Following his detailed step-by-step recounting of Jim Crane’s more sordid issues in the recent past, including war profiteering and the discrimination lawsuit his company faced, Maury Brown has wondered aloud just why the Houston Chronicle doesn’t have much interest in reporting on Crane’s backstory
The story on Forbes is mostly interesting for one thing: it’s amazing that myself, and Richard Sandomir of The New York Times (see Bias Case May Pose a Problem for Bidder) are really the only two that have reported on past dealings with Crane’s global-supply chain company and their discrimination and war-profiteering pasts.
Sports sections in the Houston market have been devoid of the report. Whether it’s a matter of just feeling it was not newsworthy or not, it should be noted that Champion Energy, a Crane Capital company, and the Astros are very large Houston Chronicle advertisers.
Connecting the dots and jumping to conclusions isn’t something I’m fond of, and obviously we don’t have both sides of the story. But this looks bad for all parties involved. I was a little curious yesterday as to why Brown’s reporting had cited The Chronicle and yet The Chronicle had never brought their own public record into the light. That, also, is not a good look for the paper.
Want another bombshell? How about the fact that even MLB itself did not know about the instances of war profiteering:
If Crane were in line to own the Astros (prior), Cubs, and Rangers, and now on the cusp of owning the the Astros (again), surely MLB knew of all of this.
I conducted several interviews with executives within Major League Baseball for the Forbes article. The issue of discrimination was known, but aspects such as the war profiteering, were not. That was concerning given Crane’s multiple attempts at ownership prior. The explanation was that deep due-diligence work does not begin until an exclusive arrangement is reached between owner and potential buyer.
Now of course, that’s not to say that Crane will fail in his attempt to buy the Astros, but after recent high-profile instances of owners like Fred Wilpon and Frank McCourt letting their personal problems drag franchises down with them, it would not be surprising if MLB started to take Crane’s bid under a little more scrutiny. I wouldn’t count on it, and I would even go as far as to speculate that the fact that the purchase price was so large was to help cover Crane’s past with a little more capital, but it’s certainly a possibility.
Tweets (ugh, I know, but I don’t have actual phone numbers here) to the Chronicle’s baseball department seeking comment were not immediately returned. Astros.com beat writer Brian McTaggart declined comment.