The Dodgers may be on the brink of MLB takeover despite an early round win by owner Frank McCourt in bankruptcy court.

The Dodgers may be on the brink of MLB takeover despite an early round win by owner Frank McCourt in bankruptcy court. (KABC Photo)

The Los Angeles Dodgers may be on the brink of takeover by Major League Baseball despite an early round win by team owner Frank McCourt in bankruptcy court.

The Dodgers have been long considered the crown jewel of baseball, and now there is a real possibility the league could take that jewel away from McCourt.

In Delaware, where Dodger lawyers filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy motion, the judge allowed the team to draw an initial $60 million to maintain operations. That would include meeting Thursday's payroll.

The money comes from a financing agreement with hedge fund Highbridge Capital. Major League Baseball and its commissioner Bud Selig opposed that agreement.

The league believes real damage is being done to this franchise under McCourt's ownership.

In a court filing, MLB released the following statement:

"Having siphoned off well over $100 million of club revenues and obviously unable to distinguish between his personal interests and those of the club, Frank McCourt has driven the Dodgers into a liquidity crisis so severe that, absent extraordinary measures, the club would be unable to make its payroll."

And now MLB is looking into the possibility of taking the team away from McCourt.

"It's very difficult to see how McCourt can resist Major League Baseball, but legal matters can take some interesting turns and we'll just have to see," said UCLA law professor Lynn LoPucki. "At the next step, perhaps MLB asks for the removal of McCourt from his controlling position in the Dodgers. And that's where things will get very sticky."

Baseball's constitution allows Selig to take control of a team that seeks Chapter 11 protection, but the league first must file a motion seeking termination of the franchise. There is no timetable for that filing.

The league argued in court papers that the commissioner could terminate the Dodgers' right to operate the club as a result of the bankruptcy filing upon a vote of 75 percent of league teams.

For now, however, the two sides are content to keep the lights on, the players paid and the fans in the seats, pending a July 20 hearing on the financing.

This is all unfolding in the middle of a nasty divorce battle between Frank and his ex-wife and former Dodger CEO Jamie McCourt, who described the bankruptcy filing as disappointing. She said that Frank McCourt has a "rule or ruin philosophy."

A judge ruled in December that a postnuptial marital agreement that gave Frank McCourt sole ownership of the Dodgers was invalid. That cleared the way for Jamie McCourt to seek possession of half the team under California's community property law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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los angeles dodgers, mlb, john gregory
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