Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Greenberg resigns’

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SP4: Was Chuck Greenberg Robin Ventura’d?

03/11/2011

Well the story is about as official as it is going to get at this point. After about a half day’s news cycle on the subject, the press assembled at the Temple to hear what Twitter was abuzz about: that Chuck Greenberg was out as CEO of the Rangers and out of the ownership group Rangers Baseball Express(netting 20-25 million dollars according to Bob Nightengale). Nolan Ryan has taken over and is the new CEO of the team, adding that title along with President and Baseball Deity. Ryan, Bob Simpson, and Ray Davies spoke in generalities, declining to get into details of the Greenberg departure but making sure to emphasize all the quality attributes and positive things that Chuck did in his brief time as Rangers CEO. The media did their part by asking the questions the fans, like asking Ryan “Did you and Ryan butt heads, and if so what was the final straw on this issue?” They tossed fastballs not unlike what Ryan did during his illustrious career, and the trio did their best to just foul them off by not addressing them in detail. But you took away from the press conference knowing that the Chuck Greenberg Era, which was highly anticipated by Ranger Nation, was dead and buried.

So now we ask why. Why did the person who fought for over a year to buy this team along with the rest of Rangers Baseball Express, including a late night court battle with local billionaire Mark Cuban, get bought out and basically kicked down the road? A lot of people in the know say that it was because Greenberg rubbed the other three the wrong way. That he tried too hard(the extra visit to free agent Cliff Lee is cited), that he interfered too much in the baseball side of things(a report involving Michael Young’s contract and deferred money), or that his over-aggressive management style just did not mesh well when the  ownership group had to get to work day in and day out once the whimsical process of acquiring the team ended and the grind of the off-season set in. All valid, all makes sense, yet I just don’t buy it. You don’t cast off the guy who has been the best PR generator for this new ownership group because he is over-aggressive, because he is trying to do too much.

Which leads me to believe how I currently believe: Chuck Greenberg was a lame duck from the beginning. Chuck didn’t know, but Davies and Simpson did. It’s fairly common knowledge that Nolan Ryan, who at the start of this process was just the president of the team, wielded quite a bit of positive energy with both Rangers fans and Major League Baseball which would be instrumental in acquiring the club.  So you had money, you had the clout, but you didn’t have a man that could make the deal. Enter Chuck Greenberg, someone who desired to be in baseball and wanted to be apart of a team. He had executed a messy sale before with Mario Lemieux(the Nolan Ryan of hockey) and the Pittsburgh Penguins, so it was a logical lateral move to have him do the same with the Rangers. The rest of the story is history, with creditors causing problems, Mark Cuban teaming with Jim Crane, and the purchase process ending on the very early morning on August 5 when the winning bid for the RBE was submitted. The keys were handed over, and the team went on a magical World Series run concluding the best(and most tumultuous) Rangers season ever. Fan moral was at an all time high. They go into the off-season, and if the articles published are to be believed that’s when the friction really got kicked up. Management styles, personal beliefs on ways to handle the organization and all that implies did not match up, and the decision was made that Greenberg was done.  Nolan Ryan took his place as the new CEO and President, which gets us back to the present.

I’m fully of the belief that Chuck was used to get the deal done, and to keep him around they gave him the CEO title. Davies/Simpson/Ryan did not want to keep him, because you’ve got two clashing groups of personality. Greenberg is a very fan friendly, very active, very aggressive and proactive person. The trio he feuded with are more of the traditional stay out of site, we manage behind the scenes with no real presence outside our offices, good old boys type style. So it was natural that the southern, down home guys probably didn’t appreciate when the northern guy started encroaching on their territory, who was bucking the status quo and trying to remake the image of the Rangers ownership group from the decrepit, vilified reign of terror that was the Hicks group. They knew that in the end, they wanted Nolan Ryan as their lead dog. Not Chuck Greenberg, they wanted the guy that they knew and could connect with. They wanted familiar, plain and simple. Nolan Ryan is one of the most well respected people in the state of Texas, and the game of baseball. He should be. This situation, however, was extremely unprofessional and casts the remaining trio in a very bad light. You cast out the guy who the fans loved, who didn’t sit in his ivory tower but instead sat out in the bleachers. He wanted to know what the fans thought, so much so that he went out and talked with them. He connected with the fans, he was the face of the ownership group, and even though it was revealed he did not have much invested(2-3 million dollars according to John Heyman) within the team. He brought more than money, because Davies and Simpson represented more money than we needed. Greenberg represented a new generation of owner, and it was whole heartily embraced by Ranger Nation. He was the anti-Hicks, which is exactly what this team needed in every single facet of baseball ownership. Nolan will be a good CEO, but he’s not going to be out in the stands or on Twitter being able to communicate with the fans. What you gain in Ryan’s credibility you lose with Greenberg’s accessibility to the fans, and passion for being not just a suit but a support just like the people who occupy the stadium.

I know a lot of fans will follow Nolan Ryan blindly, we tend to do that with our heroes. I love Nolan Ryan, and someday I will write a story relating a personal experience I had with Ryan that rekindled my love of Rangers baseball which had gone dead for a period of time.  I’m sad to say that I can’t support my hero, or the people who he sided with, on this issue. The evidence points to it: the dismissal of a very popular fan figure, the idea of him having very little invested in the club so it is easier to buy him out(even with the profit), Davies and Simpson both being much more inclined to favor Ryan who they share much more in common with, the timing of three weeks before the season. If they were truly dissatisfied with Greenberg, why wait until three weeks before the season? Because you want to start clean, you want to get this over with in plenty of time before the season. Chuck Greenberg was basically a prostitute for the Davies/Simpson/Ryan group, they used him for their own purposes and then they cashed him out and sent him on his way. That’s a prostitute, and it’s a shame to see someone who was so enthusiastic and passionate about this club be exploited for his skill set and his good nature. This will never be admitted to by the three men who hold control of the Rangers, but there is considerable reason to believe it. Do I still support the Rangers? Yes. However, I absolutely do not support this move. I won’t tell you HOW to think, but I will ask you to at least think. Do not let your blind loyalty to Ryan allow you to not at least inquire and see what this story could be. Nolan Ryan is a respected official, but he is human and no human is without mistake. In this case Ryan, Ray Davies, and Bob Simpson all made a mistake. Time will only tell how that mistake will affect the season. As a Rangers fan, I only hope that they knew what they were doing.

Sam

sam@sportsperspective.net

twitter.com/SHSPerspective