The Rangers have failed to make deferred compensation payments for months

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The biggest reason the sale of the Texas Rangers still hasn’t gone final is because the team’s creditors are angry that all kinds of cash is coming off the top of the deal to go to Tom Hicks and others, leaving less for them.  One of the “others,” SBJ reports today, is a deferred compensation fund that the Rangers are required to maintain pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Yeah, they’ve been defaulting on that:

The Texas Rangers have been
in violation of baseball’s collective-bargaining agreement since at least last
season for failing to pay $39.55 million into a deferred compensation fund,
according to a letter sent on Oct. 22, 2009, by MLB executive vice president
Rob Manfred to the bidders for the ballclub. The MLBPA is aware of the
situation, Manfred wrote in the letter, and the union’s executive director,
Michael Weiner confirmed, in response to SportsBusiness Journal questions.

Weiner confirms that the team has not yet defaulted on any specific deferred compensation obligation (i.e. all players who have such arrangements have gotten all of their checks) but a violation is a violation, and if and when Chuck Greenberg gets the team, he’s going to have to replenish that fund with a cash payment.

There’s that word again. “Cash.”  The thing that some have reported this deal is short on. The thing that is still keeping the creditors from signing off on the sale.  You read stuff like this and you can’t help but wonder whether Greenberg has enough on the table right now.

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.