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Tinker, Grocer, Soldier, Spy: How The Astros Were Held To Ransom For $50m

Jim Crane has been hitting the headlines again.

Unfortunately the United States will not be treated to the new film adaption of John Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy until 9 December, but those of us on the other side of the Atlantic thoroughly enjoyed it.

Instead we get our own covert drama starring Jim Crane (Tinker), Drayton McLane (Grocer), Bud Selig (Soldier) and Maury Brown (Spy). Just when revelations that Crane would accept a switch to the American League, we get the latest spiel about him wanting $50m in compensation. Drayton McLane certainly is not going to pay it, and why should he? He wants his $680m:

"We're not changing the sale price. The engagement is between Jim and his group and baseball. They have not talked to us to reduce the sale price."

There are 29 other teams, and it is not inconceivable with revenue sharing and all that they might pony up $1.72m so that the Astros switch leagues rather than them. $50m would be good news, even if it accompanied some awfully bad news (switching leagues). Many Astros fans are worried about the amount of money the Crane-led consortium had to borrow to reach Drayton's asking price.

In the short-term this could lead to some even more drastic revenue cutting and revenue dumping over the next few years to pay off the debt. Or the $50m could be poured into the next two or three drafts, both domestically and internationally, helping to further rejuvenate the thin farm system.

While this ownership switch and money changing hands makes sense for the other 29 owners, Tinker should be rubbing his hands with glee. This deal falls through and Drayton is put in an impossible situation. The consortium could reform under different leadership, but they probably are not going to offer anywhere near the same amount of money as the world economy flatlines again.

Crane should be asking for $100m and perhaps an expansion type draft where he can nick a player of each team while he's at it. Selig could probably pay it with the amount of money he's on these days. Or melt down that gold statue he made of himself outside of Miller Park.

Let us step back a bit and look at the actual reports. We might have taken the New York Post with a pinch of salt, but Maury Brown seemingly buys into it, and he believes Crane's approval will go ahead in November. Confused? You certainly are not alone. Now the fun begins as the World Series wraps up, the offseason starts, 40-man rosters get sorted out, free agents fly and maybe this mess will get sorted out, and maybe we learn what has really been going on behind closed doors.

Or maybe not.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.