Monday, September 26, 2011

It's about realignment!

Here's your daily update on the Crane ownership situation, which apparently is being held up by the American League move.

There are clearly two camps: those who think the hold-up is about realignment, and those who think it's about character. Let's see who falls where:

Jayson Stark
Yahoo's Jeff Passan
FSH's David Dalati
Jon Paul Morosi
Fox Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder
Ken Rosenthal

Richard Justice
Maury Brown

Almost every national writer has placed the hold-up on the Astros moving to the American League. The two holdouts are Richard Justice and Maury Brown. Both have been doing their thing for a long time, and their sources shouldn't be discounted, especially given Justice's prominence in the Houston media. Media agreeing on something doesn't mean it's true, but there's clearly a dominance of opinion in this one.


Anonymous said...

Justice isn't even elevated enough to be discounted. It is clear from his tone, and his continuous regurgitation of virtually identical columns and blogs that he has issues with Crane. Way beyond what an objective "reporter" should.

Crane probably doesn't give Richard the time of day and with Richard, that is ample reason to take a negative stand towards Crane. Consider the probability that Ryan is most likely in the camp feeding Richard, and sucking up to anyone of Ryan's stature is what Richard craves. Also, add into the fact that Richard has already told his readers how he favors the move to the AL and it is easy to see why Richard is where he is on this issue.

So, overall, it is real balanced: a bunch of national reporters versus Richard Justice, and this Brown cat and his blog. I wonder where the truth lies?

Warren said...

Crane is not going to miss out on a chance to own Astros because he is against realignment. He has probably already told the owners he would move the team if approved. So I do not believe that is the hold up. Crane is not so honorable that he would hold his ground and back off the deal because of that. I also do not believe the charcter issue is the problem. The owners can make Crane dance like a puppet on a string when the time comes to keep him in line. The owners are not so honorable either. I believe they are in no hurry to approve and are going to deal with problems with Mets and Dodgers first and then come back to Crane. It would seem that 1 owner would leak to some reporter what the holdup is. Pretty poor investigative reporting here. Justice is an amateur and i can not see him being right on this. The owners already knew Cranes character issues some time ago. I believe he will be approved and the Astros will move to American league.

Anonymous said...

The list is actually a little more balanced. Ken Rosenthal, in his most recent notes on Saturday, mentioned the AL West move but said the real hold-up is about MLB owners having questions about Crane's character.

This site seems to have attracted a Crane apologist (see 12:43 PM comment and a lot of others), but if anything, Richard Justice and the Chronicle have been VERY fair to Crane. Most other media outlets would have been trumpeting their prior news coverage of Crane's problems, but the Chronicle essentially buried all of the bad news until three months after the Crane deal was announced.

Hell, for months Richard Justice was predicting a "29-0" approval of Crane, so the idea that Justice has a vendetta against Crane is just stupid. I tend to think the delay is about realignment, but no one is closer to the situation than Justice, and Maury Brown actually covers this stuff on a day to day basis.

Anonymous said...

I'm no Crane apologist, but to state Justice has been very fair is laughable. A balanced approach would have certainly emphasized, or at least pointed out that these things were known about Crane for a long time, way before MLB allowed Drayton to negotiate with him. A balanced approach would have put his "misdeeds" into context, both in relation to other MLB owners, and within the context of large corporations. A balanced approach would have never brought up the BS about his kids. A balanced approach wouldn't have let the task on setting the record straight on that account to another reporter. A balanced approach wouldn't portray Crane defending himself aginst child abuse charges as an act that will "just make Bud mad defending himself." Sheesh. A balanced approach would ask why the move to the AL is a condition at all, and questioning why the fan base is asked to remedy MLB's problems. Sure, Justice has been real fair. Wake up.

Btw, Justice reporting about a 29-0 vote isnt a sign that there is no vendetta, it's a sign tht he is a lazy reporter who is often wrong, but will soon say the opposite.

Reuben said...

Justice is a "columnist," not a reporter, and his columns/blogs on this subject have reflected that: they are largely, if not entirely, speculation and opinion, with very little actual reporting or sourcing done.

