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A Concise Debunking of the “Crane Had No Choice” Myth

March 21, 2012

Explaining why Crane is the ultimate gatekeeper and thus villain in this drama can be exhausting because some fundamentals of that discussion, particularly By-Law 2(b-5), aren’t readily known by the public. So, several words end up being used just to provide background. A recent conversation yielded this fairly succinct way of conveying the essentials. Perhaps others will find it useful…

Do you accept that baseball is a business? And, if a business, that decisions would have been made according to what was most financially rewarding?

Assuming you do, then there is no getting around the fact that had Crane and McLane locked arms and required Selig to abide by By-Law 2-b5, the Astros would NOT be moving to the American League: “no club may be moved to a different division or League without its consent.”

That is, McLane had no compelling reason to allow the franchise under his ownership to be moved, and thus have to sell the team at a lower sales price. Crane, also, had no compelling reason; that is, until the devious Mr. Selig put on the table some serious hush money. And “hushed,” Mr. Crane has been.

The common response has been, “But Selig would have just moved on to the next group trying to buy the Astros.”

That opinion is confounded by not one, not two, but three major faults.

One, that Selig had a deadline to meet–he had to get the CBA done this off-season, and as early as possible. There simply was not enough time for McLane to identify a new owner and get the CBA done.

Second, that by all accounts, Crane’s bid was far beyond any runner-up. So what? As the CEO of baseball, the last thing the Commish wants to be doing is ensuring that the latest sales price on a top-10-market franchise is significantly suppressed, since that has impact on the valuation of other clubs.

Finally, no one can argue that Crane had an opportunity on his own, after MLB had publicly approved him as the owner, to take a stand. The official paperwork was not signed until the next week.

Because Crane was extended on his credit to the max, it appears that it was more important to him to obtain the tens-of-millions discount on his purchase, even if it meant sacrificing the historical identity of the franchise and the devotion of the fan base.

He’s the owner. That’s a choice he, obviously, gets to make.

But to his dismay, he will learn… we, too, have a choice.

And many of us refuse to be sheep, beholden to the Crane franchise just because of geography and our lifelong history.

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