Which Sports Teams Could Face Bankruptcy Threat?

Bankruptcy, MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL

Posted By: Darren Rovell | Sports Business Reporter
09 Oct 2008 | 09:51 AM ET

In the midst of the greatest economic freefall this country has ever seen, one of the most popular topics among those in the sports finance world is which team, in which league, will file for bankruptcy first and when.

With Jeff deGraff, the top tech analyst on the Street, predicting last night on CNBC’s “Fast Money” that we are “probably in the fifth inning” of the meltdown, sports teams and their owners can’t possibly be immune, with billions and billions of dollars lost.

Let’s start with the “when.”

The best guess, according to those in the know, is that if the bear market continues, a team will likely file for bankruptcy by February or March. Who is it going to be? It’s hard to say unless you analyze every owner’s unique financial situation. But it’s generally believed that if a team files in the near future, odds are it will be an NHL team, they reason. That’s because it’s the sport with the least cash flow and probably has the owners with the lowest net worth. In fact, since 1974, a major professional sports team has filed for bankruptcy five times and every single one of them was a National Hockey League Team.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins filed for bankruptcy in 1974 and 1998, the Los Angeles Kings filed in 1995 and the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres filed for bankruptcy within days of each other in 2003. In June of this year, Nashville Predators co-owner William “Boots” Del Biaggio filed for Chapter 11.

Although owners love their sports teams, it’s undeniable that many of their businesses are also losing money and that means, at some point, a team has to go. And once one owner does it, it’s very possible that the financially strained in the toughest markets could go running to the courthouse to try to salvage something.

Bain Capital was laughed at when it was reported that they offered $4 billion to buy the entire NHL in 2005, as the sport endured a full season of sitting out from the lockout. That deal would have put the average franchise at $133 million. Almost four years later, that number looks pretty good.

The Los Angeles Dodgers Win a Playoff Game Before a Record-Breaking Crowd and Vin Scully at Chavez Ravine


Associated Press

Dodgers Beat Phillies, Fight Way Back Into NLCS

LOS ANGELES (AP) -Tired of getting brushed back in the NL championship series, Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers came out ready to fight their way back against Philadelphia.

Blake DeWitt’s bases-loaded triple off Jamie Moyer capped a five-run first inning, and the feisty Dodgers beat the Phillies 7-2 on Sunday night to trim Philadelphia’s lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

The benches and bullpens emptied moments after Los Angeles starter Hiroki Kuroda threw a pitch over Shane Victorino’s head, with an angry Ramirez barking at the Phillies during the dustup.

But there were no punches or ejections, and the Dodgers played with poise all night.

Kuroda pitched effectively into the seventh for Los Angeles, which will try to even the series Monday night. Game 1 loser Derek Lowe, working on three days’ rest, will face Philadelphia’s Joe Blanton in a matchup of right-handers.

Kuroda buzzed Victorino in the third, apparently an attempt to retaliate for Philadelphia’s Brett Myers throwing behind Ramirez in Game 2.

Plate umpire Mike Everitt immediately warned both teams. Victorino shouted at Kuroda while pointing at his own head and upper body as if to say: “It’s OK to throw at my body, but not my head.”

Victorino grounded out to first baseman Nomar Garciaparra and then exchanged words with Kuroda near the bag. Both dugouts emptied and the bullpens followed, but no punches were thrown and there were no ejections.

Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa and Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes appeared to be two of the angriest participants in the near-scuffle, yelling at each other before the teams cleared the field. Ramirez also came in from left field to bark at the Phillies and had to be restrained by teammates, manager Joe Torre and an umpire.

Myers threw behind Ramirez in the first inning of Game 2 on Friday, and Los Angeles’ Russell Martin was brushed back as well. The soft-tossing Moyer hit Martin with a pitch in the first inning Sunday night, and reliever Clay Condrey knocked down the Dodgers’ catcher in the second.

Martin was hit by another pitch in the seventh, by Chad Durbin, drawing a boos from the crowd and prompting Ramirez to climb to the top step of the dugout, but he took first base without incident.

The Phillies and Dodgers don’t have a recent history of animosity, unlike Boston and Tampa Bay, the ALCS participants. The Red Sox and Rays have played two peaceful games in their series after a nasty brawl in June.

The Phillies and Dodgers have played 11 times this year including eight in the regular season, with the home team winning every game. And the Dodgers’ 23-9 record at home after the All-Star break was the best in the majors.

