Taking note of San Diego’s lousy 2008 season, plummeting attendance and a global financial meltdown, the Union-Tribune’s Tim Sullivan pondes the franchise’s soon-to-be-divorced owner and proclaims, “If John Moores (above) is looking at liquidation, he’s sure picked a lousy time for it.” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Given the petty nature of the disputes that have become public during Moores’ divorce proceedings, the sale of a significant portion of the Padres has seemed inevitable for many weeks. Yet even if the divorce were more amicable, it would be difficult to bridge the irreconcilable differences between baseball’s requirement of a single controlling partner and California’s community property laws.

Splitting the couple’s shares in half would not resolve the issue of control. Owning half of the shares without control was sure to be an unsatisfactory arrangement for either party.

If John Moores is determined to retain his grip on a franchise Forbes valued at $385 million as recently as April, he must find other means to satisfy Becky Moores’ claim to half of their assets. Since the Padres represent such a large piece of the Moores’ financial pie, taking on baseball partners is probably a simpler solution than liquidating a wide-ranging empire.

Because of their wealth, their standing in the community and their ties to the Padres, Qualcomm Chairman Irwin Jacobs and his eldest son, Gary, are seen as likely buyers. (Gary Jacobs sits on the Padres’ board and is the CEO of the Lake Elsinore Storm.)

Yet the uncertainties of the economy, particularly as they pertain to discretionary products such as spectator sports, could discourage investors who might otherwise show interest. The uncertainties of minority ownership figure to narrow the field even further.

œI can’t see anyone putting up a couple hundred million dollars to watch someone else make decisions, said Bill Reik, a minority owner of the Cincinnati Reds. œSophisticated money doesn’t put up $25 million without control. If you’re going to put up $200 million, you’re going to want control, unless they can get an option or right of first refusal.