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Jim Bunning doesn’t like how Major League Baseball shut Mark Cuban out of the ownership club

Jun 16, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

Mark Cuban horizontal

The Cubs were sold to the Ricketts family a couple of years ago, but former Senator and major leaguer Jim Bunning still doesn’t like how it went down. Specifically, as it related to Mark Cuban’s failed bid. And Bunning said that if a similar thing were to happen again — a prospective buyer being shut out the way Cuban says he was shut out — it could imperil the league’s antitrust exemption:

Cuban said in an interview last summer that he was cut out of the Cubs’ process, despite a $1.3 billion bid that was more than 50 percent higher than the Rickettses’ winning bid. He also said he was denied a chance to buy the Texas Rangers a year later after another bid that beat the winner.

“That’s where you could get something,” Bunning, who was in Philadelphia for a throwback weekend, said of a challenge to the exemption. “If somebody like Mark Cuban wants to buy a team and offers something like
$2 billion, and they tell him he can’t. If they made an exception for a specific sale, it would be against the antitrust laws [and spirit of the exemption].”

Eh, maybe not.

The article cites Cuban’s bid for the Cubs and his bid for the Rangers. As for the Rangers: he backed out of the bidding. For the Cubs: it was never perfectly clear, but there was some suggestion that Cuban’s bid was debt-heavy and creative. Which, yes, the Ricketts’ was too, but the point is that there were qualitative differences in the bids as well as just numbers, and that provides any seller with the justification to go with a lower bidder without getting scrutiny like Bunning suggests is appropriate.

As I’ve argued a million times here, the only way a team sale situation is going to lead to the busting of the antitrust exemption is if the seller of the team (i.e. the team’s current owner) wants to sell to the next Mark Cuban but MLB tells him no. If the seller never comes to an agreement with the prospective buyer, there’s nothing to really work with. Sure, the reason someone may not come to an agreement with the next Mark Cuban could be that MLB pressures them not to, but (a) the ownership group is so thoroughly vetted for lap dogs these days that I’m guessing actual pressure isn’t necessary; and (b) even if that wasn’t the case, try proving it.

  1. pjmitch - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    I think most people would not have a problem with Cuban if he didn’t always act like a jerk and that he is right and we are all stupid. Anybody who watches Shark Tank can easily come to the same conclusion. He is the type that would try to come on to the field and argue with umpires

    • robmar924 - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Except he is right a good portion of the time. Not always but a good bit. NBA isn’t exactly known for air tight policies and officiating.

    • pjmitch - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Commenting to my own post- as of this writing I got 17 thumbs down (go ahead with the pile on). Are most of you saying that you like this guy???

      I appreciate his passion but it is misguided, don’t you think?

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        I’m a Lakers fan and so I am not a huge Mark Cuban fan. He comes across as a loudmouth. That said, when I started watching Shark Tank, I realized how smart the guy is. He is still a loudmouth, but I understand that there is a rhyme and reason behind it. He is really a shrewd businessman.

      • Reflex - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        I have watched Cuban’s career since the 90’s and honestly Cuban is the tech industry’s version of Donald Trump. He has produced nothing of value, but he has taken advantage of inability to assess what he has to sell worthless properties for far more than they are worth. His fortune was originally made with and its sale, and it turned out to be an empty shell.

        Cuban is smarter than most, but he has not applied that in any way that benefits his industry, he has only managed to make himself wealthy on others mistakes. That may be ‘good business’ but it does not in any way make him someone to emulate or look up to. He is basically famous for tricking others into making him rich, and then being mouthy about it.

      • antaresrex - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        I would imagine Dallas Mavericks fans are OK with him.

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        I wouldn’t say he tricked anyone. He was smart for getting out from under before the dot com disaster. It’s not his fault Yahoo wasn’t smart enough to see what was coming.

      • prostock75 - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:44 PM

        Love Cuban and his willingness to speak his mind. Like everyone single one of us, he is going to be wrong from time to time but in an age of PC, it takes guts to speak what you really believe. Also, he is one of the best owners in sports and would do anything for his players. Jerk is somewhere around #150 when I think of Cuban

      • prostock75 - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        You don’t become a billionaire by being stupid

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 16, 2014 at 6:52 PM

        he is SO much better than the good old boy network of owners…

        ask the Maverick players about him… they LOVE him.

        and he’s a fellow IU grad…

      • Reflex - Jun 16, 2014 at 7:33 PM

        asimonetti – If you read any of the in depth retrospectives on the sale Cuban sold Yahoo something that was virtually an empty sale and he was well aware of it at the time. Yes it is true that Yahoo should have done due diligence, however at the time Yahoo was themselves an inexperienced tech startup. My point, however, was that Cuban knowingly sold something that was worthless to make his billions, and then holds himself up as an example of brilliance when in reality he’s no better than any other businessman who tricks others into paying more than something is worth. That he happened to get out two years before the crash as luck, he had a monthly column in Computer Reseller News that I used to read and in it he was touting the various IPO’s of tech companies all the way up through the crash. There was no insight involved, he just got lucky.

