The Rangers sale hits a snag. Again.

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I reported way back in December that Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan’s purchase of the Rangers was no done deal, that there were serious concerns that their offer was cash-light and debt-heavy, and too many people were owed too much by Tom Hicks to simply let the deal go through on the power of wishes, hopes and Nolan Ryan’s drawl.  At the time everyone — including Chuck Greenberg himself, who called me at home — told me I was wrong, and that things were smooth sailing.

Then a little problem with the creditors popped up, and once again I wrote about it.  Once again, people told me I was full of it, that the deal was all cream cheese, and why was I being such a negative nellie about it anyway?

As recently as a few days ago we were still getting those “this is a done deal” reports, the sort of which sound more like a press release than news.  But you’ll forgive me if I, once again, refuse to drink the Kool-Aid:

The sale of the Texas
Rangers stalled last week, sources said, after MLB informed the team’s
creditors that there would be delays in responding to the lenders’ concerns
about the deal.

The developments serve as
a challenge to would-be buyer Chuck Greenberg’s stated goal of having the
transaction closed by Opening Day, if it can close at all, the sources said . . .

. . . MLB, acting as
intermediary between the creditors and HSG, was scheduled to respond by Feb. 26
to their demand for more cash. On March 1, MLB informed the lenders that there
were delays but did not offer details for why the delays were happening, the
sources said.

Of the delays, one
financial source said, “I don’t even think a deal gets done at $300 million
from the banks’ perspective. It feels like they are spinning their wheels.”
Another financial source was not as pessimistic but conceded that the clock was
approaching midnight for getting a deal done by Opening Day.

The original basis of concerns I reported in December was that Greenberg’s group — which consists of a lot of investors banded together — didn’t have the cash.  In this, it’s like any other number of team purchases in recent years. Only in the post-2008 world, people aren’t as happy taking IOUs as they used to be.  While there was always some merit to those who gave blithe “everything is going to be fine” assurances before, right now people want their money, not promises. In light of this it doesn’t surprise me at all that the deal is hanging up like it is.

Will Greenberg and Ryan get the Rangers? I still think, yeah, it will probably happen.  Too many people want it to happen in order to stop it, and at some point, if the creditors become enough of a problem, baseball or someone may actually step in and help the buyers out in some way to get it done.  But please, everyone involved in this deal needs to stop pretending that we’re stupid for not buying their talking points.  This deal has been in some choppy water for a long time, and no amount of assuming its inevitability changes that.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.