Tom Hicks is getting squeezed from every direction

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Liverpool FC.jpgAs you all are probably getting sick of me reminding you, Tom Hicks is busy trying to figure out a way to make the Hicks Sports Group’s creditors happy so that the Rangers sale to Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan can go through. So he probably didn’t need this: The Royal Bank of Scotland — to which Hicks and his fellow Liverpool FC owners owe 100 million pounds — has given him until April 6th to pay back the money. Most people thought he had until at least July. Nope. He needs the dough now.

In the meantime, some New York investors known as the Rhone Group — who are obviously no dummies — have offered Hicks exactly 100 million pounds for a controlling interest in Liverpool FC. Assuming he accepts the offer within the next 20 days, that is.  According to this article, Hicks rejected offers of as much as 500 million pounds for that stake just two years ago, however, and it’s an open question what the EPL would think about a guy torpedoing franchise values so severely in one fell swoop, so it’s possible that they wouldn’t allow the bargain basement sale to the Rhone Group to even happen.

The baseball point? As Maury Brown has astutely reminded me, the real hiccup in the Rangers deal is not the creditors accepting anything new from Greenberg. It’s the creditors making their peace with Hicks (i.e. the man whose business ran up the debt). Specifically, Hicks needs to kick in more cash from his take of the sale, or else the creditors won’t sign off. Only now it seems that Hicks has to kick cash all over the place lest he lose his soccer team in a foreclosure proceeding or, at best, take a royal bath on his investment.

Can Hicks print money?  If he’s going to sell his baseball team and keep his soccer team, he’d better figure out how to.  Here’s some irresponsible advice for Hicks:  take the 100 million in cash, kick the dough into the Rangers sale, and when the Royal Bank of Scotland comes knocking on the door for their money pretend you don’t speak British.

You can have that one for free, Tom.

Great Moments in Not Understanding The Rules

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Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.

On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?

This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:

Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.

I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.

A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.

This is the second time in three years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.

I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.

Hall of Fame voters are making news, not exercising democratic rights

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Associated Press
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Last month the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to make all Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with next year’s vote for the 2018 induction class. In the past 24 hours or so, as this year’s Hall of Fame voting period comes to a close, a lot of folks have been talking about that. Most notably in Jayson Stark’s piece over at ESPN regarding next year’s brave new public world.

Stark is pro-transparency on the ballots, as are the vast majority of BBWAA members who voted on the public ballot measure (it passed 80-9). Not everyone Stark quotes in his article is on board with it, though:

“I’ve already seen a lot of people change their votes from one year to the next,” said one of the strongest dissenters to this decision, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “People have changed their votes based on public opinion.”

Two other sources in the story, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report and a voter who asked to remain anonymous equated their Hall of Fame vote with democracy and invoked the sanctity of the secret ballot. “The No. 1 reason I was against this rule is that in this country, it’s a democracy, and everyone has a vote on different things. And I hate to see a blanket rule that forces everyone to go in one direction,” Miller said. Here’s what the anonymous guy said:

“To me, a secret ballot is a fundamental of democracy. You should be able to vote your conscience without having to explain your vote. But once it’s public, you’re open to public pressure. And that’s not what we want in a democracy. We’re not elected representatives. We’re chosen to be part of a voting group.”

This is ridiculous of course. Voting for the Hall of Fame is not exercising democratic rights. It is making news and making history. Hall of Fame voters are making decisions which will fundamentally alter baseball history and which matter greatly to a large number of baseball fans. They are not advancing their own or society’s interests at the ballot box the way citizens do on election day. Despite the fact that the form of their action here is, technically speaking, a ballot, they are making news in the same way a GM makes a news with a trade, the commissioner makes news with a rule change or a team makes news by winning a World Series.

Would any of these voters — who are credentialed members of the media, by the way, and like to style themselves as truth-seeking members of the Fourth Estate — accept silence from the people who make the news on the beat they cover? Would they be content if the newsmakers whose acts they chronicle demanded anonymity the way they themselves do now? Of course they wouldn’t. And if they got the same silent treatment they’d prefer to give, they’d write one of those petulant little columns they love about players who “duck the press” after a game.

Suck it up, journalists. Act the way you expect the newsmakers you cover to act and own your decisions. Don’t pretend for a moment that you’re not the subject of, and not the reporter of, the story when Hall of Fame season comes around.