A Freethinker's Guide to The Facts
A delicious irony is unfolding in the mainstream sports media, and it pertains to Mark Cuban’s interest in acquiring the Chicago Cubs. Bear with me, as I also think it pertains to Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders.
Here’s the scoop: Marc Cuban, rebellious owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, recently filed an application to acquire the Chicago Cubs. The sports media are nearly unanimous: Cuban would be a good thing for Major League Baseball, but the league will never let it happen.
Baseball, we’re told, has become too insular and exclusive. It is known as “The Club,” filled with safe, corporate, tradition-obsessed owners and executives. Unlike the NFL, Major League Baseball resists, and fears, progressive thinking, and it would therefore never let a renegade like Cuban into its ranks. In fact, baseball’s reactionary mindset is exactly why the NFL has stolen MLB’s thunder as
I heard this argument not once, but many times, over the past week. I actually agree with it—but only up to the point that the same people making the argument constantly bash Al Davis for being the very thing they claim to embrace.
That is, they say they want more independent freethinkers in the ranks of MLB ownership while trying hard to destroy the ultimate independent freethinker of the NFL: Al Davis.
Now, I’m not a big Mark Cuban fan, and I don’t mean to draw too much of a comparison to Al Davis, but there are some distinct similarities: a forward-thinking rebel, largely beloved by his players and despised by his league’s commissioner.
Anyhow, here’s what the talking heads will say to cover their flip-flopping tracks: “No, it’s just that Al Davis has lost it. We love freethinkers like Mark Cuban, Jerry Jones and Dan 'Money for Nothing' Snyder. After all, Sports Illustrated just ranked both Jones and Snyder among the NFL’s top owners, and even ran a glowing spread on Jones last week. See, we love freethinkers, just not Al Davis, because he’s lost it.”
Let’s review who’s “lost it” in the new millennium:
Number of NFC Championship games Synder’s Redskins have played in since 2000: 0
Number of Super Bowl appearances for Snyder’s Redskins since 2000: 0
Number of NFC Championship games Jones’ Cowboys have played in since 2000: 0
Number of Super Bowl appearances for Jones’ Cowboys since 2000: 0
Number of AFC Championship games
Number of Super Bowl appearances for
Remember, Raiders Haters, emotions are not facts and numbers don't lie.
Now, I admit that Mr. Davis has blown some things over the past three seasons (don't tell me four, he was just coming off a Super Bowl year in 2003, returning with the same coach and players who got him there), particularly in matters of hiring coaches and relying on questionable characters at offensive skill positions and questionable talent on the offensive line. The result has been an unprecedented rough patch for the Oakland Raiders.
Well, let’s remember that Jerry Jones’ Cowboys were 5-11 for three straight seasons to start off this decade and haven’t done squat in the playoffs ever since. Meanwhile, Dan Snyder’s Redskins have had one season above .500 in this decade. Talk about rough patches.
Jones and Synder get a pass, however. But Al Davis? He’s not entitled to a rough patch in the notoriously competitive, parity-driven NFL.
So just remember: independent freethinkers are great for the ranks of sports ownership, unless you’re talking about the original and ultimate freethinker, the one with literally more Lombardi trophies than Dan Snyder has winning seasons, the one who unlike Jerry Jones actually has some postseason achievements in the new millennium, and who unlike Mark Cuban comports himself with dignity and maturity.