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Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Updated: July 24, 3:26 PM ET
Greediest owners in sports

From the Page 2 mailbag

Earlier this week, Page 2 listed the 10 greediest owners in sports, and we asked you to send us your choices.

We received more than 1,500 e-mails, and here is how Page 2 readers ranked sports' owners who act the most miserly. Be sure to vote in the poll at right to crown the greediest of them all.

1. George Steinbrenner, New York Yankees (189 letters)
George Steinbrenner
George Steinbrenner is certainly greedy for titles.
George Steinbrenner is the reigning king, not because he is tight with money, but because he buys every All-Star free agent on the market.

Once a big name is up for grabs, the Yankees come calling, then the asking price doubles or triples, and of course, the Yankees are the only team that can afford the new tag. Many argue that the Yankees' perennial success is due to their home-grown players and a talent pool that is head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Please!

Roger Clemens, Orlando Hernandez, Mike Mussina, Mike Stanton, Jeff Weaver, David Wells, Jason Giambi, Robin Ventura, Raul Mondesi, Rondell White, David Cone, Kenny Rogers, Wade Boggs, Tino Martinez, Darryl Strawberry, David Justice, Jeff Nelson, Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch, Jim Leyritz, and John Vander Wal -- I don't think these players qualify as home grown.

I recall a scene in the movie "Independence Day" where Bill Pullman, playing the president, after being attacked by the alien creature says, "They're like locusts. They travel from planet to planet, their whole civilization. After they've consumed every natural resource they move on. And we're next." That's exactly what the Boss and his Yanks are doing! They travel from team to team, consume every ounce of talent and move on. And we're next!
Darin K. Arrasmith
West Richland, Wash.

Steinbrenner's spending habits are extravagant with his own club ... that spending (and subsequent winning) is made possible by his refusal to support league revenue sharing.

Yes, he's done a brilliant job resurrecting the Yankees, and re-establishing them as the pre-eminent sports franchise in the world, but he's winning the battles and losing the war if he winds up with no competition. The game will soon be destroyed or demeaned because others can't compete with his megamillions from YES, adidas, radio rights, etc.

Do the right thing, George. Make it a level playing field and help take this great game back.
Larry
Boise, Idaho

While trying to find Steinbrenner's name amongst Page 2's list of greedy sports owners, I noticed that your list is composed primarily of owners who leave their own hometown fans victimized. "The Boss" is of a different greed. He leaves everyone in his wake while he and the Yankee fan-nation continue their selfish desire to acquire more and more -- All-Stars, TV deals, championship banners, you name it.

Wearing four of the last six World Series rings and continuing to demand a world championship year after year, at any expense, puts King George atop any greed list. ... ahhh, I love being a Yankees fan, I wouldn't want any of those selfish owners in charge of my team.
R. Kauder
Clifton Springs, N.Y.

2. Art Modell, Baltimore Ravens (175 letters)
He was head of the NFL committee that received a super offer from Baltimore, addressed to the NFL. Instead of sharing it with the rest of the bunch, he kept the deal to himself. Hence, he screwed the most loyal fans in the football, the city of Cleveland, and the other NFL owners just for the mighty buck. He put the "est" in greedy!
James Dean
Tampa, Fla.

Here in Canton, Ohio, we almost want to see him get elected to the Hall of Fame, just to see what will happen. He could be the first person to get booed off the stage while giving his induction speech -- and he will deserve every bit of it.
Brian Blend
Canton, Ohio

The Steelers-Browns rivalry was one of the fiercest in NFL history. Here in Pittsburgh, we absolutely hate Cleveland.

How bad is Art Modell? When the (original) Cleveland Brownies played our Steelers in their last game of existence, I can remember seeing thousands of signs absoultely degrading old Art ... however, that game was played in Pittsburgh, and those weren't Browns fans holding those signs. The man didn't just kill his team and his city, he killed one of the best rivalries in sports. Thanks to him the Steelers-Browns feud is dead.
Christopher Zeppenfeld
Pittsburgh

3. Carl Pohlad, Minnesota Twins (148 letters)
Carl Pohlad
Carl Pohlad's greed dates back to the Depression.
All you need to know is he got his start in the banking business, foreclosing farmhouses during the Great Depression.
Paul Carter
New Hope, Minn.

