"Padres owner John Moores has been noticeably absent from Petco Park for most of this season - a fact that's fueled speculation among fans and even players about the last-place team's leadership and direction.
Now we know one reason why he's been gone: After his wife, Becky, filed for divorce in January, he agreed to give her exclusive use of the managing partner's box in April, May, June and July, according to a filing in Superior Court.
The idea was to "minimize confrontation" between the two. It was a plan that seemed to work as it related to the team - at least until recently.
The two since have fought over access to the managing partner's box - a point that seems especially symbolic as the two sort out who ultimately will control the Padres, the couple's largest community asset.
"It would be detrimental to the continued success of the Padres and sound business reasons, if the respondent (John Moores) is prevented from conducting business in the Managing Partner's Box at Petco Park," John Moores' attorney, Robert Nachshin, wrote in a filing with the court.
Effective July 28, John Moores "unilaterally excluded (Becky Moores) from utilizing the owner's box," according to a filing by Becky Moores' attorney, Sandra Morris. As a result, Becky Moores sought relief from the court July 30 for allocation of the box. Judge Lisa Foster denied that request because it was "not an emergency." A hearing on the matter was set for October.
Meanwhile, John Moores was seen at Petco Park this past weekend in other boxes, such as General Manager Kevin Towers'.
Nachshin had argued that an equitable allocation of the box was "mathematically impossible" this season because Becky Moores already had used it for two-thirds of the season.
"(John Moores) must have access to the Managing Partner's Box for the remainder of the 2008 baseball season in effort to preserve the parties' largest community asset - the Padres - and promote the business of the Padres," Nachshin wrote. "(John Moores) is the control person for the Padres under Major League Baseball Rules and he is the public face of the Padres from an ownership standpoint."
In California, a spouse is entitled to half of community property, defined as assets acquired or income earned by a married person while living with his or her spouse. In February, when asked about how the divorce would affect the Padres, Sandra Morris said, "Everybody's got the best interest of the Padres in mind.""