As I admitted yesterday, I had not had not yet had a chance to read the judge’s decision in the Rangers’ bankruptcy case. I read it last night, however, and in light of that it’s probably worth dialing back my initial reaction a bit.
Yes, this was still a setback for the Rangers and the sale of the team. Neither the parties nor those who followed last week’s hearing expected the decision that the creditors’ rights were impaired. Indeed, the fact that Nolan Ryan and others close to the Rangers felt comfortable talking about potential trade targets in recent days suggests that they expected the judge would OK the prepackaged plan with little fuss. The court’s ruling yesterday constitutes fuss, however, and the team does need to do some work in order to get through the process and have the team sold.
But it’s not as huge a fuss as it first seemed yesterday. Yes, the creditors now have a right to vote on the bankruptcy plan which, if they had not been found to have had their rights impaired, they would not have. I was wrong in suggesting yesterday, however, that the creditors could block the sale to Greenberg. The vote they now have is on the bankruptcy plan, not a veto over the sale.
The only way the sale itself could be hindered is if, for some reason, the Rangers do not restructure the bankruptcy plan in a way that gives the creditors the rights (e.g. the right to sue for damages, etc.) that the judge says they have. Given that the Rangers and creditors will be working with a mediator on this, that seems rather unlikely. It would also be rather stupid of them not to make the necessary changes.
But while my initial reaction was a bit overheated, it would probably be wrong to swing the pendulum too far back the other way as well. This decision, while not as devastating as initial reports first made it seem, does occasion delay and at least a possibility that more bumps could form in the road ahead. After all, if you give lawyers enough time to talk about something, they’re likely to come up with seven problems no one ever considered in the first place. And of course delay and uncertainly was exactly what the team’s bankruptcy filing was designed to avoid in the first place.
Nevertheless, while the news was not good for the Rangers, it was not as bad as my report and the reports of others made it seem. Such are the perils of blogging, of course, but when it comes to legal stuff like this I, more than anyone, should know better than to go all ready-fire-aim like this. I’ll try not to do that again.
Note: a mighty shoutout to Baseball Time in Arlington on this point is in order. BBTIA correctly illustrated how the media — and particularly I — got sloppy yesterday in an effort to try and be first and fast and all of that. I’ll gladly take my spanking from them in exchange for their handy digest of all of the day’s coverage of the decision, to which they link.