THE COUCH SLOUCH

Who is the worst owner in professional sports? A tale of the tape

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Just before the turn of the century, two monsters of a new millennium were unleashed on the unsuspecting sporting communities of New York and Washington. Twenty years later, two franchises – the NBA Knicks and the NFL R*dsk*ns – have fallen from proud to pathetic, laying in waste in a rubble-filled puddle of dysfunction and defeat.

Today we bring you an overdue comparison of the presumptive worst owners in professional sports, the Knicks' James Dolan and the R*dsk*ns' Daniel Snyder:

Phoenix Suns v New York Knicks/James Dolan

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How They Got There. To his credit, the 55-year-old Snyder, a college dropout, is a self-made billionaire (perhaps forever tainting the terms "self-made" and "billionaire"), parlaying his Snyder Communications marketing company into buying the Redskins in 1999 for $800 million. Dolan, 64, climbed the ranks the old-fashioned way – he is the son of Cablevision founder Charles Dolan, and his dad handed him control of the Knicks in 1999.

Team Records. Under Dolan, the Knicks have the worst record in the NBA in the 21st century, winning exactly one playoff series (2013) and missing the postseason the past six years. Under Snyder, the R*dsk*ns are 142-190-1, with a grand total of two playoff victories (1999, 2005 seasons).

Coaches. Dolan has had 13 head coaches in 20 seasons, including Herb Williams twice; he fired David Fizdale this month. Snyder has only had nine coaches in 20 seasons; he fired Jay Gruden in October, asking him to report to the R*dsk*ns facility at 5 a.m. to be told of his dismissal. (At least he beat traffic.)

Front Office Boo-Boos. Dolan hired Isiah Thomas as team president and subsequently hired him as head coach. Snyder first had Vinny Cerrato running the team, followed by Bruce Allen. If Thomas, Cerrato and Allen ran Bed Bath & Beyond, there would be no bath or beyond.

Business Hiccups. Dolan reportedly lost $250 million for Cablevision when he bought the failing Wiz electronics chain, which ended up in liquidation. Snyder seized control of Six Flags, taking it into bankruptcy four years later. Apparently, integrated circuitry and theme parks ain't in these guys' wheelhouse.

Customer Relations: After a fan yelled at Dolan to "sell the team" following a home loss in March, Dolan banned him from Madison Square Garden for life; he has attempted to bar individuals several times from Knicks games. Snyder once banned fan signs from FedEx Field (largely to eliminate embarrassing, critical messages), once disallowed pedestrian traffic into FedEx Field (largely to prevent fans from parking at a nearby mall to avoid stadium parking fees) and sued season-ticket holders who back out of long-term contracts (largely to extract more money from the serfs).

Media Relations. Both virtually never grant interviews. As part of a long-running feud, Dolan barred the New York Daily News from a post-draft press conference in June, incurring a $50,000 NBA fine. Snyder once sued the Washington City Paper and writer Dave McKenna for the greatest Snyder article ever penned, "The Cranky R*dsk*ns Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder," before dropping the action in 2011.

Hobbies. Dolan is the frontman and guitarist for the blues-inspired rock band JD & The Straight Shot. Snyder is the owner of a $180 million superyacht that includes an IMAX theater, a basketball court and a helipad; it can accommodate several hundred passengers, coincidentally about the same number of people attending R*dsk*ns home games this season.

Temperament. They both have a bad temperament.

Conclusion: Who Is Worse? With cooperation from the Johns Hopkins Advanced Physics Laboratory and ESPN Stats & Info, we created a complex analytical model to deconstruct the two owners. And the results? Remarkably, the numbers indicate that, if Dolan and Snyder swapped franchises over the last two decades, the Knicks and the R*dsk*ns would still have the exact same records over that span.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Vanna White is currently pinch-hitting for the injured Pat Sajak. If you went on the D.L., who would peck away on the old Smith Corona? (Jack Drury; Cumberland, Md.)

A. Our one-month contingency calls for Toni to handle two columns, Shirley to handle one and Daisy – our 90-pound pit mix with a 25-word vocabulary – to handle the other.

Q. Does the Bureau of Engraving and Printing literally print money? (Dan Campos; Miami Beach, Fla.)

A. No. Scott Boras does.

Q. How can you explain the execrable Lane Kiffin getting his fifth head-coaching job? (Howard Freed; Mequon, Wis.)

A. I assume he interviews well.

Q. A la Le'Veon Bell, have you ever called in sick for work and then went bowling? (Tim Jones; Philadelphia)

A. No, but I opted to bowl on the second night of my second honeymoon, effectively ending the honeymoon.

Q. Are there any videos in the Patriots' "Do Your Job" series that AREN'T about cheating? (Mark Cohen; Gibsonia, Pa.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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Tucker looks like the real deal. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Kyle Tucker finally had his breakout season in 2020. The 23-year-old flashed potential to be a legitimate five-tool threat. He slashed .268/.325/.512, swiped eight bags, and played above average defense. Is Tucker's performance sustainable? Not only that, but is there room for growth?

