There's little rivaling the feeling of exhilaration that stems from your favorite team not just winning, but winning often -- and yet, writing about a team that has done so many things right over the last four weeks has proven more challenging than I presumed it would be. I don't know. Maybe it's because I personally find it more difficult to write from an interesting angle when there are relatively few sources of aggravation/controversy in the Rangers' midst; case in point, virtually every position on the major league roster -- with the possible exception of the starting rotation -- that was troublesome 1-2 months ago has stabilized. Catcher. First base. Third base. Center field. You name it.
And so it is that I find myself leaning on Maury Brown's latest early-morning update on the most tumultuous business-side story to ever encompass the Rangers, that being the word that the ballclub has reportedly filed an amended version of the "pre-packaged [bankruptcy] plan" that, ostensibly at least, "seems" to meet the conditions necessary to lift impairments -- or the absence of due rights -- of the Rangers' first- and second-class creditors and, by virtue of that, would eliminate their ability to block the sale of the team via vote.
How significant is this? As far as I understand it (and despite the thousands of words I've dispensed on this subject over the last year, my understanding at this stage is not especially advanced), it's significant, but also an action that was expected, and not one that begets any ironclad assurances that the sale will get finished on the timetable necessary to enable pre-July 31st big-ticket acquisitions. Concurrently, however (and provided that the plan does now meet Judge Lynn's standards of comfirmability), I'm not certain what recourse the creditors will have left beyond being able to pursue litigation after the fact against the company which currently owns the Rangers -- that is, Texas Rangers Baseball Partners -- and Hicks Sports Group.
If, however, there is still some sort of hitch in the bankruptcy plan that precludes Judge Lynn's approval, it will probably be time to begin reading into the underlying meaning of this inadvertent remark from one Commissioner's Office attorney: "If [Lynn] doesn’t confirm the plan we’ll just terminate the franchise. We'll take over the g--damn franchise." The implication here appears to be that Bud Selig would finally invoke the "best interests of the game" clause if the Rangers were dealt one more massive setback, but there are two items of intrigue here, those being (a) the evolution of said clause and (b) the ramifications for the rest of American professional sports.
One of the things that seems to get lost whenever the best interests clause is mentioned is that the clause was seemingly never intended to be employed where financial matters are concerned; in 1994, Selig wrote that the powers linked to the clause were "inherently narrow" and stated that "the notion of an almighty commissioner directing the business of baseball is incorrect." Selig's predecessor, Fay Vincent, affirmed that the clause was never intended to be used against lenders. And, of course, even if baseball were to take that ultimate step and seize the franchise, another legal showdown would assuredly ensue between Major League Baseball and the Rangers' creditors, along with the causation of what sources have described as "convulsions" in the sports finance market.
This probably isn't the morning missive you wanted to read, and it's really not the one I wanted to write, but the end game here -- whatever the heck it is -- is unarguably a bigger deal than any single regular-season game the Rangers will play this year. Appreciative as I am of the way Texas has played in recent weeks, this is still one huge fish that requires frying.