Major League Baseball is getting angry at Tom Hicks

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While everyone keeps assuming that the sale of the Texas Rangers to the Greenberg Group is imminent and that no one should be worrying, the fact is that the Friday deadline has come and gone and there’s still no deal.  Could last month’s report of financial difficulties be the problem? Or is it something new? Jon Heyman reports that all isn’t as rosy as everyone wants it to seem, and the problem is Tom Hicks, who is acting as both seller and (minority) buyer in this deal:

But MLB has about had it with Hicks, and top officials say they may
soon take over the sale of the team, which potentially could bring the
other two hopeful buyers back into the picture, those being Houston
businessman Jim Crane, and former agent, and current White Sox executive, Dennis Gilbert, who has appeared to be baseball’s top choice from the start. The sale
price is expected to be $570 million, according to sources. One
impediment to a deal has been Hicks’ insistence upon maintaining
significant power even after collecting the sale proceeds. Greenberg’s
big edge had been that he was willing to allow Hicks to remain as a
board member who’d attend owners meetings.

MLB fronted Hicks millions in order to meet payroll and expenses last summer.  One wonders, based on what Heyman is saying, what kinds of strings were attached to that deal. Could they just step in and make the deal with Greenberg — or call Crane or Gilbert — against Hicks’ wishes?

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.