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Selig glad Rangers have stability, great ownership

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says the AL West champion Texas Rangers have what the franchise deserves, with stability and a great ownership group.

Selig's visit to Rangers Ballpark on Wednesday came seven weeks after owners approved the sale of the team to a group headed by team president Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg. That ended a tumultuous process that included a bankruptcy auction for the sale by Tom Hicks.

The commissioner, who described himself as restless during the extended sale, used a Beatles song to relate the months-long process. Hicks Sports Group announced its intention to sell the team in early 2009, and entered into exclusive negotiations with the Greenberg-Ryan group last December.

"Nobody thought it would be that long, and nobody thought it would be that winding, but it turned out to be both," Selig said. "This franchise deserves what it has now. ... It was worth waiting for."

Selig couldn't recall the last time he visited Rangers Ballpark, where he met at length with Ryan and Greenberg before the Rangers played the Seattle Mariners. Among the 18 mostly local investors in the new ownership group are pipeline billionaire Ray Davis and XTO Energy founder Bob Simpson.

"It's a great ownership group. It was very attractive to me from day one. We don't often have as attractive an option as we had here," Selig said. "This franchise has the potential to be one of our really great franchises. ... The ownership is for this franchise absolutely perfect. It has the resources to do the things you have to do and it has the commitment."

Despite the bankruptcy and ownership uncertainty most of the summer, the Rangers have won their first AL West title since 1999. They open the playoffs next week at either the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay.

Selig's appearance in Texas came a day after Bob DuPuy resigned as Major League Baseball's chief operating officer following 8½ years as the commissioner's top aide.

"Well, I wasn't surprised, and I really don't want to comment," Selig said.

DuPuy's move is effective Oct. 31 and Selig doesn't currently plan to replace him. But DuPuy will still be doing work for MLB. He will continue assisting on the Oakland Athletics' quest for a new ballpark, and Selig said they have already discussed several other projects.

While the Rangers were still in bankruptcy and under control of MLB this summer, they still managed to make several moves for their playoff push. The biggest was the acquisition of ace left-hander Cliff Lee in a July 9 deal with the Seattle Mariners.

Selig said he received no negative feedback from other teams about the Rangers being able to make moves despite financial restrictions. The commissioner said Texas was within budget guidelines approved by baseball when making its deals.

Once the sale of the team was completed, Selig said there was a lot of positive reaction to Ryan and Greenberg owning the Rangers.

"The clubs were really happy when this process ended and how it ended," Selig said. "I think I had more calls of congratulations on this issue than any other issue this year."

Hicks reached an initial agreement with the Greenberg-Ryan group in January. A messy bankruptcy case ensued, and Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher, and Greenberg, a lawyer from Pittsburgh, had to win a bidding war with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to secure the franchise with a bid valued at $590 million.

That formally ended the ownership of Hicks, whose group brought the Rangers in 1998. Texas won division titles in 1998 and 1999.

"Tom came in in '98 and certainly had some success," Selig said. "The only thing I will say about that is it was time for a change and the change will be helpful not only to the franchise, but to baseball."