Feb 032011


Seemingly every time a baseball team is on the brink of being sold we start hearing a lot about Mark Cuban. The 52-year-old billionaire is the owner of the perennially successful Dallas Mavericks, a team which he transformed from a league doormat to a top Western Conference talent. While he’s widely known for his antics at Mavericks games (he attends them all home and away) his personality has overshadowed his accomplishments as an owner.

Cuban was a breath of fresh air for Dallas, changing the way the entire front office thought about basketball operations. He hired statistical analysts, one of the first basketball owners to do so. He changed the way the players were accommodated, hired nutritionists to develop individualized meals for the athletes, upgraded their travel accommodations and even was the first owner to personally ask for and answer e-mail in the early 2000s. He’s a complete paragon as an owner. He doesn’t attend games in a luxury box dressed in a suit with his pals. He sits behind the bench in a Mav’s Jersey screaming at officials. He’s as much a fan as he is an owner. He’s even responsible for the 3 sided shot clock- after readers e-mailed him complaining that the shot clock on top of the basket wasn’t visible from all angles, he went ahead and installed a 3 sided clock which can now be found in every arena in the NBA.

So is it really surprising that Bud Selig keeps a guy like this out of ownership in favor of this idiot who literally bought the team with borrowed money and a big parking lot? Well if you know Bud, it’s not. Here’s a money quote from Rob Neyer:

“Major League Baseball prefers – and maybe requires, unofficially – prospective owners with plenty of money but very little public credibility. That way, they’re more likely to be grateful for being allowed into the club, and willing to (mostly) take their marching orders from the Commissioner’s Office. Go along to get along.

Mark Cuban never really had a chance, for the simple reason that his money is largely irrelevant. Baseball teams are worth what they’re worth. You might figure they simply go to the highest bidder, but that’s not really how it works. Essentially, MLB decides how much the team is worth, three or four ownership groups put together financial packages for that amount, and MLB chooses one of them. In that scenario, Mark Cuban’s going to finish last every time, because MLB doesn’t need his money and MLB doesn’t want an owner who’s already famous and won’t keep his mouth shut. “

And that’s really the problem with baseball isn’t it? From instant replay to the way it fails to market its smaller franchises and younger stars, Major League baseball has languished in a way. Of course the league is making money and people still go to games but how much better could it be doing? Will baseball continue to get completely eclipsed by the NFL forever? There hasn’t been any outcry about the two small market teams in the super bowl on Sunday, has there? I can’t imagine what the whining would be like for a Pirates Twins World Series. Have you SEEN these commercials? Have you had to endure watching the MLB Network?

I digress. This isn’t about Bud Selig being the worst commissioner in sports (although he is). This is about how good it would be for the game to have an owner like Mark Cuban leading the Pirates or Astros. The way the New York fans lionize George Steinbrenner is there any reason to think Mets fans wouldn’t do the same for Mark Cuban? How much fun would it be to have another giant monolith of an owner to root against? How great would it be to have Mark Cuban pushing the innovation of a league that still likes to think of itself as planted in the 1970s?

Sadly we’ll probably never find out. After running into all the roadblocks it looks like Cuban is done chasing the elusive grasp of MLB ownership. I think that’s really too bad for all of us.

13 Responses to “Give This Man a Baseball Team”

  1. Mark Cuban would be terrible for baseball so I’m glad he’s been kept far away from the game.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris Reply:

    In what way? He sure hasn’t been terrible for basketball even though people dislike him. Was the Boss bad for baseball? Because if so I’m sure 1000 other team fans wished they had an owner ruin baseball for them.

    As someone who lives in Houston and has seen this teams owner care about nothing but attendance it would be nice to see someone actually want to re-invest money back into the team instead of trying to squeeze every last penny out of a “business venture” for himself. I was so disappointed to hear Cuban wouldn’t even be making a bid on the Astros!  (Quote)

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    Mitchell Reply:

    In the way that I never want to see baseball go the way that basketball has gone. Loud, crude and low rent. Cuban is a rich punk who has no concept of anything other than verbalizing his own rages whenever they pop into his head. Baseball doesn’t need him, his money or his ‘tude.  (Quote)

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  2. I agree with the sentiment completely-guys like Cuban are what’s good about sports. (That’s from a Celtic’s fan.)  (Quote)

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  3. T.O. Chris’s reply is exactly what I’m talking about. How excited would you be if Cuban took your team over if you’re a Pirate or Astros fan? You know right away he’d spend the money needed to turn you into a contender and he would hire people that would spend that money in a prudent way. He’s an aggressive personality, just like the boss, good to root for if he owns your team and good to root against if you’re in the same division with him. I bet a lot fan bases wished he own their team.  (Quote)

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  4. Bud Selig is not the worst Commissioner in sports. As bad as he is, he’s never cancelled an entire season. Gary Bettman did. Also, take a look at some of the people running the world’s various governing bodies for soccer. They make Selig look positively tolerable by comparison.

    But Selig is still going to a place where there is no baseball. Which, by my definition, is hell.  (Quote)

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    Sean P Reply:

    No but there was a lengthy strike in baseball as well remember.

    And while Bettman will probably be the runner up for worst commissioner in sports, he was brave enough to recognize the league was floundering and change the rules to get more scoring, implemented a comprehensive instant replay system and come up with the idea of the Winter Classic which is a smashing success. Not to mention he jumped on that 24/7 idea straight away on HBO this December and has used Crosby and Ovechkin to market the whole league. Even the NHL network is more popular than the MLB Network (which is actually outpaced by….the Golf Channel. Yes, the golf channel).

    Now I give Selig credit for the inter league games and all that. But baseball just hasn’t made any real progress since then in comparison to the NFL or NBA. Look at instant replay for instance.

    I just feel like we could be doing a lot better than we are with a younger more dynamic and progressive commissioner.  (Quote)

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    JohnnyC Reply:

    The owners like him. They keep rubber-stamping his re-election as commish. They pay him close to $20 million a year. He selects new owners who can’t challenge him and who will actually think he’s good at what he does (because they’re greedy little businessmen who see owning a team as self-fellation rather than a sacred trust between the team and its fanbase). All the things, by the way, that characterized Selig when he owned the Brewers.  (Quote)

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  5. I confess I have issues with Cuban because of his links to 9-11 conspiracies, but the more I read about him, the more I think I judged him prematurely.

    Whether or not Cuban is the right guy, I do think Sean is right that this is the sort of personality we should be getting into the sport.  (Quote)

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  6. T.O. Chris’s reply is exactly what I’m talking about. How excited would you be if Cuban took your team over if you’re a Pirate or Astros fan? You know right away he’d spend the money needed to turn you into a contender and he would hire people that would spend that money in a prudent way. <(Quote)

    Probably the best reason not to hand him the Mets.

    The Mets are a mess right now, but those of us old enough to remember know that this team can be HUGE when handled correctly. Give this team competent ownership and management, and it will come back big. They don’t need a Mark Cuban to do it.

    If we are to let Cuban buy a team, it makes more sense to give him a smaller, struggling team (like the Timberwolves) that could really benefit from what he would bring, that would have trouble competing and marketing itself without the resources he could bring.  (Quote)

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    Sean P Reply:

    Yeah I agree, I’d like to see him take a team from the small market pool and turn it around. Whats so heartbreaking is that he originally wanted to buy the Pittsburgh Pirates because that’s his hometown, but he was turned away on that also. Would have been a great story, home town guy and self made billionaire returns Pirates to limelight.  (Quote)

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