I've not read much other stuff by Maury Brown but he really seems to dislike Crane...

Personally, if Crane is planning to cave, and allow MLB to move the Astros to the AL, I will despise him for that. I would rather Drayton keep the Astros until he can sell them to someone with the balls to stand up to Selig and his cohorts.

Anonymous said...

Justice did point out that Crane's skeletons were known to MLB, which is why, for THREE MONTHS, he predicted a "29-0 approval."

Justice never got into Crane's personal life or divorce at all; that was the Houston Press and then Maury Brown/Forbes.

I don't know how Justice was supposed to put Crane's misdeeds or alleged misdeeds "into context" in relation to other owners or businesses. Obviously, MLB owners aren't a bunch of Eagle Scouts, but I'm not aware of anyone in MLB ownership who has as long of a list of skeletons as Crane seems to have. If you have examples, I'd like to see them.

Also, as both Justice and Brown have reported, MLB didn't want McLane to announce the deal with Crane, but McLane did so anyway. It's not like MLB pulled the rug out from under them. McLane tried to jam the deal down MLB's throat, and MLB said "not so fast."

Anonymous said...

So, once Crane agrees, or McLane beats him to the punch, will those with Justice blinders still feel he was being fair the whole time?

It will conclusively prove that Crane's personal indiscretions were never important, just something lazy reporters, doing the bidding of MLB, could use to fill their space. Meanwhile, the franchise got extorted, with nary a whimper from the Houston press.

Finding out if other owners have similar skeletons is what reporters do, in an effort to determine if they are being led by their sources.

At the end of this tale, the Astros will move, Crane will be approved and his issues will be proved meaningless, Justice won't write an article how the franchise was extorted, some people will find no fault in the press at all in this matter, and we the fans will get to watch the Astros play the freakin mariners at midnight.

Maybe years later, a reporter will get off their butt, and write a story how a city, both the fans and the media, let their franchise be reamed over without any fight at all. Of course, that reporter will probably be from another city.

Anonymous said...

Again, you sound a little delusional here. The A.L. move has been discussed multiple times in the Chronicle. As for the other owners' skeletons, first you claimed Crane is no different than a lot of other owners, but now you have no examples and want the media to go digging. It takes 5 seconds on Google to find Crane's skeletons, which date back to the '90s. If you feel other owners are the same, go spend 10 minutes with Google and bring us some examples.

Personally, I don't even care about Crane's past. The issue people should be SCREAMING about is the debt. Crane's deal for the Astros apparently includes almost $300 million in loans. Good luck building a winner with bad attendance, bad TV ratings, and $300 million in debt service.

A.L., N.L. -- it won't matter. The debt in this deal is a killer. THAT's the real ignored story here.

Anonymous said...

I have never said Crane is like other owners, just seems like if that is the definitive reason, a rational person and a professional reporter would want to know if he is indeed unique. Saying that I should do the research is hardly a counter to my claim that it should be part of the basic reporting.

The AL move is always portrayed in the chron as near the bottom of the list. If he agrees, and is subsequently approved, a non-delusional mind can easily conclude that the move was the ONLY determinative reason, with the rest being crap thrown out for divert people's attention. People probably like yourself who will accept anything, regardless of how much sense it makes, and then likely claim it was reported correctly all along.

Debt being a bigger issue than a franchise being extorted and basically crippled to fulfill an agenda of MLB, or most likely a subset of MLB? Sure thing. That should be the lead story. I can only assume you aren't an Astros fan or enjoy sterile concepts over matters of deceit and power.

Anonymous said...

"Saying that I should do the research is hardly a counter to my claim that it should be part of the basic reporting."

-- How do you know it HASN'T been part of the reporting? "Plane lands safely" is rarely a headline. When reporters find dirt, they report it. When they don't, it's not a headline.

"Debt being a bigger issue than a franchise being extorted and basically crippled to fulfill an agenda of MLB, or most likely a subset of MLB?"

-- If you think moving to the A.L. will "cripple" the Astros more than the $300 million in debt, you're nuts.

