Mark Cuban is MLB-Approved! And Other Notes From Today's Texas Rangers Hearing.

As promised, Sam just phoned in from outside the Fort Worth federal courthouse where, moments ago, Judge Michael Lynn sneak-peeked at where he's leaning concerning the proposed August 4 auction of Your Texas Rangers. We'll get to that in a moment, but perhaps the biggest revelation from the morning's to-do had to do with Mark Cuban's interest in acquiring the Rangers. Says attorney Clifton Jessup, who's repping Cuban during these proceedings, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks has indeed been approved to bid by Major League Baseball -- for those concerned that Bud Selig might not want the Mavs man on his team.

Jessup, who just told Sam he was retained on Monday, says Cuban hasn't actually decided to bid on the team ... yet. Nevertheless, he tells Unfair Park, "We believe the court has leveled the playing field now." Which is why Cuban got interested.

Jessup told Sam that Cuban spent this morning in the so-called "data room," where the books are being kept for those who've got the cash and clout to buy the team. Jessup says Cuban "wants to be the lead," meaning, should he get the team, he'd be the man known as The Owner of The Texas Rangers. But, the attorney says, he's more than willing to partner with someone like, oh, Dallas real estate developer Jeff Beck -- or anyone else, for that matter, given the short turnaround for the auction.

Sam asked Jessup: What about Cuban's saying earlier that even if he winds up with the ball club, he'll keep Nolan Ryan? To which the attorney responds: "That's way beyond where we're at now. That's Step 3. We're at Step 1."

Which brings us back a step or two to Judge Lynn's thinking concerning the August 4 auction.

Sam reports: Today's hearing was short and sweet, and Lynn said he'll stick, for the most part, with the bidding procedures discussed at length over the last few days. Chuck Greenberg and Ryan will walk with away around $10 million if their Rangers Baseball Express doesn't get the team. But Lynn said he's sticking with the August 4 auction date. That means bids have to be in by 8 p.m. August 3 -- so you've got still got time.

Now, onto Ron Washington and Jon Daniels's appearances in court today. The GM actually didn't testify, and, for that matter, neither did the skipper -- not much, anyway. Sam reports back that during most of Wash's time on the stand, Lynn assured him that the bankruptcy wouldn't affect the finances of the team. Said the judge, "I don't think we have as much money as the Steinbrenners, but I can't help that." He also said the team won't have to move from "a jet to a school bus" when it comes to transpo.

Lynn did ask Washington: What if the August 4 date came and went without someone stepping to the plate able to take the team home? Would, the judge asked, that affect morale? To which the manager replied: "I'm more than certain it would, sir." No kidding.

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