By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Desperate to extend the auction to September 30 so potential bidders can properly evaluate the Rangers' assets and secure financing, the lenders challenged the date. The also argued that giving Greenberg and Ryan stalking horse status and a break-up fee "chilled" bidding. Snyder, Ryan, Greenberg, and even Ron Washington testified over the course of the resulting three-day bench trial, during which Crane, Beck and Cuban were revealed as having MLB approval to place bids. A fourth bidder was described by lender Sal Galatioto as having enough personal wealth to purchase the team simply by writing a check.
Galatioto and the lenders asserted that they were willing to let Greenberg and Ryan's financing expire because a better bid is out there, but the Rangers didn't want to risk losing the only concrete offer for the club. Snyder offered a compromise, testifying that the interested parties should sit down with court-appointed mediator Judge Russell Nelms and agree to a date.
Lynn stuck with the August 4 date, but despite making some concessions to Greenberg and Ryan, the jurist had sided with the lenders on one key point: The Rangers will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
At the risk of offending a potential employer once Hicks is out of the picture, pitcher C.J. Wilson's open about who the next Rangers owner should be.
"I would prefer if Chuck Greenberg's the owner because I've had interaction with him, and he seems like a very positive, motivated guy," he says. "And I love Nolan, so obviously that's my horse in the race."
Two days before Daniels and his son watch Wilson walk off the mound in the fifth inning having tossed an alarming 111 pitches—three of them wild, Wilson's changing clothes in the clubhouse three hours before game time against the Orioles to prepare for a workout. First base coach Gary Pettis plays cards with relievers Alexi Ogando and Frank Francisco; outfielder Nelson Cruz leans back in a black leather chair and watches MLB Network while listening to his iPod; and Josh Hamilton, Tommy Hunter and Julio Borbon try on stylized T-shirts that a man's peddling out of a suitcase.
"I'm too big for this kind of stuff," says the 280-pound Hunter as the fitted shirt won't budge past his shoulders. Hamilton shoves Hunter aside, and the two share a laugh.
Wilson, the team's union representative, attempts to address the team's bankruptcy when Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" wraps up and Ian Kinsler yells: "Play it again!"
Wilson cracks a smile and then composes himself, explaining that the bankruptcy's not an issue because the team has been playing so well. Sure, it wouldn't have dragged on so long in a perfect world, he says, but the key to being successful in sports is keeping your focus where it needs to be.
"It's like being a kid in a messy divorce," he says. "You get a little bit bummed out—more so for the reputation for the team and organization."
The interview is cut short because of a team meeting. "It must be about something major for us to have a friggin' team meeting," he says. Team spokesperson John Blake enters the clubhouse and announces that there's a 5 p.m. news conference for "a major announcement."
At 4:24, Wilson tweets: "Merry christmas rangers fans! we won the Cliff Lee sweepstakes narrowly beating the Miami Heat. #mlb. #DOWORK and #upknucks to JD and staff"
Following the press conference at which Daniels, Ryan and Washington announce the Lee trade to the media, the Observer asks Daniels about the likelihood of negotiating a contract extension with Lee, a free agent at the end of the season, given the club's unresolved ownership situation.
"I haven't asked the question, mostly because I expect I know the answer," he says, knowing full well that a multiyear deal for Lee will commit the team to more than $100 million—money it doesn't have to spend until a new owner is in place.
On his way up the elevator after the announcement, Ryan says he's concluded a frustrating week of mediation, and it doesn't look like the bankruptcy case will be decided in a timely manner. "I think for the best of everybody, we need to bring a resolution to this process and really get back to our business, and that's baseball."
News about Lee has spread throughout the ballpark, and 43-year-old Alvarado resident James Hardy just heard about the trade via text message. Hardy points out that while Daniels has put the club on par with the Yankees in terms of talent, he also made the team much more attractive to potential bidders.
"It's like trying to sell a '69 Camaro for X number of dollars, but then you went out and put a brand new engine in it," he says. "Now it's worth a lot more money."
Paradoxically, increasing the team's value could attract a high bidder and result in the exit of Ryan, who's the preferred ownership group of 57-year-old Mesquite resident Joe Montemayor.
"I thought the Yankees were going to snag Lee and then, all of the sudden, boom, we got him. I was surprised," he says. "I'm just hoping now they don't sell to the wrong people."