Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is MLB approval of potential owners on the chopping block?

I meant to will have something more tonight or tomorrow on what the Texas Rangers' bankruptcy and surrounding information means for our situation, but Craig Calcaterra, as he's done before, sort of beat me to at least one punch. Discussing the possibility that the bankruptcy court might force the Rangers to be sold at auction, damn MLB's concerns, Craig writes:
At which point it would be interesting to see what, if anything, Major League Baseball does about it. Because remember: MLB likes to pretend that its federally-created antitrust exemption allows it to accept or reject would-be team owners with impunity.  I assume that they're not going to try and pull rank over a bankruptcy judge on this point -- this sale is complicated enough already -- but if they don't, does it not put an end to the fiction that they can pick and choose new owners?
From my vantage point, this has major implications for the Dodgers' situation. If a federal judge directs the Rangers to be sold at auction, Major League Baseball will surely fight to uphold its own constitution, which mandates approval of new owners by the affirmative vote of at least 75 percent of current owners. Bankruptcy courts are a little different than other federal courts, in that they can be a little more...well, cavalier. Better put, a bankruptcy judge is less likely to worry about a decision's impact on outside parties than a standard federal district court judge might.

But the precedent has largely the same effect. If the Rangers are sold at auction, with disregard for MLB's rules, we might find out just how serious Jamie is about owning the team. If she wins on the post-nup, she can rely on the Rangers sale in her own pursuit of the Dodgers (presumably with the help of additional investors). If a judge in a bankruptcy court can determine the buyer in a judicially-directed sale, she will argue, doesn't that mean Commissioner Gordon can do largely the same thing? 

I continue to believe Frank is in a good position on the post-nup, though another close watcher of the situation has privately expressed the opposite opinion of late. In any case, I've always felt Jamie's gambit had a dead end of sorts: there's no way she gets 75% of baseball's owners to approve a potential bid. Not at this point. However, the possible court-ordered auction sale of the Rangers might give her new hope. You can bet her attorneys will be watching closely. We will be.

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