The Texas Rangers declared bankruptcy today, which was merely a procedural matter on the road to a $575 million sale to team president/good 'ol boy Nolan Ryan and his group of investors. First step? Pay off some really lousy contracts.
You might be asking yourself, "How can a reasonably popular franchise, with a fairly nice stadium in a fairly large market be such a financial disaster?" Well, for starters they owe $24.9 million to a guy who left six years ago to win a World Series for another team. They owe another million and a half to Vicente Padilla, who throws in the NL now and in 12 Major League seasons has lead the league in a statistical category just one time. (It was hit by pitches.) They even owe $1.4 million to Mickey Tettleton who retired from baseball in 1997! Now, that's planning for the future!
Actually, that last one might be on George W. Bush, but Tom Hicks (who took over the team in 1998) is the one who gave Alex Rodriguez a $252 million contract, then gave him $67 million of that to go away. Rodriguez is the top unsecured creditor of the franchise, followed by a long list of players who mostly no longer play for Texas. It's all part of Hicks' "start fast, then buy another sports team and completely ignore the ones you already have" strategy. The Dallas Stars went to two Stanley Cup Finals in his first four years as owner and have done little since. For the Rangers, two early division championships were followed by four straight last-place finishes. And Liverpool? Well, let's just say fans are not exactly mailing love notes to the Hicks family.
Of course, it doesn't really matter, because even accounting for the $100 million of his own cash that he pumped into the team, Hicks still comes out about $200 million ahead of what he paid for the Rangers over a decade ago. I think. I didn't read the Wall Street reform bill, so who knows where all that money went, but I'm guessing he'll make rent this month.
But hey, remember when Nolan Ryan beat the crap out of Robin Ventura? Those good times are coming back.