July 4, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Texas Rangers are for sale

Tom Hicks, who bought the Texas Rangers from a group led by former President George W. Bush in 1998, is in deep financial doo-doo (that's a Bush joke), and has received an emergency loan from MLB. From ESPN, "A caller Wednesday to an XM radio station said the Rangers had failed to make payroll and had to get $15 million from Major League Baseball." Hicks paid $250 million for the Rangers in 1998 (see the MLB Franchises page), but according to Forbes magazine, the value of the franchise has declined from $412 million to $405 million over the past year, and MLB is working on getting the franchise sold as expeditiously as possible, but it's still hush-hush. That's all we need is more news about shady baseball business in the Lone Star State... Wasn't it just a few years ago that the Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez to what was then the priciest MLB contract in history? I wonder how many other franchises are speculative "bubbles" ready to burst? The team itself is still doing fine, tied with the Angels for first place in the AL West.

The mail bag

Mike Zurawski informed me that the city of San Jose has postponed a planned referendum on financing a new baseball stadium for the (Oakland) Athletics until at least March next year. They had been planning on holding a vote this November, but city officials say they need more time to hammer out a tentative understanding with the A's owner, Lew Wolff. A new facility would be estimated to cost about $500 million. See the San Jose Mercury News, which also notes that a new stadium for the (San Francisco) 49ers in the of city Santa Clara is being negotiated.

Zane Bishop tells me he loves the "full view" diagram on the new Ballpark in Arlington page. A number of other stadiums have similarly "truncated" diagrams because of their big size, and I suppose this means more work for your humble diagrammer...

I was contacted by Russ Grimes, who has a superb Web site on baseball history: Today in Baseball. Links are duly exchanged. The July 3 item is an eye-opener: "On this date in baseball history Tony Cloninger of the Atlanta Braves became the first National Leaguer to hit two grand slam home runs in one game." And that's not the half of it. As they say, "Read the whole thing!"

Mike Barnes tells me that the lower stands at Arlington Stadium were not moveable, contrary to what I had been told a few years ago by another Texan, Bucky Nance. Maybe I'll ask around at the SABR convention at the end of the month...

NOTE: My apologies for the broken link to the Today in Baseball Web site mentioned above. Corrected on July 10.