        There are zero fundamental technologies that have his name anywhere on them. There are zero bits of software, protocols or legacy applications that came out of his brief time as a tech entrepreneur. He will not be known in the industry that he made his money in and in fact most of the tech grads who come out of school now have no idea who he is beyond ‘owner of the Mavericks’. He has no legacy at all because aside from ripping off Yahoo he has done nothing of impact in his entire tech career.

        He may be a good baseball owner. I know Mavs fans like him. But that has nothing to do with whether or not he’s particularly insightful or brilliant. I think its kind of sad though that despite making billions the largest thing he is known for is making a basketball team into a contender.

  2. edelmanfanclub - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    While building through Free Agency isn’t good, at least this will be open to spending the money the fans spend going to the ball park. One less Loria would be great (granted the Marlins are doing ok this year)

  3. 18thstreet - Jun 16, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    I can say this because I don’t have to sign my name to it:

    Jim Bunning was a great baseball player, but he’s a senile old man. As a partisan, I can say that I didn’t like his stance on just about anything in the Senate. But, regardless, he was never one of the brightest bulb in that body. I’m amazed he’s able to form coherent sentences.

  4. yahmule - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Having one of the worst senators of the last 20 years getting your back must be a real comfort.

    Cuban is best known for whining and temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. He also has the ethical standards of a windsock.

    2009: “I like Donald (Sterling). He plays by his own rules.”

    2014: “I agree 100% with Commissioner Silver’s findings and the actions taken against Donald Sterling.”

  5. blabidibla - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    It’s hard to argue that Cuban has been bad for the Mavericks or basketball in general. He’s missing that certain “stodgy” quality that a baseball owner must provide.

  6. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jun 16, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    I’m no lawyer (really, I’m not)…..but if the seller and buyer don’t come to an agreement, that is one thing. But if the seller and buyer don’t come to an agreement only because the buyer Mark Cuban, isn’t that collusion 101?

    • blacksables - Jun 16, 2014 at 6:12 PM

      There is no law that says they have to take the highest bid. They can take the bid they want. And always have.

      Ref: Bill Veeck and the 1944 Phillies.

      • blacksables - Jun 16, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        Sorry, 1943 Phillies.

  7. largebill - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    When we sold our house in Virginia Beach we didn’t take the highest bid. Third highest was from folks pre-approved for a loan and we didn’t want to drag out the process. Difference wasn’t enough to take the risk of the deal falling through since we had already bid on a house back in Ohio.

  8. mikhelb - Jun 16, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    From what I recall, Cuban’s offer to buy the Rangers was refused and instead MLB opted to sell the team to a group which offered less than Cuban; it was Cuban who insisted he was being left out with a better offer and the Rangers were to be sold for less than its estimated value, the case went to a hearing and either an arbitrator or a judge dictamined the team had to be sold in an auction… thats when Cuban retired after the “price” reached an amount he felt was the right one.

    And really MLB had agreed to sell teams to groups of owners they felt comfortable with, even if it meant they would do it below the estimated value, or, like with the Dodgers, when they were sold to McCourt based on debts others had with McCourt and with his properties as backup. MLB also bought the Expos and lent money to their owner J. Loria so he could buy the Marlins when MLB pressured former Redsox owners to sell the team to Henry, the only bid MLB accepted as viable.

    I think it is a bit less than undeniable MLB has acted to satisfy Selig’s whishes and desires, like choking the Dodgers by refusing to sign their lucrative TV deal with FOX to force their owner to sell the team AND ultimately agree to the bigger TV deal MLB had agreed ‘under the table’ at the time of McCourt’s agreement with FOX.

    Antitrust issues? Come on!! MLB does what it pleases them to satisfy whatever Selig wants to.

  9. sleepyirv - Jun 16, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Stupid of Jim Bunning to talk about Cubs violating anti-trust laws since almost all Cubs fans are (and I say this only in love) drunken, belligerent lawyers.

  10. disgracedfury - Jun 16, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    Bud Selig does back door deals with his friends like how the John Henry stole The Red Sox from Joe O’Donnell.

  11. bornahawker - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    Cuban would be a great baseball owner

  12. chill1184 - Jun 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Says a lot on how the inner circle operates when scumbags like Loria and Wilpon are allowed to own teams but someone like Cuban is viewed as a “problem”

  13. foreverchipper10 - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    I for one would be overjoyed if Cuban bought the Braves.

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