Pohlad takes the cake. Here's a man who claims poverty and then turns around and buys out a national banking chain for hundreds of millions of dollars. Here's a guy doing everything he can to singlehandedly remove baseball from Minnesota so he can walk with a nice $150 million, contraction profit check from Major League Baseball.
Brian Schulz
Maple Grove, Minn.

He has tons of money and probably less than five years of life left. The man could help build a stadium and be the hero of Minnesota sports history, but he chooses to keep his money to his decrepit self. What a waste!
Haas
Northfield, Minn.

4. Jeremy Jacobs, Boston Bruins (143 letters)
Jeremy Jacobs hands down. First, he bleeds the fans by putting out a substandard product in favor of greed. But, he also owns part of the building they play in, all the concessions at the "Fleece" center, broadcasts most of the games on the cable station he partially owns, and forced one the classiest players ever to lace them up, to ask for a trade to have a shot at a ring.

To add insult to injury, he spends most of the season at his home offices in Buffalo ... a division rival!!

His apathy not only toward the fans who make him richer, but especially to his players, shows his selfishness at the expense of an upper-echelon team. All this, yet he was able to make contributions to members of both political parties when he was acquiring the concession contracts for various national parks.

It won't be soon enough when he no longer darkens Boston's door and we get an owner more dedicated to winning than ripping us off.
Bob Griffith
Boston

There is this wicked dive bar called "The Penalty Box" across the street from the Fleet Center (Jacobs' boring facility). If he would only go sit there for a few beers (which he probably wouldn't pay for), and listen to what the real people of Boston think of him, he might be persuaded to put a winner on the ice.

If those sticks and stones don't work, maybe the pictures on the walls of the old Boston hockey scene will spark his interest in rekindling a winner ... if neither of these two ideas help -- he isn't human.
Mike Barry
North Attleboro, Mass

5. Bill Wirtz, Chicago Blackhawks (99 letters)
William Wirtz
Never thought we'd see William Wirtz linked with Anna Kournikova.
Bill Wirtz is to "greedy" as Anna Kournikova is to "hot."
Cole Brown
South Bend, Ind.

I'm biased, but "Dollar" Bill Wirtz is still the greediest owner. The Tony Amonte situation is the latest example.

Granted, Wirtz built his own stadium without fleecing taxpayers, but he also has control of all the concessions and parking. Yet no money seems to go back into the product fans are there for.

With the Bulls being in decline, Chicago was ripe for the 'Hawks to become more dominant in the sports landscape. Instead nothing has been done to put a better product on the ice, not to mention more exposure (i.e. home telecasts).

The fact that for every home game against Detroit more Red Wing fans are in attendance than 'Hawk fans shows how disinfranchised fans have become.
David Wisniewski
Chicago

It can only be Bill Wirtz. I grew up in Chicago, yet never became a hockey fan until I was old enough to go to the bars and watch the games (broadcast through the "other" team's network, of course).

Why? Because the Blackhawks, one of the Original Six and one of the most storied sports franchises ever, did not have a local television deal (and still don't). Being young and untraveled, I assumed that hockey was not very popular and wasn't televised anywhere south of Canada.

Was I naive? Probably. Is Wirtz a jerk for preventing one of the best sports cities in the world from seeing their team? Definitely.

It's because of him that I have no memories nor loyalty to the Blackhawks. I'm still loyal to the Bears and the Cubs, but when it comes to my now-favorite sport, I live and die with the Tampa Bay Lightning ... Wirtz and his Blackhawks can bite me.
Chris W.
Holiday, Fla.

6. Bud Selig, Milwaukee Brewers (94 letters)
Bud Selig
We've got to stop meeting like this, Bud.
The Brewers are worse than their Class A affiliate! They have no general managing skills, half are ex-Cubs, Bud and family own them but abandoned them ...

The Expos, are the biggest joke in baseball. Rather than spending his own millions on making a team out of the ol' brew-crew, Selig is spending baseball's millions to turn the Expos into the neo-Marlins (notice the retro-styled Cliff Floyd deals). Here's a radical idea, move the Brewers to Montreal, maybe even contract them (no loss there) and move the Expos into Milwaukee. No one goes to Brewers games anyway, so they'll be well suited in Olympic Stadium. The suddenly not sucking Expos would have a new park and a larger fan base (people who go to baseball games, not people who live in the city) in Milwaukee, so baseball would make millions on the Expos.
Adam Faraca
Brookfield, Wis.

Because even with all his extra cash he still can't buy himself a decent hairpiece.
Dave Souza
Medford, Mass.

