Talk about a potential culture clash: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appointed J. Thomas Schieffer, a former Texas Rangers president and a Lone Star State guy through and through, to oversee the floundering finances of the Los Angeles Dodgers as the team gets its house in order.
Schieffer, currently an attorney specializing in oil and gas investments, was formerly president of the Rangers from 1991 until 1999. His career at times has been closely intertwined with that of former President George W. Bush: he was appointed ambassador to Australia and Japan by Bush, and he was an investor during the Bush/Rangers era. His brother is Bob Schieffer, moderator of CBS’s Face the Nation.
Overseeing the Dodgers and untangling the team’s financial issues should be an interesting challenge for a former Texas legislator known for plain talk and not a little ambition. During his run with the Rangers, Schieffer pushed through the construction of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, sometimes by sheer will: he managed to convince local governments to authorize a half-cent sales-tax hike to help pay for the $191-million facility. In Los Angeles, he’ll have the power to go through finances; he’ll also have the power to reject any spending over $5,000 (in fact, he’ll be required to actually sign off on the check). The McCourts (and, to a much smaller extent, Fox before them) reorganized the Dodgers assets so the parking lots, ballpark and team were separate legal entities, with the Dodgers paying rent for Dodger Stadium. The McCourts say the reorgs were done within baseball’s revenue rules, but others weren’t sure: considering the Dodgers franchise has always been a cash cow, the team was conspicuous by its absence during discussions of teams paying a luxury tax.
He’ll also have the power to reorganize the once-proud Dodgers front office and will more than likely bring in some real baseball people. There are still a lot of good folks in the Dodgers front office, just none at the top. Some holdovers could be valuable: Tommy Lasorda is a smart, shrewd baseball guy with a distracting show-business side; getting baseball Tommy involved and banishing sideshow Tommy would be a good thing.
“We are very fortunate to have someone of Tom Schieffer’s stature monitor the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers on behalf of Major League Baseball,” Selig said via press release. “Tom is a distinguished public servant who has represented the nation with excellence and has demonstrated extraordinary leadership throughout his career. The many years that he spent managing the operations of a successful franchise will benefit the Dodgers and Major League Baseball as a whole. I am grateful for Tom’s acceptance of this role.”
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