The same man who banned George Steinbrenner when he “dug up dirt” on Dave Winfield, the same man who had a coniption fit when Pete Rose was honored by the Cincinnati Reds for a 25th anniversary of breaking Ty Cobb’s All-Time hits record, is now the same man who thinks Mark Cuban would be a terrible baseball owner. These are a few of the quotes from Vincent’s recent interview on ESPN Radio on Wednesday morning:
“I went through the Steinbrenner business. Some of the behavior of owners can be very troublesome for commissioners,” Vincent said. “I don’t think Mr. Cuban’s been an easy partner or owner for (NBA commissioner) David Stern, and that would put me on my guard if he were to come to baseball.
“The rules are the rules,” Vincent said during the radio interview. “I think this enormous criticism—the screaming about officials, the kinds of things that got him fined by David—those are not the actions of a sensible, responsible owner.
“I mean, winning is not everything, and I’m afraid for some of these owners. They get so carried away with winning, they believe that’s the objective.
“I think it’s more important for owners to be gentlemen, play by the rules, respect the authorities, do what’s good for the sport, than it is to manage a franchise into total success,” Vincent said. “The subtleties make the difference. George Steinbrenner was a real problem in baseball, and I think Mark Cuban is a real problem in basketball.”
Actually, Cuban would be a fantastic owner! Fay Vincent is so very, very wrong here. Gone are the days of the good ol’ boy, the owner who was a successful lawyer, like Peter Angelos, or a car salesman, like Bud Selig. The money of the world lies in the creative minds of those like Cuban, and those vying for baseball in San Jose, who can’t get a team even if they outbid Nolan Ryan or the Ricketts. Does it matter where the money comes from? Technology in the Silicon Valley has led to a change in who and where the wealth in America lies. When did money become such a negative thing in ownership of a team? Does winning at all cost hurt the game? If so, shouldn’t the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox and Mets be contracted? How would Twins fans feel if Carl Pohlad, worth $2.6 billion in 2006, had put more than $63 million into a team that won 96 games? Maybe they would have won another title!
It doesn’t matter who the owner is, fans want to win. What part of a fan is okay with having a run of 18-losing seasons like the Pittsburgh Pirates? What owner is okay with that? “Yeah, it’s cool, I don’t want a parade. I don’t need a legacy and neither do my players.” How do you think the city of Boston would feel if it wasn’t about winning, having just had their 7th parade in the last 10 years?
Mark Cuban may be loud and obnoxious, but he is what baseball needs. The season has 81 home games and fans need a reason to get excited for each one of them. If teams don’t offer fireworks or bobbleheads, they aren’t selling out. Mark Cuban has made the Dallas Mavericks an event. He has made them relevant, and he has made them champions for the first time in their 30+ years of existence.
Baseball is also different than basketball in many ways. There isn’t a fieldside seat, meaning, Cuban would be another “fan” screaming at umpires from the seats. He can’t be in the dugout like he is right behind the bench in Dallas. If he has a problem with umpiring, who doesn’t? Umpires have their own agenda, especially Joe West, and don’t even follow the so-called rules that Fay Vincent holds so dear and valuable to the game. When rules are negotiable, how gentlemanly do you do expect people to be? Put a microphone in front of any owner who actually watches a game and see what they really think.
The only issue here is that generational gaps lead Mark Cuban to look like he has no respect for the game and authority. Society wants immediate results, they want immediate communication (see Facebook, email, and Twitter), and those same people want to win now (see Vancouver riots). People aren’t as laid back as they used to be. Entitlement may have something to do with that, but you don’t see people mailing letters to people very often anymore, you don’t see kids walking to their friends house to see if they want to hang out, and you don’t see people satisfied with losing – see unemployment lines and Charlie Sheen.
Mark Cuban is what baseball needs. As ratings and attendance cripple the finances of teams that aren’t in New York, Philadelphia, or Boston, something needs to get the fans there. If it comes at the cost of the gentleman ideaology that has made our government as non-democratic as it was intended, then baseball should react before their own recession gets worse.