Mark Cuban is a funny, smart, charming, and successful NBA owner. Most NBA fans wish they had a guy like Cuban running their team. Most NBA owners appreciate the attention (and revenue) he’s driven to the league. Most MLB owners, on the other hand, wish he would just go away. And so it goes with Mark Cuban’s efforts to infiltrate the Billionaire Boys Club known as Major League Baseball.
Anytime a MLB team gets put up for sale, ”media reports” link Cubes to the deal. First, it was the Pirates. Then the Cubs. Then the Rangers. Now, the Dodgers. As Cuban told some crappy off-shoot of ESPN:
“It all comes down to price… It’s important to have more than enough money to pay players and invest in the organization.”
At this point, one might think Bud would finally take pity on the guy, right? After all, if Cuban can transform the Dallas Mavericks from basement dwellers to regular playoff contenders to world champions, surely he deserves a shot at saving one of baseball’s greatest franchises?
Well, as my aunt used to say, “Dream on Alice, it’s a long way to Wonderland.”
Cuban, for all his success, is a loose cannon. Major League Baseball, much like THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE™, is not very quick to implement change or accept being held in derision. Their ownership is anything but progressive. Cuban is the exact opposite. This scares Bud. To wit:
On Cuban possibly buying the Cubs, according to MLB sources:
“There’s no way Bud and the owners are going to let that happen, zero chance.”
When Cuban sought ownership of the Rangers, the incumbent administration (read: MLB-backed bid) repeatedly lobbied to throw out Cuban’s bid, going as far to suggest if Cuban’s group won the auction for the team, there was only a “50-50 chance” MLB would approve the deal; thereby sending the asset back to bankruptcy court (and royally pissing off the team’s creditors). According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, there would have been “significant opposition” to Cuban controlling the franchise.
Throughout these trials and tribulations, Cuban has said all the right things. He’s professed a willingness to step aside and allow baseball people to run the show. He’s intimated he’d be willing to spend the money necessary to field a competitive team. As someone who cares about the “sanctity” of the game as much as anyone, I think he’d be an excellent addition — his commitment to winning and innovation would be more than welcome in a sport that is still afraid of instant replay.
Unfortunately, from field to front office, baseball is a game that moves incredibly slow, even more so when there’s money involved (which makes even more sense to bring in Cuban, a self-made billionaire). Allowing Cuban to own one of baseball’s crown jewels is a long shot at best, even at any price.