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Things get testy during auction of Rangers

Lawyers for Mark Cuban asked late Wednesday that bidding for the Texas Rangers be done in increments of $10 million, five times more than the $2 million set by the rules, while the Nolan Ryan-Chuck Greenberg team again disputed the timing, details and legitimacy of the Dallas Mavericks owner's bid.

An angry Tom Lauria, attorney for Greenberg, told presiding Judge Russell Nelms that Cuban and Houston businessman Jim Crane do not have the financing in place to make good on their bid and that the Greenberg-Ryan team will not continue with the process.

But Cuban's attorney, Clifton Jessup, said his client wants to own the ballclub and accused Greenberg-Ryan of trying to avoid an auction.

Lenders, through Andrew Leblanc, said they are satisfied with Cuban team financial plans.

"We're not here for bluster, arguments or fluff," he told Nelms. "We want that team."

The flurry of activity came at 10 p.m., after almost three hours of behind-the-scenes wrangling at the federal courthouse in Fort Worth.

Earlier, Ryan-Greenberg had topped the latest bid by Cuban and Houston businessman Jim Crane by $2 million, but Cuban's lawyer immediately raised that by $15 million, bringing their bid a total of $40 million higher than the starting bid.

Court then recessed to allow Greenberg's side to discuss the details of the Cuban-Crane bid with chief restructuring officer William K. Snyder.

Nelms has told told the participants that things needed to move faster. Breaks to evaluate bids will be limited to 30 minutes or less, and the parties are not allowed to appeal directly to the judge but must talk to Snyder.

Earlier Wednesday, amid harsh disagreement over the legitimacy of Cuban's bid, Nelms said he was "willing to work through the night" to find a resolution.

Hanging over the entire process is a threat by Greenberg, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans' owner, and his attorney to appeal if Cuban-Crane is declared the winner of the auction.

Ryan, sitting alone atop the second-floor staircase at the Eldon B. Mahon U.S. Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth, said he doesn't believe things will end Wednesday.

"Don't think it's going to end tonight," the Rangers president said around 6 p.m., looking more weary than he ever did during his Hall of Fame pitching career. "I think we'll be back in the morning."

Cuban's initial bid, unsealed earlier Wednesday afternoon, was $25.3 million in cash higher than the offer from Ryan and Greenberg, sparking intense exchanges that spilled into the halls of the courthouse.

At 5:30 p.m., U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Russell Nelms said that Ryan and Greenberg had received a copy of the disputed bid and had been given a fresh hour to determine their next move. Around 6:45 p.m., Greenberg-Ryan made their counter-offer.

The disagreement with the initial Cuban-Crane bid was apparently over the exact amount of the bid, as well as its timing.

The $25.3 million included discounts that will be calculated based on the team's loss in value between confirmation of the sale and its closing, which requires final approval of Major League Baseball.

Greenberg told the Star-Telegram that he would appeal if Cuban-Crane wins the auction, repeating his attorney's allegations that the offer was not a qualified bid when it was turned in Tuesday night.

After some urgent alterations, which changed wording and the cash component, the auction officials allowed the bid to move forward on Wednesday.

Greenberg, whose financing agreements expire Aug. 12, said Cuban was trying to drag out the sale process.

"It's the grand Cuban strategy, is to slow this down and kill our financing," he said.

Jessup accused Greenberg's side of underhanded tactics that began Friday and continued through Tuesday night -- an apparent reference to reported attempts to get lenders to agree to Greenberg-Ryan buying the team and calling off the two-sided auction.

After the Cuban-Crane bid was unsealed in the afternoon, Greenberg's attorney, Tom Lauria, questioned the "discounts" and later exchanged expletives with another attorney in a hallway.

For his part, Clifton Jessup, Cuban's attorney, accused Greenberg-Ryan of doing the stalling.

"What they're trying to do is slow and delay the process because they can't stop it," he said.

On Tuesday night, Greenberg won the agreement of major lenders to buy the team before the auction. But the move was thwarted by the lead banker for secondary lenders, who are collectively owed more than $125 million, according to a source involved in the talks.

Another source said the person who opposed the deal was Sal

Greenberg and Ryan, the current Rangers president, believed earlier this year that they had purchased the team from Hicks. But lenders owed about $525 million by Hicks Sports Group objected to the deal, and the team declared bankruptcy.