The Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan group selected to buy the Rangers

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Well, they’re not buying yet. What they’ve won
is an exclusive negotiating window during which time they’ll hopefully
come to terms.  Most interesting aspect of this: Jim Crane was
reportedly the highest bidder, but he lost out. Dennis Gilbert was
reportedly a favored bidder due to his connections, but he lost
out too. Greenberg had Nolan Ryan in his camp, however, and apparently
Nolan can still bring the heat. Or at least the weight. Oh, and Tom Hicks is in the group too, which only goes to show that there’s no justice in the world. Dude bankrupted his previous ownership group and messed up a good EPL team too.  The fact that he got to pick an ownership group that included himself is, well, curious.

Bid politics aside, Greenberg has had a lot of sports ownership
experience. He was Mario Lemieux’s lawyer when Mario bought the
Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s the CEO of the Altoona Curve, and was
instrumental in getting them their (very nice) new stadium.  He also
owns minor league teams in State College, Pennsylvania and the Myrtle
Beach. They’re pretty well-run outfits as far as I can tell.

We lawyers are like a little sewing circle when we get together, and
the word on Greenberg in that circle is that he’s very aggressive and
very sure of himself, which makes him pretty par for the course as far
as baseball owners go.  The word on him also is that he, personally,
doesn’t have nearly the kind of money to buy a team himself, so it’s
likely that his ownership group is on the large side. This can work —
most people aren’t aware of this, but the original Steinbrenner/Yankees
ownership group had all kinds of minority owners, most of whom have
been bought out — but it can create problems as well.  We’ll see. Hopefully Hicks is relegated to silent partner status.

But at least things are moving forward. And Nolan Ryan is still on
board, which he wouldn’t have been with the other groups, and that
seems to matter to everyone involved.  The Rangers have a lot of talent
poised to bloom. Here’s hoping they’ll have an owner/gardener in place
that can ensure it does so.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.