Bud Selig's battle to sell the Rangers

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The daily blow-by-blow of the legal battle involving the sale of the Texas Rangers has gotten so technical and boring that it’s understandable if you’ve tuned out by now.  But the big picture is still a fascinating one.  Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of it all is that, at its heart, the Rangers sale is all about Major League Baseball insisting and expecting that it be allowed to act differently than just about any other business in America.

As the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson report in a nice 10,000-foot view article today, baseball doesn’t expect its owners to sell to the high bidder and it doesn’t expect to have to explain why the lower bidder should win.  Except now it’s in federal court, and federal judges are decidedly hostile to anyone who expects them to uphold and apply self-interested and economically illogical policies like that.

I blame Oliver Wendell Holmes. He’s the guy who gave baseball its antitrust exemption all those years ago, thereby infusing its leaders with the belief that the laws really don’t apply to them, even beyond the relatively narrow — and increasingly narrowing — confines of Holmes’ original exemption. It’s what led to the owners treating the players like cattle long after labor enlightenment came to the rest of the workforce. It’s what has helped foster the clubby and insular environment in which owners operate even until today.

Sad really. And though I think it’s asking too much for the Rangers’ bankruptcy to blow baseball’s antiquated and anti-competitive system to bits, I think it will serve as an important step in that direction.

Report: The White Sox and Diamondbacks are in on Manny Machado

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Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.

The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.

The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.

The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.