Will Richard Justice’ Effort Help Crane Avoid the Critical Questions?
On November 16, the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice provided Jim Crane with an early Christmas present. It was titled Cut Crane Some Slack Since AL Move Was Forced On Him.
And so began the sweep-it-under-the-rug campaign. No critical questions need be asked. Richard Justice had proclaimed to the masses what they, in truth, would prefer to believe anyway. (What generally-good-natured person, after all, actually wants to acquire information that would compel them to not like the new owner of the baseball team they’ve supported for years?) And while the typical hardcore Astros fan knows better than to accept what Richard Justice considers to be a truism, the masses simply do not.
Justice’s motivation for conveying this kindness on Crane would seem obvious: Under the previous regime, RJ believed he had special access like no other Houston media person; it only goes to reason that he would, early on, develop some quid pro quo with the new guy.
So, will Justice/Crane be successful? I think there’s a pretty good chance that they will be. While the hardcore Astros fans have spoken out in a big way, voicing their displeasure, most fans are not hardcore.
They’re casual fans. And nothing against casual fans–intuitively, they constitute the majority of ticket buyers, after all. But they simply do not have the same investment, and no basis for critical thought to test what a person like Richard Justice tells them. MLB by-laws, collective bargaining agreements, and what would constitute a high or low bid on a baseball franchise do not interest them.
And really, who can blame them?
Neither Richard Justice nor anyone else in the Houston media core are talking about the inconsistencies in the Justice/Crane alibi, let alone asking any of the salient questions that would serve to resolve them.
So, it appears this morning that Jim Crane now has had his full welcome party from the Houston media, having invited them to observe his move into his new office. And the script that began with the press conference continued: Crane repeated his intention to resist volunteering any information about how the AL move decision transpired.
Perhaps, it was appropriate that all discussions with Crane to this point have been cordial, but one begins to wonder at this point whether the Houston media is just that intimidated by the new CEO of Houston baseball.
Indeed… at what point will these obvious questions be raised that explore just how complicit with Selig he was, and applying normal journalistic skepticism to Jim Crane’s assertions that he had no choice in the matter? Who will be the journalist who will step forward and clear up the obfuscation?
To the uninitiated, there are certain facts we know that it appears Crane will seek to dismiss under his cover of “being forward-looking,” such as:
(a) By-laws that state no move across league or, even, division boundaries can be made w/o the consent of the owner;
(b) That Crane’s premium bid would logically have made Selig dis-inclined from turning Crane down short of actual overwhelming EEOC concerns;
(c) That the CBA situation made it very plausible for him (or in the case that he were turned down, Drayton) to simply wait out Selig–i.e., whether Selig turned Crane down, or for that matter, if Crane refused to go to the AL and turned Selig down, Selig’s dilemma would have remained intact, with the only alternatives to shelve 15/15 or go to Plan B;
(d) That Drayton would have been similarly dis-inclined from moving the team himself since, again, if he were to just wait-out Selig, he could sell his NL franchise at a higher price than he could an AL franchise.
(e) That we would expect that a successful business person like Jim Crane would recognize the leverage he had in relation to Selig’s leverage, and that ultimately, Selig could not make this occur without Crane’s cooperation; and,
(f) If that were not the case, it begs explanation for why the person with the supposedly-greater leverage (Selig) worked out a $65-70 million compensation package for the person who supposedly had lesser (?); if one assumes that Selig is not running a charity, shouldn’t we account for the logic of handing over so many millions of dollars?
It will be interesting over the coming days if any of this changes. Will Crane be able to execute his “no looking back” strategy, or will someone step up to ask these lingering substantive questions.
Particularly in light of many fans indicating their determination to abandon the franchise after decades of support, and/or to participate in boycotts against the Crane franchise and businesses friendly to his franchise, it would seem egregiously curious if they do not.