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The five best and five worst owners

Aug 19, 2011, 12:34 PM EDT

Liverpool Football club's co-owner, John Getty Images

Ken Davidoff of Newsday just got back from the owners meetings and he decided to go all listy: the five best owners in baseball and, of course, the five worst owners in baseball.

I don’t have any disagreements with the best-of list. The results pretty much speak for themselves at the top, and I agree with his choice of Mike Illitch on that list. Everyone complains about cheap owners. Well, the Tigers don’t have the kind of cash flow or market size as do the Yankees and the Red Sox, but Illitch spends his money on the team anyway because he realizes that the point is to win games and have fun, not to optimize one’s estate plan or whatever.

The surprise on the worst list is Drayton McLane. I mean, I know that the Astros are a mess right now, and a lot of that is because he seemed content to play puppet master to the overmatched Ed Wade, but I’m kind of shocked that makes him worse than Jeff Loria, for example.

Fun stuff.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    “Probably the Lucchino-fueled shenanigans that led Theo Epstein to resign following the 2005 season. But that lasted only a few months. Epstein was back in place by the start of the 2006 campaign.”

    He calls this a misstep??? Had this not happened, the Red Sox probably would have never made the Beckett trade, and likely would not have won the 2004 World Series. If anything, this may have been one of the BEST things to happen to the Red Sox in the last 10 years.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      OOPS…2007 World Series. But I’m not calling for an edit function. Nope, not me.

  2. deathmonkey41 - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Am I missing something? I don’t see where it lists the five worst…

    • phillyphever - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:48 PM;JSESSIONID=D2FD3BE5763664230930.3133?site=newsday&view=sports_blogs_item&feed:a=newsday_5min&feed:c=sports_blogs&feed:i=1.3107739&nopaging=1

      • natstowngreg - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:29 PM


  3. SmackSaw - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    Hal Steinbrenner? He’s gonna run the Yankees into the ground. Once they cycle through this last phase of the players The Boss influenced, they’ll go down the tubes. Hal is nowhere near as gutsy as the old man. He’s not “win at all costs”. He’s happy fielding a contending team every year.

    • aceshigh11 - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      What cycle of players?

      You mean Jeter, Posada and Rivera?

      Those players were cultivated when Steinbrenner was banned from meddling in the day-to-day functions of the team.

      Gene Michael is really the man responsible for that core of players that won in ’96 through 2000, and 2009.

      • SmackSaw - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:21 PM

        Stick was The Boss’s guy. You’re naive if you think Steinbrenner had no input.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:21 PM

      Hal is nowhere near as gutsy as the old man. He’s not “win at all costs”

      Yeah, I mean remember when the Yanks signed Sheffield instead of Beltran because the Boss got his way? Or when the Yanks f’d over the Diamonds b/c the Boss got Wells to commit to them instead of the D’backs (which then let the Dbacks trade Schilling to the Sox for a bag of balls to get back at the Yanks), and when the Boss demanded the Yanks get Mondesi after a mishap in right field cost them a game? How’d all those moves work out?

      I have a lot more faith in the longterm goals of the Yanks precisely because the Boss isn’t in charge anymore. The Yanks actually have a decent farm system which allowed them to trade for Swisher and Granderson. They’ve stocked up on a ton of arms and catchers. And, when they let the damn GM do his job, they tend to not make mistakes.

      But yes, they’ll go down the tubes, umm, sometime…

    • paperlions - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:24 PM

      Did you never notice that the less George was involved the better the team was? The old man had no idea what he was doing and regularly made horrible decisions. Kudos to him for spending on his team and wanting to win….but they didn’t win because George knew anything about baseball or winning….but because they spent a lot of money and at times have had great baseball men running things.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:38 PM

        The old man had no idea what he was doing and regularly made horrible decisions

        Now let me defend him. Did he make some horrible decisions, yes. But he wasn’t at the inept level of the Astros for instance. Problem with today’s game is you don’t know who is making what decision. We know about the ones above because everyone else involved distanced themselves from those ideas. But what about getting David Justice in ’00? That would be a boss move but we don’t know who ordered/authorized it. Trade for Knoblauch? Trade for O’Neill?

        Also, if you think the Boss didn’t have a hand in all the moves that were going on while he was suspended, well…

      • aceshigh11 - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:04 PM

        I hear what you’re saying, Church…never said that he abided by the banning 100%, but it clearly diminished his authority.

        Also…the fact that Steinbrenner had near-unlimited cash to paper over his big mistakes helped…it’s not like the Astros, where one inept move paralyzes the team’s finances.

