The 2010 Major League Baseball season may not yet even be at the halfway point, but events in the Chapter 11 case of Texas Rangers Baseball Partners are beginning to resemble the taut back and forth of the final weeks of a pennant race. 

It appeared last week that Judge Michael Lynn of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas was guiding the parties to a consensual resolution of the dispute that was threatening to derail the proposed sale of the Rangers to a group headed by Nolan Ryan.  In addition to providing a ruling that offered a pathway towards overcoming the objections of secured lenders opposed to the sale, the judge also pushed back a scheduled July 9 hearing to July 22 in order to give the parties a chance to seek to resolve their remaining disputes through mediation.  

Now, however, parties appear intent on playing hardball.  The proposed purchasers, evidently concerned about having to wait for sale approval until a date that is close to the Major League Baseball trading deadline of July 31, filed an emergency motion to restore the July 9 hearing date.  The office of Commissioner Bud Selig is threatening to invoke its powers under the Major League Baseball Constitution to take over the Rangers’ franchise.  Judge Lynn agreed to the purchasers’ request, but warned that in the absence of a consensual deal he may not confirm the plan, which would throw the entire case into disarray. 

With the July 9 hearing date looming quickly, the legal maneuverings over the next twelve days will rival whatever may be taking place on the field.