Blog Entry

Approval may not come easy for Crane

Posted on: May 19, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 12:01 pm
By Matt Snyder

Earlier this week, Drayton McLane agreed to sell the Astros to Jim Crane for $680 million, though the sale isn't finalized until the bid is examined by MLB's ownership committee and executive council. From there, Crane would have to be approved by the current MLB owners in a vote. Most of the time, these hurdles are a mere formality, but Crane may have an issue.

Back in 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that Crane's company -- Eagle Global Logistics -- had discriminatory workplace practices. (New York Times) Now, lots of times just hearing something like that sends people into a tizzy on each side of the fence. There will be a line of people claiming everything is considered discriminatory these days and a line of people ready to convict sight unseen.

Let's take a long look at some of the findings, though. I'll present both sides and let's please consider both before making a decision, OK? Here we go.

On the bad side (for Crane):

There was an accusation that Crane told his managers not to hire blacks because "once you hire blacks, you can never fire them." There were also witnesses that said Crane never publicly advertised job openings for fear qualified minority job seekers would apply.

Some other claims: "Eagle had also demoted women from managerial positions, maintained a hostile workplace, paid blacks, Hispanics and women less than male and white counterparts, and shredded important documents."

Some former employees did file a civil lawsuit against Crane and his company and he settled out of court for $8.5 million.

On the good side (for Crane):

Crane admitted no wrongdoing in the lawsuit, so it's very well possible he was just trying to eliminate bad publicity before the case gained any further notoriety. Also, Crane and his company have continually denied the allegations, and have since gotten $6 million of the settlement back due to only 10 percent of the initial claims being deemed worthy of compensation.

One of Crane's lawyers said the case was "an unfortunate example of an unfounded prosecution of a private employer."

Also, the case never went to trial -- so none of the witnesses were deposed in a court of law.

What is all means

Obviously, Crane is going to have to answer some questions to Major League Baseball and his prospective fellow owners. The allegations are a decade old, so even if there was some wrongdoing, Crane could convince the powers-that-be that he's learned his lesson and changed. Or he could say the charges were all bogus and use some of the evidence he has in hand.

One of the biggest areas of concern for Major League Baseball has to be the public relations one. The league need not try the case or anything of the sort, but if an owner is widely considered discriminatory by the fans, it's bad for business. The NAACP has said Crane has a "dismal record in the area of discrimination." Many of the owners might feel there's no reason to bring in an owner that draws that kind of sentiment from anyone -- as there are bound to be suitable owners out there with zero baggage. It is an exclusive club, after all, being that there are only 30 franchises. It's not like it's a court room where they have to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt. It could simply be a matter of not wanting to deal with any fallout.

Also, looking down the road, do the Astros have trouble landing minority players via free agency? Do members of the front office sour on the potential new owner? These are certainaly secondary considerations at this point, but ones I wouldn't mind hearing an opinion on from Astros fans.

All in all, what appeared a relatively uneventful sale at first might actually get a bit messy. Time will tell.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 10, 2011 11:36 am

Approval may not come easy for Crane

Hello there, I recently ceased by the to search your individual blogging and site-building web-site together with theorized I'd thank you with regard to attaining my opinion.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: May 19, 2011 3:05 pm

Approval may not come easy for Crane

Just get McLane the eff out of Houston. That is what the fans want.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: May 19, 2011 1:29 pm

Approval for Crane

Too bad in many fans' eyes (and perhaps players' as well) he's going to be guilty even if proven innocent. 

Since: Mar 10, 2007
Posted on: May 19, 2011 12:54 pm

Approval may not come easy for Crane

First, thank you for writing an article that reports the situation objectively.  That is such a rarity on this site, so it deserves a shout-out.  For the first time in a very long time, I read an article on here, and did not have a clear idea of what the writer's opinion was at the end of it.  Outstanding!

Second, to quote your quote...

Eagle had also demoted women from managerial positions, maintained a hostile workplace, paid blacks, Hispanics and women less than male and white counterparts, and shredded important documents.

Okay, if the company was purposely paying minorities less, just because they are minorities, then there's a legitimate beef here, and Crane probably shouldn't be approved for ownership.  People should be paid based on their skills, nothing more, nothing less.

However, "also demoted women from managerial positions" leaves a LOT of wriggle room.  What percentage of women were demoted or fired in a given year?  What percentage of white men were demoted or fired in that same year?  The statement has no context to it at all.

As for

There was an accusation that Crane told his managers not to hire blacks because "once you hire blacks, you can never fire them."

If true, it's a crass over-reaction on Crane's part, and is an unnecessary extreme.  However, as much people don't like to hear it, there IS a strong element of truth to the logic.  If my company wants to fire me tomorrow, there's very little I can do about it if I'm white.  If I'm a minority, it's much more difficult to fire me because I can immediately claim discrimination.

I would say that the overall truth is probably somewhere in the middle (amazing how that ends up happening about 95% of the time).  He settled for $8.5 million, but got $6 million back because 90% of the claims were not deemed worthy of compensation.  However, that leaves 10% that were bad enough to deserve payment.  Is that one claim or 200 claims.  The answer to that probably should determine whether he gets approved or not.

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: May 19, 2011 12:34 pm

Approval may not come easy for Crane

My bad, fixed.

- Matt

Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: May 19, 2011 11:55 am

Approval may not come easy for Crane

Matt, you are a writer, you're supposed to make sure your article is published without mistakes or grammatical errors.
I just had to say this because it was too obvious a mistake to let slide.
At the end of your second paragraph you write "sight on scene".  That should be "sight unseen".
Quite a different meaning when you see it written correctly, isn't it?

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