It's almost fitting, in a masochistic sort of way: the misery of the Texas Rangers' now-six-game losing streak being compounded by Tom Hicks' already infamous Wednesday declaration that the sale of the embattled franchise to the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan-led ownership consortium would not be approved, at least as far as "[things] stand right now." But the ultimate kicker? Hicks' insistence that day-to-day operations would not be affected, a claim already proven to be patently false -- that is, unless Hicks doesn't perceive items such as payroll to be components of day-to-day operations.
And so now Major League Baseball appears destined to intervene in a process which has allegedly been stalemated for months on end and, as alluded to by Bloomberg News last week, could still be headed for bankruptcy court, with Hicks Sports Group's creditors -- chief among them being Monarch Alternative Capital, the so-called "predatory" hedge fund which owns nearly 20 percent of HSG's total debt ($525 million) -- still holding out for the magic $300 million mark, a good $30 million beyond that which Hicks is willing to dispense. Amazingly, Hicks has foisted responsibility for the situation being resolved upon the league, HSG's creditors and Greenberg/Ryan ... in essence, everyone involved in the sale except himself.
What we're seeing right now is the potential confluence of virtually every worst-case scenario related to the sale: having to abort the prior sales agreement and send everything back to square one would not only prove a crippling blow from a P.R. standpoint, but would presumably also hamstring everything ranging from the potential mid-season expansion of major league payroll -- which doesn't seem all that likely given the team's current state of play, but that's beside the point -- to the amateur and international signing budgets. The Biz of Baseball's Maury Brown remains convinced that this deal will get pounded through; given the ramifications if it doesn't, I hope he's right.
What continues to puzzle me is both the nature and the timing of Hicks' latest remarks; indeed, what is his motivation for expressly stating that the deal (a) won't get done as presently constituted and (b) is the sole responsibility of everyone other than himself? It could be his propensity for saying the wrong things at the wrong times, or it could be something more sinister along the lines of attempting to sabotage the current deal, the latter notion being floated by Lone Star Ball's Adam Morris.
Why on earth would Hicks engage in such behavior? Well, first, he's Hicks (enough said), and second, it may be that he believes he can secure more power and perhaps actually recoup some actual proceeds from the sale if he partners with a more cash-flush investor, such as Houston freight-forwarding magnate Jim Crane, whose final offer actually remained superior to that submitted by Greenberg/Ryan even after the latter group enhanced its offer during the 11th hour of the bidding process.
Before writing that off as so much conspiratorial hearsay, take note of two startling facts (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson): first, Hicks -- unethically or otherwise -- has recently been in contact with Jim Crane about potentially getting re-involved in the hunt, and second, despite committing to an 30-day exclusive negotiating window with Greenberg/Ryan back in December, Hicks conducted separate negotiations with Crane during that same exclusive negotiating window. No word on the perceived severity of that violation of protocol, but it all may very well be indicative of an ulterior motive on Hicks' part, and frankly that scares the living hell out of me.
And really, none of this should surprise anyone. Given everything that has come to light over the last year or so, there is literally no good reason for anyone to ever invest any modicum of trust in Hicks again. This is a man who effectively mortgaged both of his Dallas/Fort Worth sports franchises to purchase Liverpool FC, ran all three into the ground financially, defaulted on his loans, violated the collective bargaining agreement, attempted -- and failed -- to fund his own attempt to purchase the Rangers from himself by executing some shenanigans with an FSNSW television contract extension, and, to top it all, never actually finalized a contract with his own team president.
I don't wish ill will upon the man personally, but from the standpoint of being a responsible sports owner, he is an utter abomination who should be black-listed and precluded from ever being allowed to hold a majority interest in a major sports franchise again. You want to talk about a real, perpetual comedy of errors? Then look no further.