BOB: Astros ownership limboby Brian Borawski
August 17, 2011
Astros ownership vote put on holdThis Thursday, MLB owners were supposed to vote on the sale of the Houston Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane. That vote has now been put on hold because MLB is saying that their due diligence isn’t completed. Drayton McLane got the call Sunday morning from Bud Selig and, ironically, Crane was scheduled to throw out the first pitch of the game that afternoon as a “passing of the torch” ceremony. Now, Astros fans not only have to deal with a poor product on the field (the Astros look to lose around 110 games this year), but also the ownership of the team is in limbo.
Crane has some issues in the past and while MLB has declined comment, it’s hard not to speculate that it’s either of those that are at the forefront of the league’s due diligence. One of Crane’s companies had a series of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints filed against it 14 years ago, but it looks like the big one is the claim that one of Crane’s businesses was charged with profiteering during the Iraq War.
McLane quoted Bud Selig as saying they’d just need a little more time and they’d get it done soon. Of course we know how the league can move at times, so at this point it's anyone's guess as to when the sale is finalized.
Frank McCourt updateYes, Frank McCourt couldn’t stay completely out of the news this week. The moral to the story is, divorce is expensive. I can attest to that personally. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s projected that they’ll see their revenue drop by $42 million since 2009, a year that coincides with both the last time the Dodgers made the postseason and the time that the McCourt’s announced their separation.
According to documents presented to the bankruptcy court, the Dodgers brought in $282 million in 2009. This year, they’re at $120 million for the first half of the year so even if they make that much in the second half, that will put them at just $240 million. There also was some explaining to do, because rent payments made to company’s owned by Frank McCourt were more than previously anticipated. The extra $8 million in rent was explained away as advance payments and accounting adjustments.
MiLB now has its own appLast week, Minor League Baseball unveiled a brand new Triple-A iPhone application. The price is right (it’s free) and the look of it should be familiar to those people who have the MLB.com At Bat application. I’ve downloaded it and it’s pretty sharp. I’m hoping at some point they implement the ability to listen to the games on your phone. I like the MLB.com application so much, I think I’m going to forgo my MLB.TV subscription (I rarely watch games anyway, I usually listen in) and just pay for the application so I can listen to games. I’d pay a little more to get access to Triple A games so I think they’re on the right path.
The application announcement came right at the time that MiLB.com announced record traffic. This June and July has been the best months ever since MiLB.com went live with 14.2 million visitors on the site in July alone. I remember listening to games on the website back in 2005 and I’m happy to see the site has taken off.
Tom Hicks looking at a lawsuitFormer Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks is being sued by his own former investors. I don’t have a lot of details on this, but a lawsuit was filed this Monday saying that Hicks used the Rangers to enrich himself at the team’s expense. At issue are some real estate purchases that Hicks made that, the investors claim, ultimately left the Rangers insolvent and without the money to field a competitive team. I wonder if the fact that the Rangers have been so quickly successful will be something that hurts the investor’s case.
Detroit Tigers extend PDA with WhitecapsThe Detroit Tigers and the West Michigan Whitecaps extended their Player Development Agreement through the 2018 season. Their current deal would have ended in 2014 and this extension will ultimately result in at least a 20 year relationship between the Grand Rapids area based team and the Tigers. The Whitecaps first became the Tigers affiliate back in 1997 and during that time, the team has won four Midwest League championships.
I haven’t been to a Whitecaps game yet. I had plans to do so back in June. I went to Chicago to meet up with some of my fellow THT writers to catch a Chicago White Sox game and stayed the night in Grand Rapids hoping to catch the Whitecaps game the next night but it wasn’t meant to be because it rained all day.
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.
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