By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
According to team sources, Gilbert's bid failed because he wanted to shove Ryan aside and grab the controlling interest of baseball operations. Crane's group made the most lucrative offer, but Major League Baseball owners might have been leery of his previously backing out of the purchase of the Houston Astros at the 11th hour two years ago.
Besides, Greenberg knows enough to realize that Hicks couldn't withstand another public relations nightmare, especially one in the form of selling the team to a group that would sell up the river the most popular person in franchise history.
"If they had a Mount Rushmore of baseball in Texas, Nolan would be the first face chiseled out," Greenberg says on a conference call with reporters days after Hicks' announcement. "If he had affiliated with any other group, I would have dropped out immediately. There are 29 other teams out there. But the Rangers and Ryan belong together."
By January 23, Greenberg/Ryan's Rangers Baseball Express, LLC signed a definitive agreement to buy the Rangers.
"It was a long, tough process, but I think the correct outcome was reached," Greenberg would later say in the Arizona sunshine. "I'm a Pittsburgh guy, yes, but the Rangers offer the perfect set of circumstances. The metroplex is a great community that's crazy about its baseball. I think the fans want to believe in and embrace the Rangers, but they've never quite gotten over the hump. From a baseball standpoint the team is loaded, and the farm system is, by far, the best in baseball. The franchise just needs a push, a little direction, a little energy. That's where I come in."
Greenberg envisions himself as the CEO of the Rangers' board of directors, running the business side of the organization but delegating the day-to-day baseball decisions to Ryan and Daniels and manager Ron Washington. Basically, he'll nod. He'll oversee. He'll write checks. He'll cheer. He'll keep his distance.
In other words, he won't be Jones calling the shots in the Cowboys' draft-day war room or Cuban passionately pleading with players in the Mavericks' timeout huddle.
"Ultimately, I'm responsible for the end product," Greenberg says. "When it comes to baseball, I'll talk it and love it. But I won't inject my opinions unless I'm asked."
Though he won't publish and promote his e-mail address as aggressively as Cuban, Greenberg promises to ingest, decipher and act upon fan feedback.
"We need to connect with the community, fill the stands and positively impact people's lives," he says. "What's the best way to go about that? That'll be more of my focus, rather than the makeup of our roster or what goes on out on the field."
Greenberg attended 15 games in Arlington late last season. In the future, he foresees a bigger, centrally located HD video board. In the present, he expects—as do Ryan and Daniels—his team to compete in, if not win, the American League West Division championship.
To facilitate that, he realizes he'll have to spend money. Welcome to a new era in Rangers ownership.
Where in the past Hicks frustrated fans by having on average the league's 16th-highest payroll in the country's fifth-largest media market, Greenberg vows to not let money be a liability.
"It's my job to get this franchise to operate like a big-market team," he says. "The resources are here, and it's our job to cultivate them. If we do that there's no reason we can't spend our money along the lines of, maybe not Boston and New York, but what they do in Anaheim and Philadelphia."
Though Ryan and Daniels realize Greenberg is ascending to power too late to directly affect this year's off-season transactions and payroll, his influence could be felt in time for trading-deadline deals come July. They no longer expect to be entering a gun fight armed with only a slingshot.
"I'm not saying Chuck is going to come in here, snap his fingers, and deliver us a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow," Daniels says. "But he's determined to find the right synergy between revenue and the product on the field."
Greenberg will sit atop the Rangers' flow chart, slightly above Ryan and the other 11 families and individuals (80 percent of whom are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Dallas billionaires Ray Davis and Harold Simmons and the Fort Worth family of Bob and Janice Simpson) who will invest in the team and sit on the board.
After desperate attempts to create a solution in which he would still maintain majority ownership, Hicks is all but photoshopped out of the picture.
His once powerful Hicks Sports Group took staggering financial body blows in the current recession, forcing him into massive debt and to default on interest payments for $525 million in loans in April 2009. While Hicks is also looking to sell the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars, Greenberg is left to appease the outgoing owner's creditors and restock $39 million into a mandatory Major League Baseball deferred compensation fund (used as insurance in case of a labor stoppage or a franchise in crisis) that Hicks failed to satisfy in 2009.