Anonymous said...

Sure, if you say so. The creditors must be morons to knowingly lend to an entity that obviously will have difficulty servicing it. I think I'll take their judgement over yours.

If your average person is wondering if the plane landed safely, then a reporter should convey that fact. I seriously doubt any Justice or Brown realize there was ever a plane in the air.

Finally, you seem to continuously ignore my core complaint: why is the move a condition at all? It's akin to a boss making up dozens of reasons to deny a lady a promotion, but if she sleeps with him, those reasons are quickly forgotten. You sound like someone who can ignore the core misdeed, and focus on some irrelevant factor like her 401K portfolio.

Are you Maury Brown? Your sensibilities, and inability to recognize the forrest for the trees is eerily similar.

John Royal said...

Richard Justice is a columnist. It's his job to provide an opinion based on the facts. And the facts, which appear to be undisputed, is that Crane is a prick.

And the reasons that Crane's skeletons are important is because of all of the skeletons of other owners. The Rangers ended up in bankruptcy because Tom Hicks leveraged the team to the hilt. The Dodgers are in bankruptcy partly for that same reason, partly because Frank McCourt never had the money, and partly because he's going through a nasty, nasty, nasty divorce that has left the team rudderless, and which is essentially being run by MLB.

The Padres are still trying to recover from John Moores going through a nasty, nasty divorce which forced the team to be sold to a group that it is having trouble with financing. And speaking of trouble with financing, there's the Mets which are caught up in the Bernie Madoff dealings.

In short, this could all be a major issue to the other owners/MLB/Bud Selig because they've been bitten too many times in recent years and don't want a franchise sold to a guy who has a history of nasty, contentious divorces and who is having to enter into a heavily debt-ridden deal in order to buy this team.

Now I don't know what Anonymous's real problem with Richard Justice is, but Anon is related to/really Drayton McLane or Jim Crane, he's got no real clue as to what's actually going on with this deal. But I'm pretty sure that Justice's contacts with MLB/Astros are better and more informed than Anon's. And unlike the rest of the national guys who cover the game of baseball, Maury Brown covers the business of baseball, so I'm more willing to listen to him on this deal than some of the national guys, whereas if it dealt with managers, or trades, or free agent signings, I'd be more willing to listen to the other guys than I would Brown.

And here's another thing, Anon. If Justice is getting info from Nolan Ryan, then good for him. Because here's the deal. Ryan is an owner. Ryan is one of the guys who has a vote. And since Ryan dealt with Crane last year during the Rangers thing, I'm sure Ryan has a bit of sway with the other owners. So maybe that's a good thing.

By the way, have you ever considered that the owners just don't trust Crane. After all, Drayton sold him the team three years ago, and he backed out of the deal after the press conference was called to announce the deal. So maybe they just don't want to deal with a guy who's known as a bit of a lying scumbag.

And skeletons, or no skeletons, good financing or no good financing, MLB doesn't have to approve him. It's like buying into a co-op, if they don't want to sell to you, they don't have to approve you if they don't want to approve you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, another one who ignores the core issue.

Sure, if he never gets approved, I will admit that skeletons may have been the issue as we will never know. We will probably be left with the same data we have now, with reports it was character and reports it was the move. However, if he agrees to move, and magically gets approved, with all his supposed baggage, I assume you would admit that most of what you just wrote is complete BS. If you are honest.

Whether you believe Justice is a low life tool like me, or you respect him like a few around here, it is irrelevant to the fact that he has never tackled the core issue, and if you believe he is getting his info from Ryan, and there is nothing wrong with that, then you are a fool. Like an incompetent cop solely pursuing a lead given to him by someone with an obvious stake in misleading him.

Why on earth would I be associated with McClane? That makes zero sense. Use your head. Think, who has what incentive to put forth what argument?

I know little about Crane, as opposed to you that knows conclusively I guess, that he is a lying scumbag. You know him personally, or just an avid reader?

I am simply an Astros fan who is quite pissed that the franchise is getting screwed with the complicity of a lazy local press, and most likely one of two possible individuals who would have to agree to the move. Under the effects of extortion, of course.

