Late last night, I got word through a source close to the Texas Rangers bankruptcy proceedings that Mark Cuban was actually a second-lien lender to the club, as he had been buying up debt of the club. I didnâ€™t have a second source at the time, so I waited on the story. The idea that a lender to the Rangers would look to purchase them, and that someone is Mark Cuban, is a heck of a twist to a story that has had more than their fair share of them. This morning, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News got to the story first, with Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram reporting, as well.
But, what I didnâ€™t know was that Cuban is also working with the main lender that has had the Rangers sale in a headlock this whole time, the â€śpredatoryâ€ť hedge fund, Monarch Alternative Capital.
A bit of commentary is due...
As I wrote for FanGraphs, Cuban hasnâ€™t been able to get in the front door buying a club, so has been active in working clubs in bankruptcy (first the Cubs, now the Rangers). Heâ€™s buying debt of a club he wishes to purchase, and the logical assumption, based on Wilsonâ€™s report, working bridge financing with Monarch for the Weds. auction of the club.
And Cubanâ€™s lawyer said the enhanced bid worked out with William Snyder by the Greenberg/Ryan group was â€ścollusionâ€ť which is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black after hearing Cuban is working with Monarch.
In more than one piece (see here and here), I have said that Cuban isnâ€™t exactly the type that fits the ownership mold that Bud Selig has created. Thatâ€™s one thing. This move by Cuban is another.
"I want to see the Rangers run," Cuban said to KTCK-AM in Dallas a couple of weeks ago. "I think Chuck and Ryan deserve a lot of credit and what they're doing is a good thing, but with the way the deal has been structured, there is some risk there. And so I offered to help on a bunch of different levels so let's see what happens."
Cuban added that he was hoping he was more of a â€śbackstop than anything else.â€ť
"It really can be a good deal financially, but someone needs to be a backstop."
So much for being a â€śbackstop.â€ť
If I have been saying that Cuban is trying to get in through the backdoor in an attempt to purchase the Rangers, MLB must now see it as trying to get in through the garbage shoot. I place the odds at around nil that Cuban would gain approval from MLBâ€™s owners, and for good reason. If he canâ€™t be trusted before heâ€™s an owner, how can he be trusted with the club once he is? The move by Cuban certainly isnâ€™t going to endear him to Nolan Ryan, who is a looming factor in all of this. Why would Ryan want to work for the man that shafted his group by working with the main roadblock in the sale (Monarch Alternative Capital)?
To Cuban, I offer some advice: Look at what Jim Balsillie did in his attempt to purchase an NHL club. Start looking back before the Coyotes, and end with how the Phoenix bankruptcy case ultimately wound up. Cuban is not any different than Balsillie in this sense... Not smart enough to see the overall when it comes to league ownership rules. Trying to shove your way to the table always has consequences. Even if you do somehow land the club, the Rangers will become a pariah. Try getting any favoritism from the league or owners once you do land the club. Fat chance.
FOX Looking to Be a Bidder for Rangers
In other news, according to Alfano and Schlachter of the Star-Telegram, Rupert Murdochâ€™s FOX Sports is looking to bid on the purchase of the Rangers, as well. Coming in late to the game, they have yet to be approved by the league, which might be a stumbling block due to how FOX did running the Los Angeles Dodgers. For those asking why they are interested in purchasing the Rangers, the reasoning seems to be in protecting broadcast rights at the local level with FOX Sports Southwest. The deal with FOX Sports SW doesnâ€™t run out till mid-decade, so as sports consultant Mark Ganis said, â€śit's a bit like the tail wagging the dog,â€ť
One thing is certain, next week is going to be more than interesting with the Rangers. Bids are due in by 8pm CT on Weds. with the auction beginning the next day. The outcome of the auction will spill over to Thursday when Lynn will announce its outcome.
MORE NEWS AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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