Five weeks ago to the day, Major League Baseball announced that they were delaying the vote to approve the $680 million sale of the Houston Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane. Ever since, it’s been a question as to what the delay has really been about.
It has been his character. It has been not wishing to move the Astros to the American League to assist in realignment for expanded playoffs. It’s been concerns about debt in the deal. It’s been concern about it all in the wake of the mess Frank McCourt has made of the Dodgers.
It's been something that no one can pin down.
And while sources close to the matter say that they don’t know of the team prospectus being delivered to the owners to allow for a vote to take place this week, it’s very possible that if the vote doesn’t happen this week, it may have to wait until the quarterly owners meetings in November.
That’s because, while the league could make an exception, Bud Selig rarely announces news that has the capacity to distract from the postseason. With the playoffs beginning a week from Friday, the approval would really need to take place this week to avoid the expected noise in the media that would accompany any approval vote to Crane.
Approve Crane, and there will be the questions about moving the Astros to the American League in 2013. Approve Crane and there’s the EEOC and war-profiteering questions. Approve Crane and there’s questions about what the Astros player payroll will be next year… Ed Wade and Brad Mills’ future… on, and on, and on.
When the scenario above was mentioned to a high place source, the response was simply that “it’s aggressive”. That could mean exceptions could be made. Or, that it could be longer still for the approval.
Remember, Crane has said that after Nov 30, all deals are off. That’s when his agreement with McLane expires. The owners meetings are eight days before that.
But, it’s possible that something is in the works this week. Sports 610 Radio in Houston is reporting that Drayton McLane is calling a press conference this week, and that news regarding the sale will be happening and (get this), McLane is lowering the price of the sale. A high placed source at the league said they were unaware of such activity happening.
It begs the question, why would they hold such a press conference? Unless the prospectus has gone to the owners and the vote is scheduled for this week, the league would be reminding the Astros as to why it’s never smart to call a press conference unless it’s after the sale has been approved by the league’s 29 other owners. Lowering the sale price (along with Crane saying he’s getting impatient that’s it’s taking so long), certainly isn’t going to endear Crane and suddenly make the owners have a change of heart on the sale transaction.
Watch this week. While anything is possible in this rollercoaster ride called the sale of the Astros, if nothing happens this week, it could be – repeat could be – telling.
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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, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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