  4. marshmallowsnake - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    Philly was not number 1? I know this was not your list, but you should expect some slack…

    • kellyb9 - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:01 PM

      Craig’s list has a 3 way tie 😀

      • marshmallowsnake - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:03 PM

        LOL! He does not want Philly fans to be happy…so maybe a 2 way?

      • Utley's Hair - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:15 PM

        Two way…three way…there’s a joke in there somewhere…

      • marshmallowsnake - Aug 19, 2011 at 3:50 PM

        Very true.

    • aceshigh11 - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      The Red Sox have won two World Series under the current ownership.

      After this year, the Phillies may very well move up to the #1 slot. In fact, even as a Sox fan, I’m betting on it.

      • marshmallowsnake - Aug 19, 2011 at 3:51 PM

        As a fellow sox fan. I say hush!!!!

  5. kellyb9 - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    There should be some kind of limits on these, I know you have to mention the Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox in every article, but Hal Steinbrenner, really? I mean he’s only really owned the team for about 12 minutes compared to some of these other guys. I’m not saying he isn’t good or he isn’t going to be good, but IMO, it’s a little early to tell on that one.

    • Utley's Hair - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:16 PM

      Hal’s better than Hank, right?

      • kellyb9 - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:18 PM

        I get them all mixed up, they all look the same to me (including George). I swear he just cloned himself.

      • SmackSaw - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:23 PM

        Hank’s retarded.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:23 PM

        There is no Hank. After the Arod signing Hal and Cashman had Hank shipped off Australia or Philadelphia or something. I heard they tried to trade him to the Marlins for Hanley but it didn’t take.

  6. icanspeel - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    This is the part where everyone rooting for non winning teams chimes in about their owner haha.

    My beef is with Jeff Moorad owner of the Padres as he was allowed to purchase the team on a layaway plan (which doesn’t have to be paid off until spring 2014) so the fact he didn’t have money to outright buy the team makes him a bad owner as he puts out a low payroll and uses what they make to finish paying off the team.

  7. natstowngreg - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    When John Henry took over the Red Sox in the whole Expos-Marlins-Red Sox ownership fiasco, I thought the Red Sox were in trouble. But looking at it objectively, it turned out to be a great move for the team.

    • Old Gator - Aug 19, 2011 at 5:22 PM

      Which team?

  8. thekingdave - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Drayton McLane is the worst owner in MLB, and it goes beyond Ed Wade. Most of the Astros success in the late 90s/early 00s can be traced back to Gerry Hunsicker, whom McLane foolishly ran off. The decline started with Tim Purpura, and McLane’s unwillingness to pay above slot price killed the farm system. MMP was rocking as little as 5 years ago. Now, total ghost town.

  9. thekingdave - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    ??? Houston’s the 4th largest city in the US. When the team is good, the revenues are there.

  10. professor59 - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    I’m not seeing the Pirates owner here. If missing the playoffs for 13 years was enough to indict Angelos, then no winning record since 1992 oughta put Pitt up there, too.

  11. halladaysbiceps - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Another one of these lists. Last week, it was yet another list as to what is the best franchises in baseball. Also, last week was why Ryan Howard is the 7th best player for the Phillies. Now, this week, a list of the best owners in baseball. If you guys are this smart, why not join a government think tank or some lucrative private company that would use your intelligence to a better degree than what you are coming up with? You are too smart to being wasting your talents on baseball.

  12. Justin - Aug 19, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    Am I wrong to think the Twins should be around somewhere? I may be biased because I am a fan but in the last 25 years we won 2 world series and the Central many times. I know some fans of bigger market teams may laugh at only 2 World Series but hey we are notorious for a small payroll (This year excluded).

    Unless the list is saying hey these are great owners because they lock down star players and bring in more star power. If that is the case then I would say it seems pretty accurate. Of course top 5 can always be argued but who should be there isn’t too debatable.

  13. The Baseball Idiot - Aug 19, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Any list of the worst owners that doesn’t have David Glass on it is not a real list. It’s just a wanna be list.

  14. indaburg - Aug 19, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    I am split about Sternberg’s inclusion on the list. While I like that he has hired some good people to run the Rays, I take exception to the line: “Sternberg and the Rays will someday find a suitable home.” The Rays could have a new stadium anywhere they want tomorrow, IF Stewie was willing to pay for it himself. Stewie wants Tampa Bay, or some other sucker city to pay for his stadium so he can turn around and sell the team for a huge profit.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 19, 2011 at 5:03 PM

      Unfortunately they can’t move. Naimoli signed a 30 year lease with the Trop that would probably cost a fortune to break.

  15. Old Gator - Aug 19, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    Are we making any technical distinctions here between “worst owner” and “biggest asshole”? Scrooge McLoria makes the list anyway, but it’s a question of rankings.

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