The Rangers sale hits a snag. Again.

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I reported way back in December that Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan’s purchase of the Rangers was no done deal, that there were serious concerns that their offer was cash-light and debt-heavy, and too many people were owed too much by Tom Hicks to simply let the deal go through on the power of wishes, hopes and Nolan Ryan’s drawl.  At the time everyone — including Chuck Greenberg himself, who called me at home — told me I was wrong, and that things were smooth sailing.

Then a little problem with the creditors popped up, and once again I wrote about it.  Once again, people told me I was full of it, that the deal was all cream cheese, and why was I being such a negative nellie about it anyway?

As recently as a few days ago we were still getting those “this is a done deal” reports, the sort of which sound more like a press release than news.  But you’ll forgive me if I, once again, refuse to drink the Kool-Aid:

The sale of the Texas
Rangers stalled last week, sources said, after MLB informed the team’s
creditors that there would be delays in responding to the lenders’ concerns
about the deal.

The developments serve as
a challenge to would-be buyer Chuck Greenberg’s stated goal of having the
transaction closed by Opening Day, if it can close at all, the sources said . . .

. . . MLB, acting as
intermediary between the creditors and HSG, was scheduled to respond by Feb. 26
to their demand for more cash. On March 1, MLB informed the lenders that there
were delays but did not offer details for why the delays were happening, the
sources said.

Of the delays, one
financial source said, “I don’t even think a deal gets done at $300 million
from the banks’ perspective. It feels like they are spinning their wheels.”
Another financial source was not as pessimistic but conceded that the clock was
approaching midnight for getting a deal done by Opening Day.

The original basis of concerns I reported in December was that Greenberg’s group — which consists of a lot of investors banded together — didn’t have the cash.  In this, it’s like any other number of team purchases in recent years. Only in the post-2008 world, people aren’t as happy taking IOUs as they used to be.  While there was always some merit to those who gave blithe “everything is going to be fine” assurances before, right now people want their money, not promises. In light of this it doesn’t surprise me at all that the deal is hanging up like it is.

Will Greenberg and Ryan get the Rangers? I still think, yeah, it will probably happen.  Too many people want it to happen in order to stop it, and at some point, if the creditors become enough of a problem, baseball or someone may actually step in and help the buyers out in some way to get it done.  But please, everyone involved in this deal needs to stop pretending that we’re stupid for not buying their talking points.  This deal has been in some choppy water for a long time, and no amount of assuming its inevitability changes that.

Minor League Baseball eclipses 40 million in attendance for 14th consecutive season

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Minor League Baseball announced on Wednesday that, for the 14th consecutive season, the league has eclipsed 40 million in total attendance. 20 teams set single-game attendance records and seven teams set franchise records for single-game attendance in their current parks.

ESPN’s Keith Law, who has been covering the minor leagues for quite a while, did the math:

Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O’Conner, whose most prominent stint in the public eye involved him disingenuously justifying the underpaying of his players, said, “Minor League Baseball continues to be the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that. For us to top 40 million fans for the 14th consecutive season despite the weather challenges our teams faced in April and May is a testament to the continued support of our loyal fan bases and the creative promotions and hard work done by all of our teams across the country.”

Major and Minor League Baseball are quite happy to make money hand over fist on the backs of their players, but are too cheap to pay them adequately for their labor.