An ownership dispute between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his estranged wife will linger through at least a third of the 2010 season after a judge on Tuesday set a hearing for late May.
McCourt, mired in a divorce with wife, Jamie, had wanted the ownership issue decided by spring training.
The case has been cited as a distraction for the storied franchise at a time when the free agent market is heating up.
The hearing was cordial but contentious, with both sides lobbing accusations in legal and baseball parlance.
Dennis Wasser, Jamie McCourt's lawyer, complained that the proper documents to determine Frank McCourt's income and wealth hadn't been turned over.
"There's been game-playing in this case, and it's not baseball," Wasser said. "It's hide-and-seek."
He accused Frank McCourt of crying poverty and contracting a fictional illness, "RAIDS — Recently Acquired Income Deficiency Syndrome."
Frank McCourt's lawyer, Sorrell Trope, asked whether Wasser was arguing his case to Gordon or the two rows of reporters who attended the hearing.
"He's certainly not in the batter's box," Trope said. "He's out in left field."
Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon set a two-day hearing on spousal support payments for March 29 and said the ownership issue would be heard from May 24 to June 3.
'A distraction to management'
The Dodgers begin the regular season April 5 in Pittsburgh. Gordon agreed to move up the spousal support hearing from that date because Frank McCourt would be travelling with the team.
"It's obviously a distraction to management," Marc Selter, one of Frank McCourt's lawyers, said about the case after Tuesday's hearing.
Jamie McCourt has also sought nearly $488,000 a month in spousal support, but the figure is likely to change once a complete picture of Frank McCourt's finances is known.
Frank McCourt fired his wife as Dodgers CEO in October, along with her boyfriend-bodyguard. Jamie McCourt failed in her bid to be reinstated to the position.
It seems the McCourts' divorce will continue to produce distractions.
"More bombshells will come in this case," Wasser promised after the hearing.