Earlier this week, news broke that Mark Cuban would be “very interested” in purchasing the Los Angeles Dodgers. But even if Cuban’s dollars are welcome in baseball, they may not be welcome in Los Angeles.
Cuban failed in his attempts to purchase both the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers. And many people feel that Bud Selig steered those sales away from the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, because he is not Selig’s type of owner.
That is, Cuban is not the type of owner that will exhibit fiscal conservatism at a time when Major League Baseball is bordering on a crisis with the divide between the haves and the have nots. At the start of the 2011 season, the New York Yankees’ $202.7 million payroll is nearly 500 per cent larger than that of the Kansas City Royals ($36.1 million).
But does that mean Cuban has been blackballed? Probably not.
Baseball needs more owners that are financially secure and won’t incur huge debts. Currently, nine of baseball’s 30 teams are reportedly in violation of baseball’s own rules concerning levels of debt allowed.
But if Cuban takes over a big-market club like the Dodgers, there are fears that he would be George Steinbrenner reincarnated. And that could artificially raise player salaries across the board, starting with the top players.
Instead, Selig is much more likely to approve Cuban if he is buying a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates. Back in 2005, the Cuban inquired about the Pirates, but was told they were not for sale (Cuban grew up near Pittsburgh). But there has been some speculation that could change.
With the Pirates, Cuban could infuse that franchise with much needed money. But the market may be limited enough that the team may not be able to hand out blank checks in free agency.
In the end, maybe both sides are right. Cuban would be good for baseball, but only in the right situation. And Los Angeles is probably not it.
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