Kuroda, a 33-year-old rookie making just the second postseason start of a career that includes 11 years in the Japanese Central League, gave up only five hits and two runs with one walk and three strikeouts before being relieved by Cory Wade with two on and nobody out in the seventh. Wade retired the next three batters to end the inning.

Kuroda worked 6 1-3 shutout innings in the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over the Cubs in the division-clincher Oct. 4. He was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Phillies during the regular season, allowing four hits and two runs in 13 innings.

The 45-year-old Moyer, who became the oldest pitcher to start a league championship game, lasted only 1 1-3 innings for his shortest outing since July 4, 1998 and gave up six hits and six runs.

The Dodgers had a 1-0 lead by the time Moyer had thrown five pitches on singles by Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier and Ramirez. Casey Blake singled in another run before DeWitt lined a 2-2 pitch into the right field corner to clear the bases and send the towel-waving, blue-clad fans at Dodger Stadium into a frenzy.

The Phillies got a run in the second on Ryan Howard’s leadoff double and a two-out, RBI single by Pedro Feliz, but Furcal hit Moyer’s first pitch over the left-center field wall to make it 6-1.

Moyer’s night was done after he retired Ethier on a fly to center. Six of the 11 batters Moyer faced hit safely, and he also hit a batter.

Nomar Garciaparra, making his first start of the postseason, hit a two-out, RBI single off J.A. Happ in the fourth to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 7-1.

The Phillies didn’t have a base runner after Feliz’s second-inning hit until Chase Utley doubled to start the seventh. Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell followed with singles to make it 7-2 and chase Kuroda. Wade worked out of trouble by striking out Jayson Werth before retiring Feliz on a fly to center and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs on a grounder to short.

Utley drew a two-out walk in the first for his fifth free pass in six plate appearances dating back to Game 2, and was thrown out trying to steal with Howard batting. It was the first attempted stolen base by either team in the series.

Ramirez, who entered with 18 hits in 53 at-bats 10 homers and 20 RBIs against Moyer in his career, raised his postseason RBI total to 72 – eight shy of Bernie Williams’ record. Ramirez also walked twice and flied to right.

The announced attendance of 56,800 – 800 over listed capacity – was the largest crowd in Dodger Stadium history. Tiger Woods was a guest in Dodgers owner Frank McCourt’s box, wearing a Dodgers cap and NL West division champions T-shirt.

Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of the last time the Dodgers won the NLCS, shutting out the New York Mets 6-0 in Game 7 at home. The Dodgers went on to win the World Series, beating Oakland in five games. This is the first time they’ve advanced past the first round since that time.

Notes: Moyer, who turns 46 next month, became the second-oldest pitcher to start a postseason game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The oldest was Jack Quinn, who was 46 years, 99 days when he started Game 4 of the 1929 World Series for the Philadelphia A’s. … The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Steve Garvey, Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey, who made up the Dodgers’ infield for a big league-record 8 1/2 seasons and played in the World Series in 1974, 1977, 1978 and 1981 World Series. … Martin stole second in the seventh for the first steal of the series.


LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers finally responded Sunday to perceived bullying tactics of the Phillies with an emotion-charged 7-2 victory in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, which was interrupted by a benches-clearing standoff in the third inning.

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Blake DeWitt capped a five-run first inning with a bases-loaded triple off Jamie Moyer, who also allowed RBI singles to Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake. The Phillies answered with a run off Kuroda in the second on a double by Ryan Howard and RBI single by Pedro Feliz, but Rafael Furcal homered on Moyer’s first pitch in the bottom of the second.

Benches and bullpens cleared shortly after Kuroda threw behind the head of Phillies leadoff hitter Shane Victorino with two out in the top of the third inning, triggering a warning to Kuroda and both clubs by plate umpire Mike Everitt.

Everitt interpreted the pitch to be retaliation for Phillies reliever Clay Condrey knocking down Russell Martin with a pitch at his chin in the bottom of the second inning. It was the second knockdown this series of Martin, who also was hit by a Moyer curveball in the first inning Sunday.

Hiroki Kuroda, who triggered the confrontation with a retaliatory purpose pitch, allowed one run over six-plus innings, another clutch postseason start after he beat the Cubs in the clincher of the NL Division Series last weekend.