Don’t expect a vote on Jim Crane to occur before the November 15-16 owners meetings in Milwaukee, but a meeting between the prospective owner of the Houston Astros and Commissioner Selig did occur late last week, with Crane feeling upbeat about the process.
"Late last week I had a constructive, one-on-one meeting with the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig,” said Crane in a statement though his PR representative, Bill Miller. “It was a very constructive meeting, positive in all respects, and our transaction continues to move forward."
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter), Selig would only echo Crane's comments, but did not expand further. "I thought it was constructive," Selig reportedly said.
But, in talking with a source close to the process, the meeting should not be read as an indication that Crane’s approval is any closer. “It’s still 50-50,” said the source. “The meeting with Selig was a matter of getting some answers directly.”
Crane was called to Milwaukee to have a discussion with Selig about concerns that center on hiring discrimination and war-profiteering that has occurred prior with Crane’s companies. According to the source, owners were not comfortable enough with Crane to take a vote during the August owners meetings, and the vote was delayed. It has been 8 weeks to the day since the league announced that the vote to approve the $680 million sale from Drayton McLane to Crane, was to be delayed. Several owners have sought to gain more information on Crane and his business dealings since a report on Forbes ran in mid-June (see Why Jim Crane Could Become Baseball's Most Controversial Owner), and discussion about moving the Astros to the American League to allow for expanded playoffs in 2013 have entered the picture.
In recent weeks, Crane has come forward with several interviews with the Houston Chronicle to tell his side of the story. As noted in reports on Forbes, and here at The Biz of Baseball, Crane was not at the center of the war-profiteering that occurred with his company, but was said to say some discriminatory statements about blacks through a class-action lawsuit filed against Crane’s company, Eagle Global Logistics, in 2000. The comments have come during the 2011 MLB postseason. The league prefers to have news be focused on the play on the field during this stretch, with labor news the possible exception.
“His comments were different, weren’t they?” was all the source would say, a reference to Crane’s recent comments regarding frustration about the length of time the process has taken, as well as statements that the longer the process lingers, the more damage to the Astros’ ability to prepare for upcoming free agency would be impacted.
By contrast, current Astros owner Drayton McLane has remained quiet on the lingering delay, choosing instead to focus on positive statements that the deal will still go through.
"I knew about the meeting," McLane said to MyFox Houston in reference to Selig and Crane. "It's part of the process.
"I think it'll get done in a few weeks.”
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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