Thursday, February 10, 2011

Does New York have the worst owners in sports?

Yeah it's a hell of a question isn't it?

Ok, right away I would have to excuse the Jets' Woody Johnson and the Giants' John Mara and Steve Tisch from this conversation. Both teams have been run pretty well and none of those guys really have anything to be embarresed about for quite a while.

So let's look at the rest and leave the NFL owners out of this.

I don't think any of you need me to rehash this. The Mets' ownership has been a near laughing stock more often than not the last few years. From the weird constant shifting change of directions for the team in 2007-2009, the horrible handling of the Willie Randolph firing, the bizarre public relations snafu's, the entire Tony Bernazard debacle, the obvious loss of power of Omar Minaya, the way-too-much hands on work of Jeff Wilpon on team baseball strategy and running, the ponzi schemes, the bad press, the lack of respect the team gets despite being such a big market team... it's just an endless stream of embarrassment for this franchise. The latest lawsuit and the real possibility that the Wilpons and Katz may actually be forced to sell the team is just the latest in a list of things that no fan of the club wants to hear. If the team was winning at least you'd be able to take things in stride, but the last four seasons have been beyond rough.

What would you call an owner that spends a crapload of money, yet NEVER seems to have teams with winning seasons, all the while making bizarre decisions that no one can figure out? Yep, you call him James Dolan. The Knicks were not only run into the ground by long time Dolan favorite Isiah Thomas, they were crashed into a mountian, lit on fire, and blown up. For years, as Thomas made the Knicks into just about the most laughable franchise in ALL of sports, Dolan refused to even consider making a change. Once Thomas finally resigned (which really was more because of the sexual harrassment lawsuit against him than anything) it was a mere 15 months before it she was being eased back into a role with the team as a consultant. Dolan seems to want Thomas back as the team GM which is got to be the stupidest move in the history of the NBA. The Rangers have been uneven contenders over the last number of years and have not gotten past the 2nd round of the playoffs in over six years. They constantly have one of the higher payrolls in the NHL yet seem to constantly be just tossing players into roles and hoping they will be a fit. While the Rangers have been much more successful than the Knicks, it's Dolan's inability to steer clear of making bad decision after bad decision (or making NO decisions when it comes to Isiah Thomas' long term as GM and Coach) that seem to unite the two.

I don't even know how to begin with how bad Wang has been for the Islanders franchise. First there was the neverending reign of Mike Milbury (shades of the Dolan/Thomas debacle) which really just ripped the organization into a mess. After Milbury finally stepped down, Neil Smith was hired as a GM, but lasted only a month before being replaced with backup goalie Garth Snow. Of course there was the impossible to understand 15-year, 67.5 million dollar contract that Wang signed constantly injured goaltender Rick DiPietro to. Then there was the weird cost cutting that took what looked to be a promising team with an excellent coach in Ted Nolan and ended with Nolan being fired for "philosophy differences" and the team being reduced to bscially a minor league club in a major league division. The Islanders have made the playoffs once in the last seven years.

It's hard to call the Yankees ownership bad, since the team is often so sucessful, but it's almost not really fair to leave them out of this espcially when you consider how controversial George was as an owner for years. Factor in things like the bizarre on/off relationship with Billy Martin, The Richard Nixon re-election scandal, the Mr. May comments about (eventual hall of famer) Dave Winfield, the firing of manager Yogi Berra only 16 games into the season in 1985, The attempt to dig up dirt on Winfield with known gambler Howie Spira which led to Steinbrenner's being banned from baseball for life (a ban that was dropped only three years later), the constant meddling in day to day baseball operations... George was quite the backpage maven. His sons have been much more restained, but still have managed some weird snafu's of their own including the weird handling of Joe Torre at the end of his tenure as Yankee manager, the bizarre 10-yr $275 million contract to Alex Rodriguez after A-Rod opted out knowing no one else was coming close to anything remotely close to that sort of offer, the very public and rough handling of Derek Jeter's contract situation this off-season, and Hank Steinbrenner's often very quotable presence in the media. Of course Hal is pretty quiet and was only in the news recentually because of the big mouth of Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg. Unlike the four teams listed above however, the Yankees are quite sucessful year in and out and have enough sucess that taking all of the bizarre and craziness is easy.

Looking at the recent lack of success of a lot of these teams and the totally bizarre on-the-field happenings with them all, it's not hard to wonder why New York sports is often tossed about as being over the top. With owner's like this, maybe a LOT of the NEw York sports franchises could use some new blood.

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