Day two of that fun Texas Rangers hearing down in Forth Worth and the highlight so far — thanks to some live tweeting by SBJ’s Daniel Kaplan — is Nolan Ryan on the witness stand. Among the tidbits he dropped during his testimony, which concluded a few minutes ago:
- The team is being forced to deplete its minor league
system because of the bankruptcy;
- The bankruptcy is preventing the Rangers from signing international players. Ryan says that because of this “there is a void in our system”;
- The bankruptcy could prevent the team from buying a new
video board, priced between $5 million and $12 million;
- Because of the bankruptcy, other teams are starting to poach Rangers’ scouts;
- A prolonged bankruptcy could cause the team to lose Josh Hamilton;
- Bankruptcy aside, the team is running $5 million ahead of budget projections in revenue this year, presumably because they’ve been winning.
- The team expects to sell playoff tickets this year, which will bring in between $11 million and $14 million.
That’s all interesting, but it’s worth noting that Nolan Ryan has every incentive — not just as the Rangers’ President, but also as
its prospective new owner — to get the team out of bankruptcy as soon as possible. That means that a doomsday scenario for the Rangers-in-bankruptcy is in his own best interests in this particular hearing, because if it’s truly doomsday, Greenberg and Hicks’ position — auction the team yesterday before other bidders can improve their chances at landing the team — should win. That doesn’t mean that he’s not telling the truth, but I’m betting there were a lot of “coulds” and “mights” in Ryan’s testimony today.
The judge seemingly took Ryan’s testimony with a grain of salt. According to Kaplan, after Ryan was done, the judge observed that it was not the bankruptcy that was causing many of these problems for the Rangers, but the fact that they’ve been on a line of credit from Major League Baseball to cover expenses. Including, one assumes, scout salaries and signing bonuses for international players. Which is not to say that the bankruptcy is a good thing — it’s not — but blaming it for all the team’s financial problems seems pretty questionable to me.
The vast majority of the Rangers’ business issues right now are Tom Hicks’ fault, not the fault of the process by which the court is attempting to ensure that the creditors Hicks stiffed for so long get something approaching fair value in return. The suggestion that it’s the bankruptcy itself that is the real evil here seems wrong to me.