Sometimes it’s tempting to look back at former Commissioner Fay Vincent and think about what things would be like if there still were a fully independent Commissioner as opposed to one who came up through ownership like Selig did and one who truly sees the best interests of the game as his highest duty as opposed to the best business interests of the owners.*
But then Vincent — who is always available for an interview, it seems — says stuff like this when asked about what he’d think of Mark Cuban as a baseball owner:
“I don’t think Mr. Cuban’s been an easy partner or owner for David Stern, and that would put me on my guard if he were to come to baseball … The rules are the rules. I think this enormous criticism — the screaming about officials, the kinds of things that got him fined by David — those are not actions of a sensible, responsible owner. I mean winning is not everything, and I’m afraid for some of these owners they get so carried away with winning they believe that’s the objective.”
Whatever, Fay. While troubling on some level, Cuban’s antics are basically a p.r. problem, not a threat to the game. And I would suggest you ask Mavericks fans — or Dodgers fans or fans of other poorly run teams — what, exactly, is more important to them than winning? And then ask yourself where the game would be if every owner had as his first loyalty the kind of harmony you’d like to see rather than putting together teams that win championship hardware.
*Though, to be fair, that approach is not necessarily bad even if it sounds like it is. There’s nothing written in stone that says the Commissioner has to be a statesman. He merely has to keep the game healthy, and Selig has done that, mostly because the best interests of owners have a lot of overlap with the best interests of the game. But now we’re getting into another conversation.