Bankruptcy trustee tells the Rangers to get new lawyers

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Many people thought it problematic when it was revealed several months ago that Tom Hicks was both (a) selling the Rangers; and (b) part of the ownership buying the Rangers.  Different capacities, sure, in that Tom Hicks the individual was buying from an entity — Hicks Sports Group — that Hicks just so happened to own and run, but it is the kind of thing that raises eyebrows among those who are not used to the often convoluted and incestuous world of closely-held corporations.

But public perception may not be the only problem. The trustee overseeing the Rangers’ bankruptcy has a problem with at least one aspect of the overall arrangement, and that involves the law firms.  Take it away Barry Shlachter:

U.S.
Trustee William Neary asserted that all of the work – and millions
in fees – Weil Gotshal & Manges received from team owner Tom Hicks
jeopardized the fairness and transparency expected by the
public, including Rangers fans. Attorneys for the baseball
franchise are charged with acting in its best interests, not that
of the outgoing ownership.

“Undoubtedly, Weil
Gotshal & Manges’ role evolved and shifted as events
transpired before the bankruptcy case, but it was WGM’s responsibility
to focus on the conflicts issue,” Neary said in the filing with a
U.S. bankruptcy court in Fort Worth.

Weil Gotshal denies any suggestion that it was conflicted, of course.

My view: I’m just a dumb litigator who nobody ever let near the table when a complicated deal was being negotiated, but it’s not like having the same law firm all over a transaction like this has never happened before. There are a lot of ways to guard against conflicts when you have hundreds and hundreds of lawyers you can throw at a deal, many of whom don’t even know one another.  Best practice in the world? Nah, but it’s not, in and of itself, fatal.

In light of that my guess is that there was something specifically troublesome that either Hicks or the law firm was doing during the course of this deal that raised the ire of the trustee. These things tend to get ironed out pretty quickly, however, and my guess is that the law firm problem doesn’t cause any big hiccup in a deal that has enough other hiccups.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?