Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said late last week that he was interested in joining one of the bidding groups looking to purchase the Texas Rangers out of bankruptcy.
"The economics have changed, which has gotten me interested," Cuban told the Star-Telegram by e-mail after breaking the news on KTCK-AM, "The Ticket."
"My lawyers are still going through everything, but the bigger point is that I now have an interest," he said.
"As I learn more I will have a better understanding about how aggressively I will pursue the interest and whether or not I will actually make a bid come the first week of August or whenever the court sets the date for bids."
"I think there is an opportunity to organize a bid for the team," Cuban went on. "Or if it's feasible or possible — and I don't know for sure if it is or isn't — to work with Chuck (Greenberg) and Nolan and their group. I'm not trying to push anyone off or out. I'm exploring."
Cuban has shown serious interest in purchasing an MLB club before, most recently with the Chicago Cubs. But, this time, Cuban is coming in late in the game, looking to become a partner or an owner outright.
To begin with, you’ll note that none of the players in this game called the purchase of the Texas Rangers have stepped up an asked Cuban to be part of their bid group. Indeed, Cuban’s segment on The Ticket was not focused on the Rangers, but on the Mavericks. It wasn’t until the hosts were ready to sign off that Cuban asked the station to ask him about the Rangers. That was followed by contacting the media.
In other words, Cuban is flying solo.
There’s good reason for this. Sure, MLB has approved him before for a club purchase in the Cubs, but in the end, Cuban didn’t have the cash to compete, and in reality, was used to simply gin up the sale price of the Cubs.
That’s not the case with the Rangers. This deal is a far different situation. If he’s sitting on the sidelines now making a determination as to whether he will make a bid or not, when the auction date finally arrives, he’s likely not going to. The move by Cuban was his calling card to other bidders saying, “Bring me in. I want part of the action.”
Why Bidders Should Forget Adding Cuban
Cuban would likely kill any bidding group by being in their midst. Here’s how:
For the Greenberg/Ryan group there is simply no need to add Cuban. As it stands now (and, it’s possible it could change at a hearing on Tues), Rangers Baseball Express has “stalking horse” status in the bidding process, meaning bids at the auction must be at least $15 million higher than the $306.7 million bid Greenberg/Ryan has on the table. In other words, Cuban’s money isn’t needed.
For Jim Crane, adding Cuban in would be a matter of saying, “I really don’t have as much cash as the creditors are making me out to have. Creditors have said repeatedly that there is a “higher bid out there” but in a filing last week, the creditors claim that the Aug. 4 auction date does not provide sufficient time for potential bidders. Adding Cuban into Crane group would simply bolster the position that Crane has been undercapitalized compared to the Greenberg/Ryan bid and that bringing in Cuban signals that that has been the case.
For Jeff Beck and Dennis Gilbert, bringing in Cuban would be a sign that they are in need of cash in a hurry to meet the auction deadline.
Cuban Poison to Any Group Based on Personality
But the real reason Cuban is a wild card, and someone not worth adding into any of the ownership groups is he would be poison for any ownership approval by MLB.
The NBA has fined Cuban repeatedly for comments deemed to be acts of misconduct. He had 13 Fines of $200,000+ 4 Fines of $100,000+ 8 Total fine amount $1,665,000, and that was his tally as of 2006. He’s had a myriad of fines since.
Since Bud Selig took over the helm as commissioner of the league, the make-up of the owners has changed dramatically. The history of MLB owners such as Charlie Finley and Ted Turner had the commissioner spending more time dealing with ownership issues than the business of growing the league’s business or tackling matters with the MLBPA. That balance has now shifted to where the MLBPA and owners are on more even footing.
The owners would look to avoid repeating this history with Cuban, and surely, the prospective bidders know this. Cuban could go it on his own, in which case, if he were to pull a rabbit out of his hat and win the auction, would test MLB’s ownership approval process. If Jim Crane seems an iffy selection, Cuban would easily be turned down.
Fine me, if I’m wrong.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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