- Associated Press - Monday, August 15, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Major League Baseball postponed a vote to approve the proposed sale of the Houston Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane.

The $680 million agreement was reached May 16, and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said at the All-Star game last month that the sale was on track for approval. McLane said Monday that the settlement of a discrimination suit a decade ago against Crane’s former company was not an issue.

“The standard due diligence that must be completed before any transaction of this magnitude can close remains ongoing,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement. “Because that procedure is continuing, it is not expected that the proposed sale of the Astros will go to the approval process at this week’s owners meetings. Major League Baseball will continue to work as expeditiously as possible to complete the process.”

McLane and Crane had anticipated a vote when owners meet Thursday in Cooperstown.

“He was certainly disappointed,” McLane said after speaking with Crane. “If you could just see the form you have to fill out on every investor, and then they have an investigative group, and they follow up on all of that. Jim knows the complexity. He was anxious. We had hoped to get this thing completed a week from today. It will most likely get done in two weeks.”

Houston’s proposed sale price trails only the $845 million purchase of the Chicago Cubs by the Ricketts family two years ago. The $660 million sale of the Boston Red Sox in 2002 currently is second.

Like the Astros‘ deal, the transactions involving the Cubs and Red Sox included related entities.

“The Jim Crane group is a large group, and the commissioner called today and said for a number of reasons, they have not been able to complete all of the work, both with the financial and the investigation, and it should take no more than 10 days to two weeks to get that completed,” McLane said. “The financing is good. I think the investigation of the individuals, they are some of the most outstanding people in Houston. I see no issue, whatsoever.”

In October 2001, Crane’s former company, Eagle Global Logistics, agreed to a $9 million settlement of a lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which alleged race, sex and age discrimination against employees and job applicants. It included $8.5 million in back pay and damages and a $500,000 fund to train women and minorities for leadership jobs at the company.

“The EEOC issue, I think that’s all been investigated, talked about,” McLane said. “That was 11 years ago, and a fair settlement with the Department of Justice was reached. They moved on on that issue. I think that’s not an issue that’s involved at all.”

With the postponement of the vote, no major actions are expected at the owners’ meeting.

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AP Sports Writer Chris Duncan in Houston contributed to this report.