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March 11, 2011

BP Unfiltered

Chuck Greenberg's Ouster Won't Hurt the Rangers

by Joey Matschulat

Earlier today, Chuck Greenberg's seven-month run as the managing partner and CEO of the Texas Rangers came to a sudden and completely unexpected halt. After battling for more than a year for the privilege to head up a victorious ownership consortium and realize his dream of owning a major league franchise, it was revealed that he was leaving the organization to "pursue other interests," which was actually the politically correct way of saying that he was forced out by his fellow owners. How did the relationship deteriorate so fast, and what are the implications for Texas going forward?

The fact of the matter is that none of the principal parties in this conflict are going to disclose anything more revelatory than "we had somewhat different styles" (which is, in fact, as far as Greenberg would go), so we have to turn to more speculative, higher-risk channels for further information. According to several published reports, team president (and now CEO) Nolan Ryan and the primary "money guys" in the Rangers' ownership group, Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, bristled at Greenberg's management style, and felt as though he was acting more powerful than his relatively small financial investment -- reported to be no greater than $3 million -- warranted.

There are also several different stories that have been published or broadcast via Dallas/Fort Worth media channels today that seem to indicate Greenberg may have had some hand in interfering in baseball operations, including a Dallas Morning News report that Greenberg stymied a potential Michael Young trade by demanding he give up the interest on the deferred money in his contract (which would have violated the terms of the CBA), and a report on KESN 103.3 FM (ESPN Radio) that Greenberg continued to push for Texas to sign Cliff Lee by visiting his Arkansas home and extending an upgraded contract offer even after general manager Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan had already decided to move on. There are a few more stories out there along these same lines, and even if one or two are more apocryphal in nature, it appears on the surface that there was good reason for Greenberg's dismissal.

What does this mean going forward? As far as the Rangers' on-the-field product is concerned, almost certainly nothing; Daniels has affirmed that Greenberg's ouster will not impact baseball operations, and the only shift in Ryan's role will be the added responsibility of overseeing the club's business operations. Where this really hits home is on a fan level, as Greenberg had attained somewhat legendary status in a relatively short period of time by corresponding with fans on a personal level, frequenting team blogs and message boards, and aggressively pushing for fan-oriented initiatives (e.g. the Rangers' new multi-million dollar scoreboard). This loss of the personal touch is what will rile some people, as will the unwelcome PR: nobody wants any manner of dissension amongst their favorite team's ownership this close to Opening Day. 

But, of course, the Rangers dealt with a similarly difficult story last spring, when Ron Washington's cocaine use hit the headlines, and the Greenberg story doesn't strike anywhere near as close to the team itself as the Washington story did. Some question remains as far as how the team's business operations will be run moving forward, but if you're looking to make this into something that will affect the performance of the Rangers themselves ... well, then you're looking at this the wrong way, because it won't. 

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