Because things aren't crazy enough: Mark Cuban may get in on the Rangers now

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I missed this from late last week, but Mark Cuban — who has been denying any interest in the Rangers for a solid year now — has changed course and may now get involved in the upcoming auction:

“The economics have changed, which has gotten me interested. My lawyers are still going through everything, but the bigger point is that I now have an interest . . . As I learn more I will have a better understanding about how aggressively I will pursue the interest and whether or not I will actually make a bid come the first week of August or whenever the court sets the date for bids.”

The most interesting thing in the article are the quotes from anonymous insiders who say that Cuban is “approvable” in the eyes of Major League Baseball.  While he was in on the Cubs bid a couple of years ago, there has long been a belief that Major League Baseball wants no part of him. He’s outspoken. He spends a lot of his own money. He blogs. He’s the kind of guy who Selig and his buddies simply don’t care for.

But he’s also no dummy. He suggests in the article that his interest may not be solely to bid for the team itself. Rather, he’d consider getting in on Greenberg and Ryan’s bid somehow, maybe as a “backstop.” That is, if they’ll have him.  And my guess is that if they somehow come up short in the bidding or if things get stretched out and Greenberg’s financing — which some have suggested includes some fickle investors — starts to crumble, they wouldn’t mind having Cuban come in with some serious cash to seal their bid. And at this point, anything that saves Greenberg/Ryan’s bacon is good with Major League Baseball.

My question is this: if Mark Cuban comes in as a minority owner in a Greenberg/Ryan ownership group, how long does he stay a minority owner? Because you can say a lot of things about Mark Cuban, but one thing you can’t say is that he gets off on being someone’s silent partner.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:

Tony Clark responds to Rob Manfred’s claim that union had a “lack of cooperation”

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.

Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.

Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”

“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”

“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”

“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”

Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.