May 3, 2010, 10:59 AM EST
That’s the logical conclusion if what Sports Business Journal’s Daniel Kaplan is reporting is true:
MLB as soon as this week plans to dramatically alter the
course of the standoff between creditors and the owner of the Texas
multiple sources said last week, a development that could include the
seizing the franchise.
Were the league to seize the team under its “best interests of
baseball”rule, MLB could sell the club to the group led by Chuck
Nolan Ryan without, the league believes, the creditors blocking the
sources said. But were MLB to choose that course — and late last week,
situation was still fluid — financial sources predicted a furious
response from the creditors that could involve an involuntary
on behalf of the baseball team.
I get the reasoning: the creditors are owed money by Hicks Sports Group, the debt is not secured with a lien on the baseball team itself (MLB does not allow this) and Major League Baseball can kick Hicks Sports Group out of the ownership club if it wants to, leaving the creditors to fight with Hicks after the sale is done.
But such a move is almost certain to throw the whole matter into court, with the creditors almost certainly filing to get an injunction stopping the sale, because without the sale of the team at issue, the creditors lose all their leverage. Maybe they don’t get an injunction — if your beef is ultimately over money, you’re not supposed to be able to enjoin a business deal; rather, you’re supposed to let it all play out and get your money later — but depending on the court and the way the complaint is written and a bunch of other factors, it could happen. If so, and the Rangers are placed in legal limbo during the pendency of the lawsuit, the nightmare scenario that was described last week — indefinite MLB stewardship, no money for the draft, etc. — comes to pass.
But even if the sale is not enjoined, Major League Baseball is still stuck in a multimillion dollar lawsuit (and even if the sale is not held up over it all, you can bet that MLB will be named a party in the suit). The calculation, one presumes, is that baseball is better off having the Rangers in Greenberg’s hands while fighting a lawsuit than it is to remain in the current stalemate.
If so, it tells you how ugly the stalemate is, because lawsuits like this are never fun, especially if they have the potential to have outsiders probe specific-team finances, which Major League Baseball is historically loathe to allow.
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