It appears that our long-standing regional sports crisis is finally blasting along at full speed towards the resolution many have been longing for, as Tom Hicks formally announced his selection of the ownership consortium headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan on Tuesday evening and will reportedly request that Major League Baseball approve his decision to grant exclusive negotiating rights to the apparent winning bidders.
While Hicks' selection of Greenberg/Ryan is not tantamount to an iron-clad assurance that they will ultimately purchase the financially embattled franchise, it's probably the single biggest hurdle that needed to be cleared in a process which will entail (a) acting on the plan to nourish Hicks Sports Group with the necessary capital to begin satisfying Hicks' creditors, (b) finalizing the agreement between the two entities during a 45-day negotiating window and (c) obtaining the approval of 75 percent of the league's owners. All three conditions appear likely to be fulfilled.
Interestingly, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Greenberg/Ryan group did not enhance its bid until sometime Tuesday afternoon, at which point it seemed apparent that Jim Crane was poised to emerge victorious by virtue of his far financially superior offer; in that sense, it almost seems as though Hicks permitted Crane to re-submit his bid after the original December 7th deadline in an effort to create leverage and push Greenberg/Ryan -- with whom he had already aligned -- to find more money to put into the pot. If that was indeed Hicks' intention all along, it worked to perfection, and more power to him for pulling it off.
Candidly, this whole story is a little bit anticlimactic for me -- we've been talking about the ownership situation for so long now that I find myself feeling somewhat numb to these latest developments, and we still don't know how well the Greenberg/Ryan group will actually fare once the transfer of power is complete, but the early indications are good: heavy financial support from local investors, the retention of Ryan in his current capacity, the probable stability in the baseball operations department and so forth.
I'd be a fool if I said that it didn't all look very appealing and neat and tidy on paper, but until the sale is finalized, the new ownership regime is in place and some stuff actually starts going down (such as aggressive movement in next winter's market, where bountiful pitching riches await and the promise of being able to write off new contracts looms large), the bulk of the celebration should be directed towards Hicks' ouster more so than the entrance of Greenberg and company. The extrication of that damaging element of fiscal irresponsibility is the single biggest thing that we should be excited about.
If electing to reserve judgment on Greenberg/Ryan until a later date while maintaining an air of cautious optimism makes me a killjoy, then I apologize ... but then again, not really, because after what this team and its fans have been through in the last six months, I don't think anybody is going to begrudge a little hard-earned cynicism on anybody else's part.
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