BOB: Some catching up to doby Brian Borawski
April 20, 2011
What did I miss?
I'm a Certified Public Accountant. While it seems like I'm busy most of the year, things get particularly challenging in February, March and early April, hence the sabbatical. It also seems like these breaks get longer every year, but the hope is to fix that going forward.
With that, I'm going to use this first column back to get back up to speed with the bigger stories. I won't be providing 100 percent of the details, but for those of you who read weekly and pick up the more “serial” aspects of some of these stories, it should be good enough to get you back to present.
How do you fire an owner?
Last summer, a group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan bought the Texas Rangers from estranged owner Tom Hicks. Now, just a few months later, Greenberg has been effectively pushed out. Greenberg said he stepped down because of differences between him and Nolan Ryan and a couple of other board co-chairmen. Ryan basically took over Greenberg's roles. Since then, the mystery hasn't been completely cleared and Greenberg didn't even show up for the ring ceremony to celebrate the Rangers' American League pennant.
Not to go all conspiracy, but there has to be a back story. Greenberg was the face of the purchase, although when it was all said and done, he had only a small ownership stake in the team. Now he's completely out of the picture and Ryan is in control. It'll also be interesting to see if anything happens with Greenberg's minor league stakes or if his name pops up when another team goes up for sale.
Houston Astros sale update
Drayton McLane, the owner of the Houston Astros, is now saying he thinks the team will be sold by summer. McLane has said he'd like to keep ownership of the team local and while it looks like there are three horses in this race, a group led by Jim Crane appears to be ahead of the pack. Crane almost bought the Astros in 2008 but the two parties couldn't agree on a deal. Crane was also an odd man out in the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers sales.
Crane is the CEO and founder of the Houston-based Crane Capital Group. Steve Greenberg of Allen & Company is handling the sale and in an interview, he talked about how Crane met most of the conditions. As always, there will probably be bumps in the road, but this looks like it might be a smooth transition assuming something weird doesn't happen.
Frank McCourt isn't out of the woods yet
Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt's marriage might be over, but his troubles don't appear to be settled yet. Last week, he got a second loan from Fox to meet payroll obligations and tied to all of this is the negotiations between Fox and the Dodgers that hasn't been approved by the league yet. In order to circumvent MLB's approval process, the loan was made directly to McCourt and not to the team.
One big wrench in all of this is that Dodgers attendance is down. The Dodgers are usually at or near the top of the National League in attendance, but after a few home games, attendance is down 8 percent. Of course that's pocket change considering the Dodgers are looking at a $3 billion deal in their television deal with Fox. That could solve all McCourt's problems.
Barry Bonds found guilty, sort of
Way back in 2007, Barry Bonds was indicted on a series of charges. Since then, it's been whittled down to one obstruction of justice charge and three perjury counts. After a few weeks of legal wranglings, the jury was hung on the perjury charges but found him guilty of obstruction of justice. So, in short, he was guilty of giving evasive answers to a grand jury but they couldn't find him guilty about telling a flat out lie.
The charges face a maximum of 10 years in prison but that's not likely to happen. At most, he'll probably see the inside of his house for a while. The big help that Bonds got was Greg Anderson still refused to testify. For his loyalty, he's spent the time during the trial in jail for contempt of court.
Now we have the appeal. In this interesting take on the verdict, it looks Bonds may be able to make a case and get out of this thing intact. The argument will stem around the judge's instructions to the jury and whether she made a misstep.
Mets close to selling stake in team
While the $1 billion securities suit hasn't gone away for New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, it does look like the team is close to selling a 25 percent stake. Late last week, a news report said the list of potential investors has been whittled down to four and that current ownership would like to decide in the next 30 days. That would leave things up to MLB, which would most likely approve the sale this summer.
The Tampa Bay Rays aren't going anywhere
It's funny how this stuff can spread like wildfire. What started out as a speculative story about the Tampa Bay Rays (and possibly the Oakland Athletics) contracting has spread in the past month. I'm not buying in and if you want some cold hard facts, be sure to check out Neil DeMause's work on the subject. One, the union won't ever tolerate it. Two, those teams aren't in as bad a shape as you might think. Good read, so be sure to check it out.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.