Bud Selig stars in: "The Grinch who Stole Baseball."
Tammy
Willmington, Del.

7. The Chicago Tribune Co., Chicago Cubs (77 letters)
The Tribune Company -- a k a The Irish Mafia -- owns numerous money-making media outlets and the ultimate "Yuppie Haven," Wrigley Field.

The Cubs' 30,000-plus average attendance, coupled with the second best TV revenue in baseball, exorbitant ticket, food and beverage prices aren't enough to satisfy the "suits" at the Tribune Tower who cry "poor," meddle in everyday baseball operations, alienate their absurdly loyal fans and field the cheapest team possible every year.

Where have you gone, Greg Maddux?
Terry McArdle
Chicago

8. Peter Angelos, Baltimore Orioles (58 letters)
How can he possibly claim that D.C. is part of the Orioles' MLB market when he applied for an NFL expansion team in Baltimore, despite the Redskins franchise 40 miles to the south? If he weren't offering a substandard product, he wouldn't have anything to worry about.

Angelos' greed isn't for money -- he's got plenty of that. Instead, he overrules his baseball staff. Look at the free agents who've chosen not to re-sign with the O's since he acquired the team: Mike Mussina, Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Charles Johnson, Arthur Rhodes ... not to mention play-by-play man Jon Miller and world-class manager Davey Johnson.

He has no partners in his law firm, and obviously feels that he needs no help running a baseball team.
Mark Hausner
Baltimore

This guy makes Art Modell and Daniel Snyder look like altar boys!

He's given us a new park for the city's beloved Birds (Oriole Park at Camden Yards), but has refused to give money well earned to Robbie Alomar, Rafael Palmeiro and Brady Anderson. ... But he did give Bobby Bonilla tons to sit on his fat patootie and add in no production! Jeez ... just because you made money in the asbestos biz doesn't mean you can't burn your public!
Lynna G.
Alexandria, Va.

9. Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls (46 letters)
Jerry Reinsdorf
Jerry Reinsdorf hasn't endeared himself to Chicago fans.
He ruined one of the greatest basketball teams ever, and ran Michael Jordan out of Chicago -- twice. He could have given Jordan the same deal the Wizards did, and kept him here in Chicago, but his greediness stopped him.

Additionally, he has owned the Chicago White Sox for more than 15 years and has never won anything with them. Many people partially blame his greediness for the 1994 strike that ruined the World Series with his team in first place, and perhaps the best team in baseball that year.
Mike C.
Chicago

Reinsdorf only gets nominated for the Bulls? What about the magic he's done with the White Sox? He's managed to make two good teams disappear.

Wirtz is definitely a close second, if not an outright tie. And the Tribune Co.?

Well, at least the McCaskey family makes an effort to put a winning team on the field. And here in Chicago, we only care about the Bears anyway. The rest is just filler between seasons.
Greg
Naperville, Ill.

10. Al Davis, Oakland Raiders (39 letters)
Al Davis, only made honorable mention? Blasphemy! He's the worst.

He's moved twice, threatened to move a dozen other times and, amidst everything, he's locked up in ongoing lawsuits against Los Angeles and Oakland-Alameda counties, the Oakland Coliseum Arena Board, the City of Oakland and the NFL which cost those entities hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And the idiot Raider Nation fans have blind allegiance to Big Al's cast of usual suspects in the silver and black. Little do these gang-banging (pun intended given Darrell Russell's "s"excapades) thugs, I mean fans, realize how Al plays with their tax dollars and their hearts cause he has zero allegiance to them and won't bat an eyelash when he decides to increase ticket prices or move the team yet again.

Al's greed is all about his ego and his wallet.
Charlie
San Francisco

Without a doubt, Al Davis takes the cake. Time and again, he only looks out for the best interests of his team, and forgets about the welfare of the rest of the NFL. While a Jerry Reinsdorf or George Steinbrenner may be greedy, I can't imagine either of them suing their respective leagues in a feeble attempt to put more money in their pockets.
Mark Lachin
Nashville, Tenn.

Also receiving votes
  • Bill Bidwill (Arizona Cardinals)
  • George Shinn and Ray Woolridge (New Orleans, nee Charlotte, Hornets)
  • Bud Adams (Tennessee Titans/formerly Houston Oilers)
  • Michael Brown (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • John Rigas (former owner of the Buffalo Sabres)
  • Dan Snyder (Washington Redskins)