Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Players Rank the Owners

Sports Illustrated ranks the owners, based on a player survey. While the author, Jon Heyman, notes the general pros and cons of each owner's tenure, many of them strike me as things that today's players may not necessarily care about and thus did not drastically impact the ranking (e.g. Wilpon's integrity in sending off Vince Coleman fourteen years ago; the construction of new stadiums a decade ago). Indeed, perusing the list, I'm noting a very strong correlation between a high ranking and how willing that owner tends to be to sign veteran free agents.

Not that it's all about the money. If it were, Angelos would be near the top, not down towards the bottom as he is in the survey. Rather, the common denominator among those ranked near the top seems to be a combination of free spending and a credible and demonstrated desire to put a winning team on the field. Being an asshole doesn't impact you negatively if you're winning (Steinbrenner is number 4), but it certainly does keep you in the cellar if you're not helping to build a winner.

For example, Arte Moreno comes in at number one, and I can see how players would hold him in high esteem for reasons other than how free he is with the pocketbook. He really has raised the profile of the Angels in Southern California -- I remember a time when you couldn't find 30 Angels fans if someone spotted you the players' wives -- and there is a sense that people really want to play for the Angels, which in turn has turned them into a perennial contender. If A-Rod opts out and signs in Anaheim this winter, Moreno will own this spot until he's dead and gone.

John Henry of Boston is number two. On the surface it makes sense -- he helped bring a championship to Beantown and the Red Sox brand is so ubiquitous now that people are becoming nauseated -- but the politics of Red Sox Nation are so complicated that I wouldn't be surprised if there are those that think he's the Antichrist. Certainly the players don't, however, and for now, this seems like an OK ranking.

Illitch, Steinbrenner, Wilpon, Magowan, Reinsdorf, and Attanasio round out the top eight. Again, all of these guys have shown a willingness to spend money, but not simply for its own sake. Rather, they have all put -- or are in well on the way to putting -- playoff teams on the field.

Workplace happiness seems to be a pretty simple formula for the players: pay me and help me win. It's amazing that some owners simply can't understand that.

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