this mess” by not controlling McCourt. He urged an auction to someone who can make the Dodgers “the Yankees of the West.”

“The court well understands the right and motivation of fans to express their concerns for the baseball team they love and the court respects their passion,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross in Wilmington, Delaware, wrote today. “Nonetheless, it is not proper for the court to docket fans’ letters.”

Shareholders, employees and individuals owed small amounts of money sometimes send letters to bankruptcy courts complaining about the handling of a case. They have a legal right to participate because they are considered creditors. The fans whose letters were removed by Gross didn’t claim to be creditors.

‘They Owe Me’

MacDonald, 33, said he has been a fan of the Dodgers since 1986, when he was 8 and the team was still owned by the family of Walter O’Malley, who moved the club to Los Angeles from Brooklyn. He sent the letter to the judge because he feels like a creditor, even though the Dodgers don’t owe him any money, MacDonald said.

“They owe me a good product on the field,” he said in an interview today.

Dodgers spokesman Steve Sugerman declined to comment.

Ty Manion of Manhattan Beach, California, said in a letter that he arrived from Wisconsin in 1995 and became a Dodgers fan “over time.” He wrote that he has been discouraged by long concession lines that most recently made him miss four innings.

Colin True of Van Nuys, who described himself in a letter as a “lifelong baseball fan” in the Los Angeles area, asked Gross to help “this once proud sports franchise.”

Also today, Major League Baseball and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Highbridge Capital Management LLC submitted opposing letters about whether the bank should be forced to turn over documents tied to its proposal to loan the Dodgers $150 million.

Loan Documents Sought

The league said in its letter that it needs the information to prepare for a hearing this month about the proposed loan. Highbridge argued that the league can get any information it needs directly from the Dodgers.

The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy on June 27 after Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig named a monitor to oversee the team and rejected a proposed television-rights deal McCourt negotiated with News Corp.’s Fox Sports.

Selig appointed a monitor in part because of security concerns raised after a group of Dodgers’ fans beat a San Francisco Giants fan following a game this year, team attorney Bruce Bennett said in court yesterday.

Bennett said baseball’s reaction to the beating showed that McCourt is being treated differently by Selig, because other teams have had similar problems without a monitor being appointed. The league has denied that McCourt is being treated unfairly.

The bankruptcy case is In re Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, 11- 12010, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

--With assistance from Dawn McCarty and Michael Bathon in Wilmington, Delaware. Editors: Stephen Farr, Glenn Holdcraft.

To contact the reporters on this story: Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware, at schurch3@bloomberg.net; Phil Milford in Wilmington at pmilford@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.


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