It wasn’t so long ago that it seemed like the only qualifications you needed to be an owner of a MLB franchise was to, like, totally be BFFs with Bud Selig or one of the other owners and have at least one credit card that wasn’t maxed out.
But then the McCourts happened.
And then the Wilpons.
And now… every other prospective owner must suffer even if that owner was basically already in the club. Such is the plight of Jeff Moorad and the San Diego Padres.
If you aren’t familiar with Jeff Moorad, he is the former agent turned minority owner of the Padres, a minority owner who already owns 49% of the team but is now seeking to buy the rest of the team from the current owner, John Moores, who has been struggling badly since a nasty divorce (sound familiar?). He is also the minority owner who expected to have his purchase approved at this week’s owners’ meetings only to have the vote delayed because of “economic concerns” (and possibly because Jerry Reinsdorf just plain doesn’t like Moorad, allegedly).
It sounds like Moorad will eventually have his purchase approved but not before he gets run through the ringer for a few months, much like Jim Crane’s recent purchase of the Houston Astros was also delayed due to “economic concerns” before he finally got approval. Part of Crane’s delay was because he was being strong-armed into moving the Astros to the AL, but there was also some very real concern over his finances and general character.
This stinks out loud for the Padres and their fans, even though Moorad has basically been running the team for awhile anyway. But with San Diego trying to break out of their seemingly never-ending rebuilding, it is a setback that they don’t need. Getting Moorad in full control of the team would not only get the franchise out of this state of flux they have been in since Moores’ divorce and subsequent agreement to gradually hand the team over to Moorad (a process that is culminating now, a few years ahead of schedule), but it would hopefully position the Friars to make a more concerted effort to become competitive on an annual basis rather than trying to survive on a shoestring budget. A significant bump in payroll provided by Moorad could quickly boost San Diego into the forefront of the NL West as the Pads boast a fair amount of young talent at the big league level as well as one of the top farm systems. An addition $30 million in payroll would allow them to fill in the holes with quality veterans and contend in a division that has been fairly wide open the last several years. Alas, that will have to wait until the accountants can hash out their problems.
For fans of all other teams though, this is actually a good thing. Maybe not good for them right this very moment, but probably good for each team some time in the next ten to fifteen years.
This isn’t an era of professional sports where every team is owned by the same family for decade after decade. Sure, there are some exceptions like the Steinbrenners, but for most teams, they will be change owners at some point in the next fifteen years. As such, we should all be thankful that Major League Baseball owners finally are deciding to get serious about vetting new owners rather than risking more marquee franchises like the Dodgers being sullied by the likes of irresponsible debt-ridden owners who just want the team as some sort of plaything, status symbol or, even worse, grand opportunity for embezzlement.
You have to admit, it is better than the old reasons Bud Selig and his cronies would put the kibosh on potential franchise purchases. Certainly we haven’t all forgotten about the rumor of Selig killing any chance of Mark Cuban buying the Chicago Cubs because he was worried that Cuban had too much money, have we? And, let’s be honest, we common folk can at least get a cheap thrill out of watching billionaires bitch and moan about having to jump through some hoops before they can spend part of their vast fortunes on a baseball club.
So, yes, the Padres and their fans have to deal with this probably unnecessary holding pattern for a few more months. But it is a small price to pay so that the next time the Friars are sold, and there will be a next time, that a better process will be in place to make sure that the owner is actually qualified to purchase the team and operate responsibly and successfully.