Mark Cuban's energy impresses players
PHOENIX -- If the opinions of players and fans made a difference, Mark Cuban would be more than welcome as the owner of a Major League Baseball franchise, according to an informal survey taken Tuesday by ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com at Chase Field before the start of the All-Star Game.
Cuban, the eccentric owner of the NBA-champion Dallas Mavericks, has failed twice in trying to become an MLB owner. (Commissioner Bud Selig and a majority of the present owners rejected tries by Cuban to buy the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers.) With the legal and financial problems surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets, some say this could be the best time for Cuban to own a baseball team.
Players' and fans' opinions differ on the perception that baseball authorities have of the Internet mogul.
"It would be fine; I think he would be more than welcome to baseball," said Andre Ethier, who joined Dodgers teammates Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw on the National League team, which won 5-1. "The man has a positive energy."
Carlos Beltran, a Mets outfielder and six-time All Star, said, "It would be positive for baseball. He has a lot of passion. He's a guy that has shown that he is willing to do everything he can to win."
Cuban, 53, is recognized for being passionate in his support for the Mavs, a team in which he has invested more than $900 million since acquiring it in 2000, an investment that paid off when Dallas fulfilled its championship dreams this past June.
"I see him as someone that is always motivating his team, which is good for everybody. I believe it would be great if they allow him to buy a team," said Jose Reyes, Mets shortstop.
In May, Mets majority owner Fred Wilpon, strongly criticized Reyes and Beltran in a story published in The New Yorker magazine.
"He is 65-70 percent of what he was," Wilpon said of Beltran in the article. "He thinks he will get the money Carl Crawford got. He won't."
The Wilpon family faces a lawsuit that accuses it of benefiting from former financier Bernard Madoff's fraud scheme. Frank McCourt, on the other hand, faces the possibility of losing the Dodgers after a complicated divorce from his former business partner and wife, Jamie McCourt, revealed that the couple had taken more than $100 million in loans from club-related businesses.
MLB appointed a monitor to oversee the Dodgers' operations and rejected a TV deal the McCourts had in place with Fox. Afterward, the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court.
Dodgers fans Montse Osorio, Julio Quintanilla, Fabian Larrea and Pedro Sánchez drove the nearly 400 miles from Los Angeles to Phoenix to support the Dodgers players in the All-Star Game. The four not only agreed they would love Cuban as the owner at Chavez Ravine but also were united in their aversion to McCourt.
"Being a Lakers fan, I've always seen Cuban as a rival, but it would be great to have someone like him as the owner of our beloved Dodgers," said Osorio, 32.
Said Quintanilla: "It would be great. As a matter of fact, anyone except McCourt would be fine." Added Sánchez, "McCourt doesn't care about fans; he only wants to get money out of the team for his personal expenses."
"I believe that with someone like Cuban, the franchise would get back the luster lost by the McCourt scandal in the last few months," Larrea said.
Neither Ethier nor Beltran wanted to make comparisons between Cuban and the present owners of the Dodgers or Mets. But they agreed on one point.
"Cuban would bring sparkle and energy to baseball," Beltran said.
"He would be a positive influence," Ethier said.