THE COUCH SLOUCH

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

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

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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Jose Abreu looks lost at the plate. Composite Getty Image.

It’s a long baseball season, sure the Astros have started 4-8, and there are plenty of fingers to point around. But there’s no need to push the panic button.

Not yet.

Last year, the Astros didn’t start much better – they were 5-7 after a dozen games. It just seemed different, though. Nobody was wringing hands over the slow start. After all, the Astros were the defending World Series champions, coming off a 106-win season and figured to make mincemeat of the American League West again. Business as usual.

This year is different. The Astros are losing games in very un-Astros-like fashion. While the starting pitching has been surprisingly fine, at least the starters healthy enough to take the field, the bullpen has been a mess. The back end relievers, supposedly the strongest in all of baseball, have been disappointing. Bryan Abreu’s earned run average is 5.79. Ryan Pressly’s ERA is a sky-high 11.57 and closer Josh Hader, the best shutdown in the bigs, is at 6.00. The Astros are losing games late.

The Astros starting rotation is comprised mostly of seat-fillers. The Astros are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room for Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers to be declared fit for battle. McCullers’ contribution to the team in recent years has primarily been confined to H-E-B commercials.

Impatient fans and copy-hungry media need a target to blame for the Astros’ slow start and they’ve zero’d in on first baseman Jose Abreu.

For good reason. Abreu, 37, a former American League MVP, is being paid 19.5 million this year and next. He is having a miserable time at the plate. Originally slated for No. 5 in the batting order, now dropped to No. 7 and sinking in the west, Abreu is hitting a paltry .088. But that number actually is deceptively positive. He has three hits (all singles) in 34 at bats, with 12 strikeouts, no home runs and no RBI. Frankly one of Abreu's singles was a pity hit from a friendly scorekeeper who could have given Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. an error on Abreu’s weak grounder Tuesday night.

We can go all-analytics and brain-busting stats to explain Abreu’s troubles at the plate. But let’s use simple baseball language: Abreu is horrible. He’s done. Maybe it’s time for the Astros to cut bait. He is untradeable.

Abreu had a disastrous 2023 season, batting .237, the lowest average of his 11-year career. But after 12 games last year, he was hitting .271, not bad at all. Or as Larry David would say, pret-tay, pret-tay, pre-tay good.

This year he’s fallen off the end of the Earth. Fans groan as he swings meekly at breaking balls outside the zone. Or he fails to catch up to 95 mph-plus. Or he can’t connect on low inside pitches. Look, when you’re batting .088, it’s all bad.

Last year, the Astros actually had two, as Little Leaguers put it, automatic outs in the lineup. Abreu hit .237 and catcher Martin Maldonado blasted .191.

This year, it’s a tight battle between who’s the worst of the worst. Maldy is hitting .091 with two hits in 22 at bats and no RBI for Abreu’s old team, the Chicago White Sox. Abreu is hitting .088 for Maldonado’s old team, the Astros. This could go down to the last week of the season.

If Abreu is still with the Astros at season’s end. The Astros are no longer the high exalted dominant force in the American League West. They can’t afford an .088 hitter in the lineup. They can’t play eight against nine.

It didn’t help when manager Joe Espada recently said, “I got a ton of confidence in Abreu. I'm not going to talk about strategy. José Abreu has been a really good hitter for a very long time, and I have 100 percent confidence in José that, at some point, he's going to start hitting.”

How long is at some point? Didn’t Astros fans go through this last year with manager Dusty Baker refusing to sit Maldonado despite Maldy killing rallies in a tight pennant race?

The Astros don’t have a strong support system, especially backing Abreu at first base. But there are options. Mauricio Dubon is a jack of all trades. He could play first. Despite the funny line in Moneyball, first base statistically is the easiest position to play in baseball. Backup catcher Victor Caratini can fill the gap until the Astros sign a free agent first baseman.

Or the Astros could do something that would light a fire under fans: call up rookie Joey Loperfido, who’s belted five homers and driven in 13 RBI in 10 games for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys.

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