The 15 Worst Owners in Sports - Rolling Stone
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The 15 Worst Owners in Sports

Frackers, racists and robbers – you don’t need to be a bad person to own a pro franchise, but it certainly helps

Daniel Snyder, nfl

Daniel Snyder

Jonathan Newton/Getty

Sports arguments compensate for our powerlessness. We will never be permitted on the playing field, court or ice to change the outcome of the game – and even if we were, we’d be toast – so we soothe our nerves by preemptively doubting the efficacy of a play, screaming at it as it happens and second-guessing the whole thing when it’s done. Then, because God is unfair, we lose anyway. The loser has even more reason to argue, if only because a verbal battle prosecuted on its behalf is the only thing his team can win anyway.

And if you lose – I mean, really lose – there is no argument more fulfilling than that of who has the worst owner. Because if you can make that one stick, then everything else explains itself: bad players, coaching, drafting, trades, talent evaluation, conditioning? Well, you know what, the owner picked those assholes, or he picked the asshole who picked those assholes. He is Lord High Asshole of His Asshole Realm.

Each asshole’s sports kingdom doesn’t exist in a vacuum, however. If sports were the only criterion, then the worst owner would be the one with the worst winning percentage every year. These people live in the real world, too. They bilk the public for tax breaks, exemptions and steep discounts on policing; they ignore impact and destroy surrounding infrastructure; they hold municipalities hostage; and they sit on their asses and reap millions annually in shared revenue while plundering young men (often of color and often from poor backgrounds) of their health and condemning them for wearing baggy pants, having tattoos, being “greedy” and “wrecking the game.”

As such, the correct answer to who is the worst owner in sports is all of them. Unfortunately, pulling the ripcord here and floating out of the frame is not a practical response. This is not ‘Nam; this is a listicle. There are rules. The following are the worst owners in American sports, in more or less increasing levels of boobery, mismanagement and personal/social vileness.

Jeffrey H. Loria

Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey H. Loria watches fielding practice during a spring training workout at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)

David Santiago/Getty


Jeffrey Loria, Miami Marlins

If you live outside the tax base of Miami, the most despicable thing Jeffrey Loria ever did came on the heels of one of the smartest things a sporting municipality every did: say no.

After an initial investment of $12 million in the Montreal Expos, Loria triggered a series of showdowns with fellow team owners and local government until he wound up with 94 percent control, an alienated fanbase and a sweetheart ride out of town. Loria sold the Expos to "Expos Baseball, LP," essentially Major League Baseball, for $120 million. He then bought the Marlins for $158.5 million, with the $38.5 million difference ponied up by MLB in an interest-free loan. After that, he committed to a strategy of cost-control with cheap young talent, selling off everything else, letting revenue sharing do the work of profit-making and crying poverty to the City of Miami, while resorting to the same threat game as in Montreal. ("San Antonio is a very viable market, and they're very serious. Read my lips: They're very serious.") It worked. Loria erected a white-and-pastel mausoleum massively underserved by public transportation, one so empty that the retail spaces in and surrounding it as well as parking remain un- or under-leased, cratering any illusion of the "revenue" that a publicly financed stadium would bring. In exchange, through 2048, the City of Miami is on the hook for $2.4 billion. With a B.

To complete the illusion that Loria would now use his new stadium to field a competitive team, he bought a lot of free agents, signed them to backloaded deals, then shipped them out within the year in a stunning 12-player trade that reduced his payroll obligations by $160 million. He even lied and told Jose Reyes to buy a house in Miami four days before exporting his ass to Canada. (So many awful things happened that year that you might as well just click this.) Loria is going to eschew free agents, trade away good players for prospects at the height of their value and keep "rebuilding" and pocketing revenue-sharing checks until he dies. Here's what baseball fans get in exchange: Go fuck yourself. In the meantime, he'll also probably continue meddling in baseball operations, switching starting pitchers and holding up talent moves, like he does already.

And he's already started on the competitiveness shell game again, signing slugger Giancarlo Stanton to a heavily backloaded $325 million contract that Keith Olbermann sublimely tore to bits just a day later. But you get to make those decisions when you're someone who got a start in this world buying art for Sears. Who are we to judge a baseball man who has drunk so deep from the cup of life? After all, besides immiserating and plundering two baseball towns and every fan in them, Loria's great contribution to the world is a book of philosophy based on Peanuts comic strips where he assures us that the pre-teen characters of that world aren't into wife-swapping.

Dan Snyder

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 07: Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder looks on before the New England Patriots play the Washington Redskins during an preseason NFL game at FedExField on August 7, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Patrick Smith/Getty


Daniel Snyder, Washington Redskins

If you've been paying attention to football this last year, you probably know Snyder as the staunch defender of an unambiguously racist name who can't stop putting a loafer in his mouth every time he opens it.

Snyder has marshaled every resource of the rich white asshole invoking tradition to defend the indefensible. There's this pro-Redskins AstroTurf campaign from a giant PR firm. There's Snyder co-opting any local media going knives-out on the name or the fact that his team is stupendously mismanaged. There's Snyder trying to buy silence from Indian tribes. There's Snyder trotting out multiple Indian defenders of the name who aren't even Indians, when he's not sitting in his luxury box with a Navajo Nation leader recently kicked out of office under corruption allegations and in disgust at partnering with Snyder's "Original Americans Foundation," a disingenuous whitewash PR group. There's Snyder sticking his fingers in his ears and pretending the Redskins were named to "honor" an "Indian" coach who turned out to be a German-American misrepresenting his race to avoid the WWI draft. Or sometimes he decides the name is meant to "honor" Indian "heritage" in general, and not as a marketing gimmick by their legendarily racist owner to identify the team with a much more popular baseball franchise.

And that's just the name. You could go on for pages about the paranoid, Hitler-in-the-bunker mentality of the team, or the blithe unconcern with a shredded field and player health that already nearly Cuisinarted RG III's knee. And you could go on for pages and pages and pages of what a clusterfuck of tire fires the Redskins have become under Snyder's tenure, all set ablaze by the flaming sack of dogshit that is what passes for his conscience. In fact, someone already has. Dave McKenna of the Washington City Paper wrote a devastatingly hysterical A-to-Z guide to every contemptuous, miserly, greed-headed, soul-dead move Snyder has pulled in D.C., every bit of it true. Snyder sued McKenna and the paper anyway, because he wanted to see if the size of his war chest would back them down. Because he could. Because he's Daniel Snyder, and because fuck you. Fuck your access to a true narrative, fuck your local pride, fuck your fandom, fuck your pocketbook, fuck your fun and fuck a genocide.

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