The Rangers file for bankruptcy

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We’re still light on the details (Maury has the press release and some analysis), but the Texas Rangers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning. It was a voluntary filing that is being characterized as a “prepackaged” bankruptcy proceeding, which means that all the terms of the bankruptcy are agreed
to before filing, which can result in a shorter turnaround time.  The team is characterizing it as a necessary step to allow Hicks Sports Group to sell the team to Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan. The target date according to the filing: “midsummer.” You may recall that the Cubs did something like this prior to their sale to the Ricketteseseses.

This just came down so the details are still a bit sketchy, but something that sticks out to me is that the creditors of Hicks Sports Group — the ones who have been causing all the problems — aren’t part of the filing. If that’s the case, how could they have agreed to the terms of the “prepackaging?” Moreover, the verbiage in the press release says that the deal will provide “for all Rangers creditors to be paid in full.”  That can’t be technically right, because if there is enough money in the sale to fully satisfy all outstanding debts, the bankruptcy filing — which basically says that part X owes creditors more money than it has — would be tossed out, right?  This deal can’t be a “paid in full” thing. It has to be a “we’ve been paid enough to be happy” thing.

Another possibility — a pretty good one actually — is that there is separate deal in place between Hicks Sports Group and the creditors to settle the outside debt on some sort of payment plan or something else, but to do it outside the framework of the Rangers sale.*  If that were the case it would not necessarily have to be a part of this bankruptcy case. We just don’t know, however, based merely on the terms of the bankruptcy filing.  I will say that it would be pretty reckless for the team to file like this without any creditor signoff, official or otherwise, because it would invite the sort of proceeding — creditors going deep into the Rangers’ business — that they had been threatening to do back when they were at each others’ throats.

The primary upshot: there has to more going on here than meets the press release, probably in the form of some backroom dealing that will (a) keep the dirty financial laundry of the Rangers, Hicks and Major League Baseball out of bankruptcy court discovery proceedings but (b) makes the creditors happy. Otherwise, there’s no point to this filing.

Secondary upshot: if this is going down as the Rangers say it is, the team will be out of ownership limbo within a couple of months and, hopefully, able to resume normal operations, sign draft picks and add payroll in a way that a team in their competitive position should.

More on this, obviously, as the story develops.

*I’m aware that most of the debt at issue is not technically owed by the Rangers — it’s owed by Hicks Sports Group, thereby meaning that the big creditors like Monarch Alternative Captial couldn’t really go after the Rangers. But that’s kind of beside the point. All along these creditors have been making noises about dragging the team itself into bankruptcy if they weren’t paid, and it the suggestion has been strong that they would try to advance legal theories — however novel — that would allow them to encumber the team in order to get the money they are owed by Hicks.  For MLB and the Rangers to make this filing today, they have to think that such a move is not a threat.  This underscores my belief that some sort of side deal between Hicks and the creditors has to have taken place.

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.