A SB Nation sister site had an interesting question lately, so I thought I'd open it up to see what you guys think about it:
Or to be more specific:
But what if the Nets fans had to choose? They could either have the top pick in the draft, or an insanely wealthy owner, willing to spend whatever it takes to win, but not both. What's the choice there? It's not as easy as you think, and when you extend it to other sports, things get even more nuanced.
Of course, that question varies by league, so we're just going to narrow it down to Major League Baseball. If we're talking about basketball, I'd rather have Kobe Bryant or LeBron James than a great owner. If we're talking football, I think you'd probably rather have the franchise quarterback like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. (Lions fans may point out having a terrible owner is a whole different problem ...) But with the lifting of the salary cap, the question is a lot more open-ended than maybe it used to be. If we're talking about hockey, again I probably take the player under today's rules. Of course, having an owner who can put the right management team in place in any of those sports is important.
But in the MLB, I think you take the great owner any day of the week.
Probably the most important reason is there's no salary cap in baseball. If your owner has the money and wants to invest $100-million plus year-in-and-year-out, you have a great starting point for competing for division titles. If your owner doesn't give a horse's rear end about the team, you have a big problem. And if your owner is Jeffrey Loria, you're toast.
As Tigers fans, we've seen both sides under the same owner. For nearly the first decade of Mike Ilitch's ownership of the team, it descended into a total wasteland. He chose a poor general manager who let the organization fall apart while the owner invested very little.
Then after suffering the embarrassment of 2003, Ilitch began investing more and more money into the organization. He personally had a hand in bringing some of the top free agents to the team who helped lead to the 2006 American League title. And Detroit has won 85 or more games three of the past four seasons, finishing in second place in each. While you never like to finish in second, the Tigers have always appeared competitive. (The 2008 failure appeared competitive, it just failed to live up to that billing).
Of course, having too heavy a hand could interfere with the plans of your general manager, and it's up in the air whether Ilitch shoots himself in the foot by being a bit more hand's on than he should be.
But one thing is clear: Having a star player is not enough in baseball. No single player can make that big a difference for a franchise where the owner does not properly support the goal of winning.
So to me, the owner is important. What do you think?
In other news:
- Scott Sizemore was the player to write about Thursday. MLB.com's Jason Beck blogged about keeping him healthy and getting him enough work. The Detroit News' Lynn Henning wrote about finally seeing him play. Henning's summation: he looks like a big league second baseman and can make all the plays expected of him.
- You've probably read this already, but just in case: Inge to play Saturday
- Beck's Blog: Leyland's message to pitchers: Throw strikes!!
This manager judges people on how they get people out when they throw strikes," Leyland said Thursday morning. "Because at the Major League level, you don't get people out with balls unless you've got a nasty split or you have Verlander-type stuff once in a while where they might swing at a 98 mph fastball up high. They don't chase guys that throw 88-91 very often, unless they've got a nasty split finger. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking with it.
MLive's Steve Kornacki: Tigers catcher Alex Avila has classic swing, but will he stick this spring?
Kornacki writes about why Avila has been such an effective batter so far in his professional career.
- Give a nice welcome back to the Tigers blogosphere to Paul Sporer. He has taken over Eye of the Tigers. Paul actually wrote about fantasy baseball way back in 2006, but he had quite a few Tigers-centric posts as well. It's good to see him back.
- DetNews' Tony Paul writes the Twins are still contenders despite Joe Nathan's injury
- MLB.com columnist Hal Bodley: Leyland isn't worrying about how last year ended
- BigJP wrote more about Jacob Turner's debut at Motor City Bengals