I have pretty much gotten all the what’s-the-deal-with-owners ranting out of my system by this point, but the Texas Rangers’ voluntary declaration of bankruptcy today is a nice reminder that hijink-intensive ownership issues are not unique to the NBA. The bankruptcy deal was made necessary by the hilariously thorough mismanagement of former Rangers owner Tom Hicks (above) and his Hicks Sports Group, and is aimed at making easier the team’s planned sale by separating the Rangers’ team debt (roughly $75 million) from that of the Hicks Sports Group (a stunning $250 million); once the Rangers’ debtors are paid off, the sale becomes a snap. (The Hicks Sports Group debt promises to be another, more contentious story) The dramatis personae include all the characters we’ve come to know and loathe over the last couple of years of economic awfulness, from feckless millionaires to avaricious hedge funds to bailout-begging plutocrats, but the ending already seems clear: the Nolan Ryan-headed Ryan Baseball Express Group will likely assume ownership of the Rangers sometime in the next month or so.
In a blog post that’s schizophrenic even by business media standards, Forbes’ Wayne McDonnell examines the Rangers’ current situation:
At first glance, the Texas Rangers are a highly dysfunctional albatross to Major League Baseball. However, once you can get past the predatory hedge funds and voluntary bankruptcy filing, the Rangers are an attractive commodity. According to Baseball America, the franchise currently ranks second in all of Major League Baseball in organizational talent and are in the midst of modernizing the œMoneyball theory for pitchers. While franchises have become enamored with limiting pitch counts and innings pitched, Nolan Ryan and pitching coach Mike Maddux subscribe to an aggressive philosophy of pitching with its origins deeply rooted in an era dominated by the likes of Koufax, Gibson, Drysdale and Marichal.
Yes, once you get past the hedge funds, the new pitching metrics do look pretty good? Anyway, weird though that graf might be, it’s not necessarily wrong. The Rangers will clearly be in better hands with Ryan than they were with Hicks, who leaves an oil slick of a legacy that may reach its apotheosis in this listing of the Rangers’ creditors. Hicks owes over $24 million to Alex Rodriguez, still, and is $28k in debt to the New Era hat company, but he also owes millions to Mickey Tettleton (who last played for Texas in 1997) and Mark McLemore (who left in 1999), among other ex-players. Incompetence this multifaceted isn’t quite enough to make you pine for the cool competence of a jet-ski obsessed oligarch, but… well, I’m not a Rangers fan. Maybe it is.