Yogi Berra famously said of baseball, “It ain’t over, till it’s over.” That applies to both on, and off the field.
While we’ve reported extensively on the troubles that Jim Crane has had with his business, most notably in my Forbes piece, Why Jim Crane Could Become Baseball's Most Controversial Owner, regarding discrimination and war-profiteering, it’s been said repeatedly in every story that even though Crane’s background is something that is bound to make owners squeamish, the odds are still there for him to be approved.
So, when Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune said this over the weekend, we raised eyebrows:
Jim Crane's attempt to purchase the Astros is in serious jeopardy. This may have strained the once close relationship between commissioner Bud Selig and Drayton McLane, who is thrilled with his deal to sell the team for a reported $680 million.
Crane quietly met with Selig last week at MLB's Milwaukee offices. He was there to answer questions about a history of workplace complaints and charges of war profiteering, which leave some owners wondering if they are welcoming another problem into their club.
If Crane is rejected, Selig probably would step in to help craft a group including many of Crane's investors. That scenario could open the door to Houston attorney Kenny Friedman, father of the Rays' Andrew.
While certainly not out of the question, it seems odd that Selig would call Crane to Milwaukee to tell him he’s not getting approved. It just doesn’t strike me as MLB’s way, but according sources, that's exactly what happened late last week. On the investors, holding Crane’s group together without Crane seems a stretch, at best. And, Kenny Friedman doesn’t hold a candle to Crane’s worth, and has no operating background. Only way he makes sense is if he lands on a pot of gold, or is able to bring in even more investors than Crane, and then brings his son Andrew in tow to run the baseball side of things (clearly, the inference is Ed Wade and possibly Tal Smith would be out of the Astros org, if that were the case).
Bottom line, if the vote to approve Crane doesn't take place during the quarterly owners meetings Nov. 15-16 in Milwaukee, expect the deal to be dead, even if Crane were to extend his deadline for the sale with Drayton McLane past Nov. 30. You can't get approval in not one, but two sets of owners meetings, your goose is likely cooked.
To give you an idea of how many investors are in Crane’s group, here’s a list of some – not all – that have been published (while not confirmed, rumors to The Biz of Baseball is that Clyde Drexler is also part of the group):
- John P. Havens: President of oil services company Seismic Exchange
- Theresa A. Havens:- Havens’ wife and co-owner of California-basd health spa
- William V. Morgan: Co-founder of pipeline company Kinder Morgan
- John C. Hauck: President and CEO of St. Louis investment firm TSI
- Charles Douglas Bauer:- Principal of local investment firm R&D Bauer Ventures
- Gregory S. Allen: CEO of Advanced Foods
- Jeffrey C. Hines: Co-owner and CEO of real estate firm Hines
- William F. Galtney Jr.: Chairman of Galtney Enterprises and other companies
- John E. Williams Jr.: Managing partner at local law firm Williams Kherker
- Charles C. Patterson: Partner at Nix, Patterson and Roach
- Fred R. Lummis: Chairman and CEO of Platform Partners
- Robert Zlotnick: CEO of StarTex Power
- Sheldon R. Erikson: Former chairman of Cameron International Corp.
- John L. Nau III: President and CEO of Silver Eagle Distributors
- Daniel B. Heard: John H. Carter Company industrial equipment
- Neil E. Kelley: CEO of Saracen Energy
- Matthew Kemple: Member of the general partner, White Willows LLC
- Michael M. Gamson: Energy trader at Vitol, Inc.
- Jeffrey K. Hepper: Director of Planalytics
- Charles Duncan III: Duncan Interests
- Ben Guill: Managing partner of White Deer Energy
- David Steiner: CEO of Waste Management
- Edward R. Grady Jr.: CFO of Seismic Exchange
- Albert D. Huddleston: Chairman and CEO of Hyperion Resources
- Milton Carroll: Chairman of Centerpoint Energy
- Margaret Barradas: Managing director of Crane Capital
- John McVaney: Senior vice president of Champion Energy
- Raul Pedraza: President of shipping company Magno International
- Peter Shaper: CEO of CapRock Communications
- Park Shaper: President of Kinder Morgan
- Janet Gurwitch: Founder of Gurwitch Products cosmetics
- Shawn Taylor: Former fast-food restaurant owner
- Gary Petersen: Managing partner of EnCap Investments
- Steven J. Gibson: Founding partner of private equity firm Genesis Park
Investor list source: Houston Chronicle
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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