January 31, 2011 1 Comment
We’re less than two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting and the only thing we seem to all be reading about is the possibility of the Mets taking on a new minority owner.
I counted 147 posts on my twitter account yesterday about the Mets, and 101 were on the ownership topic.
As some of you know, I was a 20% minority owner in a company. I also was the President, until my “partners” wanted to expand on the company in the troublesome 1980’s and I voted against it due to our already large debt owed to the banks. They met without me (their right), voted me out as President, and told me to take a hike while still retaining a personal guarantee against the debt. A year later, they sold the company for seven figures less than we owed and I got stuck with my portion of the bill. Trust me, it ain’t that special.
Is ownership that important to you, the fan?
Ask yourself a few questions:
1. How many names do you know that own either a team in the MLB, NBA, NFL, or NHL?
2. How many of them meddle in the day-to-day operation of their teams?
3. And, regarding those that meddle, how many times have they won a championship in their respective league?
Companies run best when ownership hires an excellent leader, and then let’s that person build the company with excellent divisional managers, who then… you get the picture.
The best example I worked for in this category was The Hearst Corporation. William Randolph Hearst actually set up a Board of Directors that had no family members. Each division head reported to him and the board and that divisional head had 100% say in the day-to-day operation of that division. I worked one floor below the President of Hearst Broadcasting as the General Sales Manager of their Pittsburgh radio stations. I met the President on my interview, each year’s Christmas lunch, and a five-minute exit-interview a few years later. My boss, the General Manager of the radio stations, met with him daily. I met with the GM daily. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
Some businesses have family problems. The New York Giants were a perfect example of this. Fifty per cent of the team was owned by the late Wellington Mara, while the other half was owned by his nephew, Tim Mara. They hated each other. In fact, they didn’t even talk to each other. But, both were smart enough to hire a competent General Manager, George Young, and then let him do their job. Young hired Bill Parcells and the rest is history.
I really don’t care who owns the rest, I care who runs it.
The fans own the Green Bay Packers, but they don’t pick the players. A Japanese company owns the Seattle Mariners, but they don’t serve goiza in the dugout.
A company takes on a minority partner because they either need additional operating monies, or a competent operator that demands a piece of the action. The company that hired me was operating into the grave. I got my piece to run their company and they never told me how to that. We became highly profitable, sold part of the company off to retire all the old debt, and then began to buy new additions into the company. We were then hit with the recession, and went south. Their solution was to buy more and run up more debt, while, at the same time, refinance the debt we then had over our head. I didn’t like the idea. So goes my ownership days.
Let the Wilpons work out their own problems. None directly relate to field operations. New money will come in, old contracts will run out at the end of 2011, and 2012 will begin a new chapter in New York baseball.
Just root for the team. They need your support.