May 24, 2010


Bud Selig is using the "Best of Interests" of baseball clause to force the Texas Rangers "lenders" to sell the team to a group led by Nolan Ryan and he's threatening to virtually take the team over to do it.

Last month he cited his “best interest” powers to outsiders — lenders to the Texas Rangers — in a letter telling them he expected them to accept the estimated $575 million bid for the team by a group led by Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher and team president, and Chuck Greenberg.

In essence, he said he could invalidate the liens that the lenders hold on the team to put the Greenberg group in place. Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane University, said Selig was testing the breadth of his vague powers. “He’s saying to lenders, ‘If you don’t agree to the sale, I’ll take over the team, and my gaining control will impact you,’ ” he said. He added, “It’s consistent with the views of commissioners and leagues that they get to decide who their owners will be.”

But lenders have their own view: some think that Selig is using his powers to abrogate their loans and damage their bottom lines. So they spurned Selig’s power play — and await his next salvo.

These lenders have turned into angry creditors. Hicks Sports Group, the holding company for the Rangers and the Dallas Stars of the N.H.L., defaulted on $525 million in loans in March 2009. Lenders have received no interest payments since and think that two bidders would pay more than the Greenberg group.

If Selig were to break the stalemate to permit new bidding, the lenders insisted they would receive more from the proceeds after the Rangers’ owner, Thomas O. Hicks, took his cut. If those higher offers did not materialize, Andrew Herenstein, the managing principal of the lead lender, Monarch Alternative Capital, said he was prepared to close the deal with Greenberg.

But, until then, Herenstein wrote in a letter to owners this week, “the lenders are not willing to allow a sale of the team to the Greenberg group at a price below fair market value.”

In 1994, Bud Selig had a different view of "Best Interests,"which has always been to protect it from outside issues like gambling to ensure the sports' legitimacy.

In 1994, as the acting commissioner, Bud Selig wrote a commentary in The New York Times in which he declared that the “best interests” powers were inherently narrow and created to ensure the integrity of the game. “The notion of an almighty commissioner directing the business of baseball is incorrect,” he wrote.

Selig’s legal thinking has evolved, and his interpretation of “best interests” has expanded.

How does forcing the sale to Nolan Ryan's group fall under the umbrella of MLB's best interests? It doesn't and if he cared that much about the game he would take action to help the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been seriously damaged by an ongoing divorce that has forced the team to dramatically cut their payroll and made them a laughing stock.

If he's going to use the "Best Interests of Major League Baseball" clause here, then why won't he use the same argument to protect his players from the hateful Arizona immigration law, which is beginning to unravel for him as we speak?

Bud Selig bobbed and weaved. He zigged and zagged. But he never really answered the question when asked about calls to move next year's All-Star Game from Phoenix's Chase Field because of Arizona's new immigration law.

The Major League Baseball commissioner, speaking to reporters Thursday after an owners meeting at- MLB's Park Ave. offices, offered a lengthy and spirited defense of his sport's minority hiring record and its role in sparking the civil rights movement. But he refused to say if he will heed demands to relocate the Midsummer Classic.

"We've done well. And we'll continue to do well. And I'm proud of what we've done socially, and I'll continue to be proud of it," Selig said. "That's the issue, and that's the answer."

We know why. He's waiting it out like he does everything else. He waited out steroids until it couldn't be covered up any longer which cast a shroud of illegitimacy on the the "sacred records" that the sport holds so dear. Well, we'll see how that works out for him.

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