With Halloween in the rear-view mirror, the ghosts and ghouls are gone ’til next October and the kiddies can sleep comfortably without checking under the bed for the Boogeyman. The calendar turned it’s page November, Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers, and now it’s Major League Baseball who’s checking under its bed.
One of baseball’s most historic franchises is on the market, and there is a t-shirt-wearing, fist-pumping, cigar-smoking billionaire in the discussion to buy it. Mark Cuban is baseball’s Boogeyman.
In a business in which owners are traditionally stuffy, necktie-clad bigwigs who sit in the suites and keep their distance from the action, Cuban is an outlier. A maverick, pun intended.
He wears jeans and sneakers to the stadium, he yells at officials, he high-fives players, and he genuinely loves the atmosphere of sports. He’s just like any of us. Only difference is Cuban has a net worth of $2.5 billion.
In his ownership with the Dallas Mavericks, Cuban has proved he has a hunger for success and that his off-kilter approach to the business can work and has worked. He’s a billionaire and he spends money like it’s burning his pockets. This raises the question: why is baseball afraid of Mark Cuban?
In an interview with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio, former commissioner of Major League Baseball Fay Vincent described his discomfort with the prospect of Cuban joining the fraternity of pencil-necked team owners.
“I went through the Steinbrenner business. Some of the behavior of owners can be very troublesome for commissioners. I don’t think Mr. Cuban’s been an easy partner or owner for David Stern, and that would put me on my guard if he were to come to baseball,” said Vincent.
Well, don’t get too excited there, Fay! Sure, George Steinbrenner is probably responsible for every grey hair on the heads of Vincent and Bud Selig, but was he bad for baseball? He turned the Yankees into a brand. He helped keep baseball relevant as football and basketball rocketed in popularity.
I’m not saying Cuban will be Steinbrenner West, but is it bad if he is? So what if he is a walking, talking pain in Selig’s side. If he brings a rebirth to Los Angeles baseball, isn’t that a trade Selig would be willing to make? Vincent had more to say:
“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 his franchise into total success.”