The Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan group selected to buy the Rangers

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Well, they’re not buying yet. What they’ve won
is an exclusive negotiating window during which time they’ll hopefully
come to terms.  Most interesting aspect of this: Jim Crane was
reportedly the highest bidder, but he lost out. Dennis Gilbert was
reportedly a favored bidder due to his connections, but he lost
out too. Greenberg had Nolan Ryan in his camp, however, and apparently
Nolan can still bring the heat. Or at least the weight. Oh, and Tom Hicks is in the group too, which only goes to show that there’s no justice in the world. Dude bankrupted his previous ownership group and messed up a good EPL team too.  The fact that he got to pick an ownership group that included himself is, well, curious.

Bid politics aside, Greenberg has had a lot of sports ownership
experience. He was Mario Lemieux’s lawyer when Mario bought the
Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s the CEO of the Altoona Curve, and was
instrumental in getting them their (very nice) new stadium.  He also
owns minor league teams in State College, Pennsylvania and the Myrtle
Beach. They’re pretty well-run outfits as far as I can tell.

We lawyers are like a little sewing circle when we get together, and
the word on Greenberg in that circle is that he’s very aggressive and
very sure of himself, which makes him pretty par for the course as far
as baseball owners go.  The word on him also is that he, personally,
doesn’t have nearly the kind of money to buy a team himself, so it’s
likely that his ownership group is on the large side. This can work —
most people aren’t aware of this, but the original Steinbrenner/Yankees
ownership group had all kinds of minority owners, most of whom have
been bought out — but it can create problems as well.  We’ll see. Hopefully Hicks is relegated to silent partner status.

But at least things are moving forward. And Nolan Ryan is still on
board, which he wouldn’t have been with the other groups, and that
seems to matter to everyone involved.  The Rangers have a lot of talent
poised to bloom. Here’s hoping they’ll have an owner/gardener in place
that can ensure it does so.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.