Citing the Beatles song "The Long and Winding Road," Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig told reporters this afternoon that he was "very restless" as the sale of the Texas Rangers was stalled by bankruptcy and a courtroom auction.
"Nobody thought it would be that long, and nobody thought it would be that winding," he said during a rare visit to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. (How rare? Selig said later he couldn't recall how long it's been since he came to town, only that it's been "a really long time.")
Selig said the new ownership group headed by CEO Chuck Greenberg and president Nolan Ryan is "absolutely perfect" for the organization, claiming it has the resources and commitment to succeed. "This franchise has the potential to be one of the really great franchises."
A critic of Tom Hicks during the bankruptcy, Selig was guarded in his comments when asked to reflect on his tenure with the franchise.
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"Tom was here since '98, if my memory serves me correctly, and certainly had his success during those times," he said. "The only thing I can say about that is it was time for a change, and change will be helpful not only to the franchise but to baseball."
When asked whether it would have taken several months for MLB to approve Mark Cuban's Radical Pitch, had that group won the auction, Selig refused to answer: "I don't deal in hypotheticals." He did say none of the other teams called to complain that MLB was subsidizing the acquisition of players before the ownership transfer and that he tightened up ownership procedures as a result of the Rangers' ordeal.
Selig, who claims to watch all 15 MLB games when he's at home, said he'd consider adding more teams to the current playoff format, noting that he was widely criticized for expanding the divisions and adding the wild card in 1993. Yet MLB has its best competitive balance in its history, he added, not to mention better than any other sport.
"The Texas Rangers making it is another very dramatic manifestation of how the economic system has changed and allowed new teams to make the playoffs," he said.