The Rangers' sale deadline is today

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Tom Hicks has been told by Major League Baseball that he needs to pick the winning bidder in the Rangers’ sale today and to commence negotiations to finalize a deal.  No doubt today was picked as the deadline so that everyone can be free to celebrate my daughter’s sixth birthday later this evening.

Hicks may or may not meet that deadline the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports a source saying that it’s only 50-50 that he’ll pick today — but there is a clear front runner, at least on financial terms. It’s Houston businessman Jim Crane, whose bid is said to be higher than either Pittsburgh lawyer Chuck Greenberg’s or former agent Dennis Gilbert’s.

The article notes, however, that Crane is not a popular figure in MLB circles because he once reneged on a deal to buy the Astros. Also working against him is the fact that Gilbert is said to be a favorite of Jerry Reinsdorf, which automatically makes him a favorite of Bud Selig’s.  They’re a clannish bunch, those owners, and they like to reward their friends.

The lawyer and Tom Hicks-hater in me wants a low bid to win because if that happens maybe some investor in Hicks Sports Group will sue Hicks for breaching his fiduciary duties to the debt-addled company, which in turn will better expose the rampant cronyism that takes place in the franchise sale market. Plus, if Glibert wins, there are indications that hey’ll be baseball’s answer to Daniel Snyder, and that would be great fun for everyone except Rangers’ fans.

Likely? Nah. But a boy can dream, can’t he?

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.