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Friday Five, Part II: Worst owners
Can't really do the best owners (see here) without doing the worst, too, right? Wouldn't be balanced.
Besides, there'll be no Friday Five a week from now, so we'll do two today.
We'll start from the flat-out worst and work our way back towards the best, relatively speaking:
30. FRANK McCOURT, Los Angeles Dodgers
This is an easy one. Despite decent on-the-field results - hey, even this year, the Dodgers have a National League Most Valuable Player candidate in Matt Kemp and an NL Cy Young Award candidate in Clayton Kershaw - McCourt has decimated the prestigious Dodgers brand with his off-the-field shenanigans.
It's truly amazing how loathed McCourt seems to be, both among the Dodgers fan base and in the Major League Baseball offices. And yet McCourt - partly to his credit in a perverse way, I suppose, like when George Costanza kept driving his former in-laws to his pretend Hamptons house, even though he knew they knew he was lying, in this "Seinfeld" episode - keeps on fighting
29. DRAYTON McLANE, Houston Astros
Whereas McCourt comes off as shrill and in serious denial concerning his situation, McLane is friendly and eminently likeable. No one doubts that he wants the best for his team and for his fans.
Nevertheless...there is much doubt over whether McLane knows what's best for his team and for his fans. While he can take credit for the state of Texas' first World Series entry, the 2005 Astros, let's face it: The Astros were very lucky that Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens happened to make their homes in the Houston area. Gerry Hunsicker, the very sharp general manager, left after 2004, reportedly because he tired of McLane's interference.
Now, the Astros are in shambles, having just traded away Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, and McLane's sale of the team to Jim Crane has yet to be approved. Tough times for Astros fans, who showed back in the Clemens/Pettitte years that they were ready to come out for a good team.
28. JEFFREY LORIA, Florida Marlins
When Major League Baseball feels compelled to announce that your operating expenses will be monitored, as occurred with the Marlins in 2010, that doesn't reflect positively upon what you're doing.
Loria has put together a good baseball operations department that consitently fields interesting teams on small budgets; shoot, let's not forget the Marlins won the 2003 World Series. But it's impossible to ignore how much silliness has surrounded this franchise, both with the aforementioned concerns that the Marlins were pocketing their revenue-sharing money and with the merry-go-round of managers.
Loria and his son-in-law David Samson both are too hands-on in baseball operations, multiple people in the know assert, and that works to the organization's detriment.
27. PETER ANGELOS, Baltimore Orioles
He has climbed up from number 30 the last time we did this list, in 2008, so this actually represents progress. That he's still on here is because we can't ignore the history, which kicked off the still-active streak of 13 straight losing seasons and counting, and because Angelos' hiring of Andy MacPhail to head baseball operations, while sensible and admirable at the time, simply hasn't worked out.
Perhaps if the Orioles competed in another division, they'd put up better results and be regarded differently. But this is the hand that Angelos has been dealt, and both the Rays and the Blue Jays have responded well to the bar being set too high. The Orioles, in comparison, have not.
26. FRED WILPON, Mets
The inclusion of Wilpon here reflects, in part, that the ownership bar has been raised throughout the industry. The last time we did this, after all, we included San Diego's John Moores, who has now yielded to the superior Jeff Moorad, and Cincinnati's Bob Castellini, who has exhibited more commitment and rational behavior the last few years.
Yes, Wilpon has a World Series ring, and yes, he is beloved within the ownership fraternity, and yes, if you've seen him speak, you know how much he lives and dies with every pitch of the season.
But we can't be blind, deaf and dumb here, right? This list is based on competence, and the Mets have been woefully incompetent far too often for such a big-market team. The bad hires. The bad signings. The poor utilization of the amateur draft. The failure to recognize Mets history upon the opening of the otherwise charming Citi Field.
That the Wilpons' and Saul Katz's involvement with Bernie Madoff impacted their baseball operations understandably drew the fans' wrath.
The hiring of Sandy Alderson was good and necessary, and if you're a Mets fan, there's reason for optimism, although the ongoing Madoff litigation (there's a court appearance Friday involving the $700 million that Madoff trustee Irving Picard wants) makes it difficult to offer too clear of a forecast. So maybe when we do this list three years from now, Wilpon won't be here anymore.
Right now, though? He's earned it.
--Have a great day.