Judge Agrees With Rangers' Attorney: Hicks Didn't Have to Sell Team to Highest Bidder

With his broad shoulders squeezed in tightly next to Chuck Greenberg, Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan looked like he'd rather be tossing cow pies at the side of a barn or chasing snow monkeys than sitting in Fort Worth federal bankruptcy court this morning. But that's exactly were he was, along with a packed gallery -- 55 folks to be exact, most of which were lawyers, but we also spotted Rangers PR man John Blake.

A visibly uncomfortable Ryan watched as Rangers' attorney Martin Sosland exchanged various sections of the bankruptcy code with U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Lynn, while Sosland argued that the creditors owed money by Hicks Sports Group would receive everything they're entitled to, even if they were to sue.

"They're entitled to $75 million, and they go away," Sosland said.

Sosland scored an early victory regarding the creditors' claim that the debtors had a duty to maximize the value by selling to the highest bidder -- who, as we pointed out yesterday, was clearly Jim Crane -- when he cited a section of the bankruptcy code outlining the conditions that need to be met for a prepackaged bankruptcy to be approved by a judge.

Essentially, Sosland said he'd prove that these conditions have been met, so maximizing the value is irrelevant.

"I'm inclined to agree with your position on the maximization of value," Judge Lynn said, adding, "At this point, you're ahead on that one."

Sosland moved on quickly after Lynn told him: "It's always best to shut up when you're ahead," which garnered some much-needed laughs.

We left before Lynn made any further comments; however, this could lead to the Rangers landing in the hands of Greenberg and Ryan. We caught up with Greenberg during the lunch break, but he was reticent to make a statement before the end of the day. Although he did crack a smile when we asked about Lynn's comments regarding the maximization of value.

For the time being, the momentum seems to be favoring Greenberg and Ryan, who are hoping to complete the team's sale by the July 31 trade deadline. ESPN's Buster Olney recently shot down a rumor that the team had a deal in place to acquire Houston Astros' ace Roy Oswalt, noting the team's bankruptcy as an obstacle.

"Given their financial situation, it would be hard for them to think about taking the most expensive starter in what is a flush market of starting pitching," he tweeted.

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Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten