And boom goes the dynamite.
Thursday afternoon, the Houston Astros filed a lawsuit in state court and sent out an announcement of a press conference Friday morning to discuss the lawsuit. At the time, the case was not revealed and there was no suggestion of what was to come.
However, a statement filed in federal bankruptcy court where the CSN Houston team is currently embroiled in an involuntary bankruptcy proceedings reveals just what the lawsuit is about. Seems the Astros are suing Drayton McLane for "causes of action for fraud as to McLane Champions, LLC andR. Drayton McLane Jr.; negligent misrepresentation as to all Defendants; breach of contract anddeclaratory judgment as to McLane Champions, LLC; and civil conspiracy as to all Defendants,relating to and in connection with the purchase of Houston McLane Company, LLC and itsequity interests by Jim Crane and the current ownership group in 2011."
Ho. Lee. Crap.
Remember when we said that all this wasn't really Crane's fault and that it stemmed back from Drayton overestimating the market when he made the deal, using the RSN to drive up the selling price without knowing if it could actually be profitable? Well, turns out Crane was thinking along the same lines.
The link above is to the statement filed in the bankruptcy court, but David Barron has read the state court filing of the lawsuit. Here are some of his tweets about what the case contains:
The suit accuses McLane of selling "an asset they knew at the time to be overpriced and broken," referring to his interest in CSN Houston.— David Barron (@dfbarron) November 22, 2013
Crane says he bought McLane’s CSNH share based on what proved to be "knowing misrepresentations" and "falsely inflated subscription rates."— David Barron (@dfbarron) November 22, 2013
From suit: "Fans of the Houston Astros have been injured because defendants’ misrepresentations leave plaintiff w/an impossible choice:...— David Barron (@dfbarron) November 22, 2013
"either accept the broken network as is and deprive thousands of fans the ability to watch Houston Astros games on their televisions, ...— David Barron (@dfbarron) November 22, 2013
"or distribute the game at market rates and take massive losses out of the Houston Astros player payroll ...— David Barron (@dfbarron) November 22, 2013
"thereby dooming the franchise for years to come." Suit is 35 pages, will update as I can.— David Barron (@dfbarron) November 22, 2013
Maury Brown briefly weighed in on things on Twitter and he's not exactly on Crane's side:
Due diligence is fine and all that. I'm sure Crane had a very skewed picture of the team he was buying. However, what this does for me is reinforce what a terrible, terrible screwjob Crane's initial purchase of the Astros was in the first place. Let's review:
His purchase was delayed from May until October.
He was forced to switch leagues as part of the sale.
The sale price was inflated because of the new RSN, but said RSN was set to lose money for the first handful of years.
And yet, Major League Baseball and Bud Selig are guiltless here? Selig looked the other way while Frank McCourt ran the Dodgers into the ground, Tom Hicks runs the Rangers into the ground and now he helped out his buddy and good soldier Drayton by getting him a sweetheart deal?
The business of baseball is no fun. This lawsuit is not going to end well. But, if there is a glimmer of hope, movements like this suggest the Astros are very much invested in making sure their games are on TV next season.