Hard Hit % - 44.5%

Barrel % - 9.1%

K % - 20.2%

BB % - 7.9%
Chase % - 26.2%

The first thing to realize with Kyle Tucker is the small sample size at the MLB level. Despite appearing in three separate seasons, he's played in a total of 108 games, which is obviously quite a bit shy of even one full season. He also has an extremely unique swing that you wouldn't teach to anybody, but it "works" for him. This makes him a tough hitter to judge, as it's uncomfortable judging mechanics that work for him, and it's uncomfortable judging numbers that haven't had time to develop trends.

Hard Hit, Barrel, and Chase numbers are unavailable for the minors, but walk and strikeouts percentages are. This creates the ability to at least look at one trend.

Tucker broke onto the scene in 2018 with a monstrous season for AAA Fresno, the Astros affiliate at the time. In 2018, Tucker slashed .332/.400/.590 with 24 homers and 20 steals. He had an 18.1% K% and a 10.3% BB% that season. In 2019, Tucker struck out a little bit more (21.6%) but also walked a little bit more (11.2%). Tucker's 20.2% K% in 2020 is more in line with his minor league K%, indicating he's adjusted to major league pitching.

Tucker essentially put the pieces of contact ability and quality of contact from his previous MLB stints together in 2020. In 2018, Tucker didn't strike out very much (18.1% K%), but his 3.9% Barrel % didn't strike fear in any opponent.

In 2019, Tucker had a 12.8% Barrel %, and his 92 MPH average exit velocity is the best of his three seasons in MLB, but he struck out 27.8% of the time and walked just 5.6% of the time.

In 2020, there's a marriage between the two. His K% and BB% aren't as good as his 2018 marks, but they're better than his 2019 marks. His exit velocity and Barrel % aren't as good as his 2019 marks, but they're better than his 2018 marks. Tucker became a hitter that was able to do more damage without sacrificing consistency.

Tucker had a xBA of .267, which is right in line with his .268 average. His .459 xSLG lags behind his .512 actual SLG, but it isn't a catastrophic drop. The version of Tucker Astros fans saw is essentially who he is, but how does he improve?

What really unlocked Tucker in 2020 was a change in his setup.

Image via: GraysonSkweres/Twitter/Screenshot

Here he is on August 2nd against the Angels. As you can see, he's standing pretty straight up, and he has a "neutral" stance. Following the game on Aug. 2, Tucker was batting .200/.250/.300 with no homers.

Image via: GraysonSkweres/Twitter/Screenshot

Here's Tucker on August 6th, just a few days later. He's started to close off his stance just a bit, but he's still pretty neutral, and he has a little more forward body lean with his torso. Following the game on Aug. 6, he was batting .214/.267/.357 with a homer.

Image via: GraysonSkweres/Twitter/Screenshot

Now, here's Tucker on August 10th. His stance is considerably closed off, and he's maintaining the forward body lean he adopted on August 6th. Following the game on Aug. 10, Tucker was batting .190/.230/.328. It would be the last time any of those numbers would be that low the rest of the year. He maintained that stance for the rest of the season, and he finished the month of August hitting .272/.333/.588.

The swing change allowed him to be a factor on the outside pitch. Tucker would pull off on his front side, which made it tough for him to keep balls fair on the pull side. He'd often yank inside fastballs into the stands down the right field line. It also made him uncompetitive on outside strikes, as he'd either swing-and-miss, or roll them over into the shift.

After he made the change, Tucker started steering inside pitches fair, and he was able to do something with pitches on the outer third.

The next step is finding a way to continue to diversify his batted ball profile. Tucker's pull percentage in 2020 was 47%. That's a higher pull % than guys like Kyle Schwarber and Matt Olson. It was only 1% lower than Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo.

The one dimensional batted ball profile allows teams to shift Tucker aggressively. Teams shifted Tucker in 74% of his at-bats. His wOBA against the shift is .304. In AB's where teams didn't shift him, Tucker had a .455 wOBA. The shift hurts Tucker more than most as well, because he hits the ball on the ground 39% of the time. Gallo and Olson hit it on the ground 32% and 35% of the time respectively.

Lastly, Tucker's performance on breaking balls leaves a lot to be desired. He crushes fastballs, as he batted .303 with a .574 SLG against fastballs in 2020, with a .292 xBA and .528 xSLG. His .208 AVG and .396 SLG against breaking balls aren't very good, and his .209 xBA and .340 xSLG don't tell a prettier story. His 32% whiff % against breaking balls is nearly double his whiff % on fastballs.

If Tucker can learn to be more competitive against breaking balls and learn to use the whole field, then he'll be a really scary hitter. If he doesn't, teams will be able to gameplan for him, and he'll see streaky production similar to other one dimensional hitters like Matt Carpenter and the aforementioned Gallo and Olson.

While the bat may be streaky, Tucker brings it with the glove and on the bases. He had 5 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in the outfield in 2020, a 0.6 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), and he was plus-4 in Outs Above Average. His well above average speed and instincts give him the ability to be a rangy outfielder and dangerous baserunner.

Tucker had a breakout season in 2020, but there's still changes left to be made if he wants to be a breakout star and not a one hit wonder.

This is part four of an offseason series covering the 2020 Houston Astros. Be sure to check out parts 1-3 on SportsMap.

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