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08/17/11 9:56 PM ET
Owners meet; no resolution yet on Astros sale
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- There was a flurry of activity regarding the proposed sale of the Astros on Wednesday as the owners began their quarterly meetings, held this summer at the historic Otesaga Hotel located about a mile from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Despite a meeting of the nine-member executive council, which discussed the delay of the sale from current owner Drayton McLane to a group headed by Jim Crane, no resolution of the situation was announced. McLane deferred any comment to Commissioner Bud Selig, who declined to address the issue, saying he would leave that for his traditional media conference after Thursday morning's joint meeting of the 30 owners and/or their representatives. "I'll talk about that tomorrow," Commissioner Selig said as the executive council session concluded. A possible vote on the $680 million sale this week was postponed, Major League Baseball announced this past Monday. MLB officials haven't addressed a reason for the delay, although McLane speculated on Monday that the bankruptcy of the Dodgers has held up the due diligence MLB usually conducts on prospective ownership groups. MLB said in a statement that the analysis of Crane's large group is ongoing. As usual, committee meetings were held on Wednesday. The usual process for transfer to occur begins with passage by the ownership committee and then an endorsement of the executive council. Once those two steps are taken, it is placed on the agenda of the joint meeting. For a team to transfer ownership, 75 percent of the clubs must approve. None of that happened on Wednesday. The ownership meeting was canceled and the executive council then took up the subject. Steve Greenberg, a former MLB Deputy Commissioner under Fay Vincent, is an agent for Allen & Co. and is brokering the deal. Greenberg and McLane went behind closed doors with the executive council and once left the meeting together to caucus with each other in an adjacent room. They then re-entered the meeting. Greenberg finally left for good about 15 minutes later. When asked by several reporters for comment, Greenberg declined. McLane, who left the room several times, was asked if there had been any resolution to the issue. "I don't know," he said once upon returning. "I'm going back in to find out." Greenberg, the son of Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, is also brokering the sale of a minority portion of the Mets to hedge fund manager David Einhorn. That transaction also has been in the works for months and hasn't been completed. That deal doesn't need ownership approval because current Mets owner Fred Wilpon would remain the control person for the club with a vote at all meetings. McLane, who purchased the Astros in 1992 for $117 million, announced in May he had reached an agreement to sell the team to Crane's group. If outstanding issues are resolved, approval could be accomplished by phone or by fax anytime between the end of these meetings and the last quarterly meetings of the year slated for Milwaukee on Nov. 16-17.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.