At this very moment in a Fort Worth courtroom, all those involved in the bankruptcy and sale proceedings of Your First-Place Texas Rangers are trying to convince Judge Michael Lynn to auction off the team -- or not -- on August 4. Sam's there too, and during this lunch break he sends an update, which I've been tasked with paraphrasing. So, then, so far:
During this morning's portion of the hearing, which could last all day and well into Thursday, this much became clear: Jim Crane, the former Houston shipping magnate Major League Baseball loathed till only recently, has indeed submitted a definitive purchase agreement for the team. And not only that, but Crane, who will be partially financed by the very lenders who want a higher bid, wants to be the stalking horse -- meaning he, and not Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, would have the opening bid other comers would need to top by at least $15 million, with subsequent bidding increments at $2 million. Chief Restructuring Officer William Snyder, on the stand most of the morning, said he's unsure if Crane would participate in the auction if he doesn't get his way.
If Crane walks, that would leave us with Greenberg and Ryan, Dallas developer Jeff Beck and, in some iteration, Mark Cuban -- whose name wasn't mentioned much this morning, except as Putative Bidder One, not a nickname likely to stick. Snyder said Cuban has not yet made an offer, and he didn't know if he intends to. When asked if Cuban was "financially able" to make an offer, Snyder said sure. And how does he know this? "I guess general knowledge of that person," said the CRO.
There's also a second unnamed surprise guest with whom Snyder says he's had two conversations -- though Lynn referred to him (or her ... or it) as "not even a tire-kicker" at this point. Snyder also said he's not worried should the sale stall out and the team stay in Chapter 11 for, oh, another month or so. Said Snyder, the positive cash flow, winning record and ability to acquire a "great pitcher" (Cliff Lee) prove one thing: "I'm not sure this team's a melting ice cube."
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Sam will send updates as appropriate through the day today and Thursday, as Lynn is tied up with other business tomorrow.