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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Cristian Javier has proven he's a quality starting pitcher. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2022 regular season is nearing its end and while for the Houston Astros the true test will begin in the postseason, now is a good time to look ahead at what the team’s starting rotation could look like in 2023.

The big question will be whether long-time ace Justin Verlander returns to the team. Heading into 2022, there was doubt whether he would even be with the Astros coming off Tommy John surgery. Verlander re-signed with Houston on a two-year deal with a player option for 2023.

His production in 2022 has been nothing short of sensational. Verlander has the most wins for the Astros with a week left in the season. He has a 1.82 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 5.2 wins above replacement. More importantly for both Verlander and the Astros, is that he has played in 26 games and counting this season.

Whether Verlander remains with the Astros will likely depend on whether Houston is willing to spend. It is highly likely Verlander opts out of his player option following the strong 2022 campaign he has put together and looks for a bigger payday. Houston has shown it is not afraid to let key players walk in the offseason, so let’s take a look at a potential rotation with and without Verlander.

If the 39-year-old, who will be 40 by the time the 2023 regular season starts, stays with the Astros, he will undoubtedly be either the No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher in the rotation along with Framber Valdez, who is right behind Verlander in wins this season at 16. If Verlander leaves, Valdez should be the new Astros ace at No. 1.

Behind those two should be pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., who in seven games in 2022 has a 2.38 ERA and has cooled the concerns about his right flexor tendon strain being a long-term concern. He suffered the injury last postseason.

After those three, things begin to get interesting. Let’s say Houston opts to stay with a six-man rotation. The fourth starter could be Luis Garcia, who has a 3.90 ERA in 2022. The 25-year-old has shown he is more than a capable starter for the Astros.

The big question is if Hunter Brown can lock himself a spot in the rotation. Numbers wise, he makes a solid case to be more than Houston’s fifth starter as he has garnered 1.13 ERA through four appearances and two starts.

Brown’s starts have been against the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers, so there is a bit of a caveat there, but the upside undoubtedly should put him in the conversation for a starting role in 2023.

If Verlander leaves Houston, it should be more of a guarantee that a spot in the rotation as a starter for Brown is locked. Another factor in whether Brown is a starter could be if the Astros keep Dusty Baker as manager. Baker has shown at times he is willing to side with veterans over younger talent.

Other factors in Brown’s role will also be Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier. Urquidy has a 3.88 ERA in 28 games, all of which have been starts. Javier has a 2.65 ERA in 29 appearances, 24 of which have been starts.

Javier’s role for the Astros the last couple of years has involved starting and coming out of the bullpen, but this season he has shown that he is a capable starter. Based on this season’s play, Javier should have the edge for a starting spot, which leaves the question, what should the Astros do with Urquidy?

If Verlander walks, and Houston opts to keep a six-man rotation, then he just slides in and becomes starter No. 6. If Verlander stays, then is he willing to accept a role out of the bullpen, or do the Astros continue to use Brown out of the bullpen? Over the course of the season, both Brown and Urquidy will undoubtedly have chances to start throughout 2023.

Because of the long grind of an MLB schedule, the Astros should not trade whoever doesn’t get a starting role if Verlander stays, but how likely is it that it is even a problem for Houston? Regardless of who leaves or stays, the Astros should also continue with a six-man rotation because over the course of 162 games, it is what is best for your starters.

If the Astros bring back general manager James Click, based on how the Astros have seen players like George Springer and Carlos Correa walk in the past under his leadership, it is likely Verlander leaves Houston, but at the same time, many didn’t believe he was going to be back at all for 2022.

One thing is for sure, the Astros have a great problem to have. So many starting pitcher candidates, many of whom can be under team control for several years. So even if Verlander walks, an unforeseen injury happens, or a player ends up being disgruntled, Houston has more than enough flexibility to remain among the American Leagues’s best.

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