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Monday, November 15, 2010
Dazzling Dozen: Auction winners, grand slam

By Richard Durrett

Perhaps the biggest off-field story of the season occurred at the same time as a big on-field performance. And that brings us our top-5 of the 12 most memorable moments.

No. 5: Chuck Greenberg, Nolan Ryan win auction and Rangers win with Michael Young grand slam

The day was Aug. 4. Well, at least the game and auction started on Aug. 4. Both finished on Aug. 5 and ended up with a victory for club president Nolan Ryan and the Rangers.

After months of court hearings and motions, the fate of the Rangers ended up in an open auction in bankruptcy court. Rangers Baseball Express, the group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, went up against a group involving Houston businessman Jim Crane and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The auction took 10 hours and culminated in a late night-early morning bidding process that ended up with the Greenberg-Ryan group owning the team. Ryan called it an emotional roller coaster.

But as the bids were exchanged and the Ryan-Greenberg group was sending in its final bid, Michael Young hit a grand slam home run in the seventh inning to put the game out of reach. The Rangers won, 11-6, ending a two-game losing streak (and three of the last four). The win was the start of a three-game winning streak for the Rangers.

After the game, the clubhouse was buzzing as news trickled in that the Greenberg-Ryan group had won the bidding. Young said it was a "big day on and off the field for the Rangers" and players expressed appreciation that Ryan would remain in the organization.

"Every since Nolan has been on board here, this franchise has gone nowhere but the correct way and the right direction inside and out," Murphy said that night. "You look at the farm system, you look at the big league club and it's gotten better in all aspects. He's not just a Texas icon; he's a baseball icon. I think people will be proud that he's part of the ownership group of the Texas Rangers."

It was one of those rare days when events coincided in a big way for the Rangers organization. The win kept the Rangers eight games in front in the AL West and helped them get going after a rough start to the road trip on the west coast. And the group favored by most of the Rangers fans managed to outbid Cuban and Crane to win the rights to the team.

More reasons this made the top-12:

* Greenberg had worked for more than a year to own the Rangers. He was passionate about the team, had gotten to know some of the players and was clearly putting in a ton of effort to own the club. He had committed to moving down to Texas and was going to leave Ryan in charge of the baseball operations. The Ranger fan base liked him and wanted him to get the team. So Aug. 4-5 was an important time for the franchise.

* It was thought that the entire bankruptcy process would distract the Rangers. Turns out it really didn't. Players didn't discuss it much in the clubhouse and worried about the on-field stuff. Credit the team leaders and manager Ron Washington for that.

* The resolution gave the franchise some stability with two months to go in the season. It was after the trade deadline, but before the stretch drive. And while I don't think the events impacted the clubhouse, it had to impact the front office. Now, finally, they knew who the new bosses would be and the current staff that was serving under Ryan would know they were likely to stay. There was a calming effect on the entire franchise.

Do you remember where you were that night? Were you on twitter and checking the blogs for updates? Did you watch the Rangers' game in Seattle? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

BTW, here is Jim Reeves' column on the auction.