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Greenberg's short tenure in Texas marked by controversy


Chuck Greenberg managed to annoy a lot of people in his short tenure as managing partner of the Rangers, from the commissioner's office to the Yankees front office to some within his own organization. While it isn't known for sure exactly what precipitated his quick departure as Rangers CEO after just seven months, it is safe to say he annoyed a lot of folks in a short time, among them Hall of Fame pitcher and team president Nolan Ryan. And that's a big mistake in Texas.

The main issue appeared to be about a conflict in managing styles within the Rangers' hierarchy. Greenberg was not popular with employees and lost the backing of Ryan, who could now gain power, although he was already quite powerful within the organization. The key for Greenberg winning his bid on the Rangers in the first place was to get Ryan, a Texas icon, on his side. Sources indicate Greenberg worked hard to to woo Ryan's support and indicate he promised Ryan a stake in the team (believed to be as much as 5 percent) to win him over. But by the end he even lost Ryan.

"Quick rise, quick fall," is how one underling summed up Greenberg's time in Texas. Indeed, Greenberg's brief, seven-month stint was about half the amount of time he spent battling to win the team. His short tenure was highlighted on the field by the Rangers' first ever World Series appearance, achieved by beating the Rays and Yankees in the playoffs, and marked off the field by his public comments which occasionally got him into trouble.

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Among those were remarks were some during the postseason in which went on a radio show in Dallas and said, "I thought Yankee fans, frankly, were awful. They were either violent or apathetic, neither of which is good. So I thought Yankee fans were by far the worst of any I've seen in the postseason. I thought they were an embarrassment." He was told by the MLB commissioner's office at the time to apologize, and he did. Those comments also annoyed his own employees who were said to be amazed at Greenberg's ability to put his foot in his mouth.

Greenberg also boasted, without evidence, that he had played a role in helping free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee choose the Phillies over the Yankees. That comment earned a sharp retort from Yankees president Randy Levine, who called Greenberg "delusional," adding "He's been in the game for a few minutes and yet he thinks he knows what everyone's thinking...He could really impress us when he keeps the Rangers off of welfare and keeps them from receiving revenue sharing the next three years," which was in reference to the fact that the Rangers had received revenue sharing money from the bigger clubs the previous three years.

The reality was that Greenberg irked Lee's camp by visiting him too frequently and making late offers that were considered low-ball. Lee's camp also found no validity to Greenberg's claim that Lee would save millions in taxes by playing in Texas. They checked extensively and since Lee is an Arkansas native who wasn't going to relocate they learned he'd save roughly $2 million over the length of the contract.

Greenberg had worked a year and a half to beat Dennis Gilbert and Mark Cuban to win control of the team despite putting in just $2-3 million of his own money. The real money people are a couple of Texas oilmen named Ray Davis and Bob Simpson. Greenberg was seen as small-timer from out of town who tried to over-run things. Too often, he just ran his mouth and that's what got him in trouble.