Baseball

Cuban vs. Ryan at Rangers auction

Bidder up!

The Texas Rangers will go on the auction block in federal bankruptcy court today in Fort Worth, Texas, the most dramatic chapter yet in one of the most contentious sales of an American professional sports team. The last Major League Baseball team to be auctioned off in such a way was the Orioles in 1993.

The bidding will pit Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban against MLB’s favored bidder, a team led by Rangers president Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg.

Cuban’s group, which includes Houston businessman Jim Crane, was the only bid submitted by Tuesday night’s deadline, the court-appointed restructuring officer, William K. Snyder, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. Snyder did not reveal the amount of the bid but said he and team attorneys were reviewing it to make sure it meets certain qualifications.

For starters, the bid must be at least $15 million higher than $306.7 million, the cash portion of a Greenberg-Ryan offer that totals about $520 million for the team. Crane, who made an unsuccessful bid during last year’s original bidding process, opted to join Cuban’s group instead of submitting his own offer.

Whatever the auction’s outcome, final approval of the sale rests with Major League Baseball. A league official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the AP on Tuesday that MLB intends to work with the winning bidder – although it has the option of choosing the second-highest bid.

Outside experts say they cannot predict how the auction will unfold but say “astronomical” bids are unlikely. Cuban was ready to pony up more than $1 billion for the Chicago Cubs, which wound up briefly in bankruptcy before Tribune Co. sold the team to the Ricketts family last year.

SHORT HOPS

All-Star first baseman Ryan Howard has been put on the 15-day disabled list by the Philadelphia Phillies because of a moderate sprained left ankle. … The Los Angeles Angels shifted nine-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter from center field to right field. Peter Bourjos was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to and will play center field. … The Boston Red Sox have put first baseman Kevin Youkilis on the 15-day DL with a thumb torn muscle in his right thumb. … St. Louis Cardinals rookie third baseman David Freese will miss the rest of the season with a tendon injury in his right leg that will require surgery. He was hurt rounding third base in his first rehab game for Double-A Springfield. … The Cleveland Indians put catcher Carlos Santana on the 15-day DL with a sprained left knee, suffered during a collision at home plate Monday against Boston. … The NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds have put shortstop Orlando Cabrera on the 15-day DL with a strain in his left side.

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