I have no problem if the owners hate him, and don't want to approve him. I have big problems if his approval is conditioned on a move to the AL.

Anonymous said...

"The creditors must be morons to knowingly lend to an entity that obviously will have difficulty servicing it. I think I'll take their judgement over yours."

-- The bankers don't care if the Astros win 100 games or lose 100 games; they just want to get paid. I never said an MLB team couldn't be profitable while losing; everyone knows the opposite is true. My point is that it's hard to be profitable *and* rebuild at the same time, and with 40-plus partners, I'm sure Crane's partners are expecting to get paid. This isn't Mark Cuban using 20% of his net worth to buy a team; this is 40 people leveraged to the hilt.

But anyway, according to your logic, I guess these brilliant bankers are morons if they allow Crane to borrow $300 million while switching to the A.L., since you claim the switch would "cripple" the team more than the debt.

"Finally, you seem to continuously ignore my core complaint: why is the move a condition at all?"

-- It's not clear that it's a condition. Some say it is, and others say it's simply a request. Both sides of this have been covered in the media, both in Houston and nationally. You talk like this is some big secret that only gets discussed on dark corners of the internet. I've read dozens of stories on this. Maybe not as many as there'd be if a N.Y. or L.A. team was involved, but that's what happens in a one-paper (sorry, John R.) town like Houston.

"However, if he agrees to move, and magically gets approved, with all his supposed baggage, I assume you would admit that most of what you just wrote is complete BS. If you are honest."

-- Here's a news flash: Two things can be true at once. It's possible Crane will agree to move and it's possible he'll be approved as Astros owner, but the two aren't necessarily codependent. Obviously, MLB wants the Astros in the A.L., but why would they drag Crane through the mud just for the hell of it? It's one thing for MLB to pressure Crane behind the scenes, or to pressure Crane publicly about other aspects of the deal (too much debt, too many partners, etc.). But what purpose does it serve MLB to drag Jim Crane through the mud if MLB ultimately plans to approve him? It makes no sense whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

The bankers may well be reducing the amount they will loan. That was reported recently. No doubt that a move to the AL would reduce the value of the franchise, and Crane's ability to service the debt. So, I don't think the bankers are stupid, they are acutely aware of the effect the move would have on the franchise value.

Condition. Request. Are you Bill Clinton? "Jim, this is just a request, but should you refuse to grant our request, we will withhold approval."

I don't know why it it is so hard to understand. If he agrees to move, and is subsequently approved, one can easily conclude that the character stuff was not determinitive, and that the move was the sole condition all along. Maybe you can understand if it presented this way: "I thought Crane was a prick, and that was preventing his approval. Has anything changed? Why doesn't him being a prick matter any more?"

Why would MLB drag Crane through the mud if they eventually intend to approve him? First, I maintain they don't either intend, or not intend to approve him. It depends on his agreeing to move. Second, if they were waiting out Crane for four months over approval, without having given a public justification no matter how flimsy, then even a lazy reporter (Oh, sorry. columnist) such as Justice might wonder what is taking so long. They had to provide something for public consumption.

I also don't view MLB as some monolithic entity. I suspect there are many owners who have no issue approving Crane right now, warts and all. AL or no AL. However, there are others who see this as a golden opportunity to achieve realignment or weaken a regional competitor. They are using the leverage while they have it. Doesn't take many to thwart it. Doesn't it take 80% approval?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous (9:26 a.m.) -- You seem to be confusing both speculation and fact, and cause and effect.

As I tried to explain in my last comment (#14), two things can be true at once. Even if Crane gets approved, that doesn't mean the character issues were never important. As I said, MLB could pressure Crane behind the scenes if it wants realignment or pressure him publicly because of other issues (the high debt, the huge amount of partners/investors, etc.). But why would MLB intentionally wound/weaken an incoming owner? It doesn't make any sense.

Also, where did you see reports that the loans to Crane might be reduced? I haven't seen that anywhere.

Anonymous said...

My last comment seems to have disappeared. Strange.