LOS ANGELES The local headlines blare almost daily with new details about their impending split. Court documents are rife with he said, she said disagreements and details of lavish personal spending. Yet around the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse, the ugly split of Frank and Jamie McCourt barely registers a blip.
It doesnt exist to me, said catcher Russell Martin, whose season ended earlier this month because of a hip injury.
I dont think anybody in here even thinks about it unless the questions asked. Its not like a direct impact on our team and how we play or what we do. Franks not going to help us throw strikes or make a nice play on defense.
The McCourts filed for divorce last October. They havent agreed on much of anything during several months of expensive, high-profile legal wrangling.
The trial to decide ownership of the Dodgers is set to begin Monday in Los Angeles, with Frank McCourt claiming hes the sole owner, and Jamie arguing she owns half of the team.
Instead of Dodger baseball, the courtroom drama likely is to dominate the local headlines during the final weeks of the regular season.
I dont resent it, manager Joe Torre said. I worked for George Steinbrenner. I worked for Ted Turner. Those people didnt necessarily pick an off day to say things.
Maybe the team will make some news on the field, too.
The Dodgers have clawed their way back into the NL wild-card race. Their playoff hopes could be decided next week when they host contenders Philadelphia and San Francisco.
Under Frank McCourt, theyve reached the postseason four of the last six years and played within one step of the World Series each of the last two, falling to Philadelphia in the NL championship series both times.
Thats not easy to do, general manager Ned Colletti said.
Outside of celebrating postseason wins, neither McCourt has had a presence in the clubhouse, leaving Torre and his coaches, along with Colletti, to run the team.
They just handled the business side of it, outfielder Andre Ethier said of Frank and his soon-to-be ex-wife. It hasnt been any of our business all year. Thats the way weve tried to keep it.
Fox Corp. ran the Dodgers for six years, and the team never made the playoffs. The team hadnt won a playoff game since the 1988 World Series before McCourt took over in 2004.
But this season has been a whiplash ride of injuries and inconsistency with the starting rotation, bullpen and defense.
Top players like Manny Ramirez, Ethier, Rafael Furcal, and pitchers Chad Billingsley, Hong-Chih Kuo and Vicente Padilla all have been sidelined during various stretches. Reliever Ronald Belisario spent two months on the restricted list.
Outfielder Matt Kemp has made more headlines for dating Rihanna than trying to match his offensive performance of last season, and Ethier has struggled as well since breaking a pinky three months ago.
Sometimes you just have bad years, and things dont come together the right way, Ethier said. I wouldnt say you could blame it on the fact that the ownerships going through what theyre going through. They have given us the people to go out and do it, and its up to the players to execute and make it happen.
The Dodgers opening-day payroll of $94.9 million was down by more than $36.5 million from last years total. Frank McCourt declined to comment on the public perception that payroll has been slashed, and Colletti sidestepped the question when asked whether he feels hamstrung by the budget he operates under.
Its more important how you spend than what you spend, Colletti said. You could have a payroll of $150 (million), $175 (million) or $200 (million), but if you dont spend it on the right people, it doesnt make any difference.
The Dodgers didnt get the big bat or ace pitcher to put them over the top in the NL West by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Colletti was, however, hailed for pulling off deals despite the teams recent minimal investment in its minor league system.
The team picked up starter Ted Lilly and second baseman Ryan Theriot from the Cubs, who sent along $2.5 million to cover half of their remaining salaries this season. After struggling in Chicago, Lilly is 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers acquired setup man Octavio Dotel from Pittsburgh, along with $3 million to seal the deal. They also got outfielder and leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik from Kansas City and purchased the contract of outfielder-first baseman Jay Gibbons from Triple-A Albuquerque.
I wouldnt have acquired four players at the deadline and continued to look for some more relatively smaller pieces to fortify us the last quarter of the year if I had decided that this (season) was not salvageable, Colletti said.
They also recently signed their top draft pick, right-handed pitcher Zach Lee, and gave him a franchise-record $5.25 million bonus.
But when it comes to high-priced free agents, the Dodgers havent added any since Ramirez two years ago. Now its believed theyre looking to unload him and his big salary. He was placed on waivers and claimed by the Chicago White Sox this week, but a deal between the teams has yet to be struck.