One of the more interesting questions the owners faced in today’s Washington Post Live “Business Of Sports Q&A” centered on the worst money that they had spent. Will Chang — locally the owner of D.C. United, but also the owner of baseball’s world champion San Francisco Giants — was pretty explicit. “126 million dollars to one of my players that was not even on the playoff roster,” he said, a fairly clear reference to pitcher Barry Zito.
Marla Lerner Tannenbaum and Robert Tannenbaum of the Nationals demurred, saying that their team is young and that they might have a better sense of this with a few years’ perspective. Ted Leonsis pointed to Jaromir Jagr, although he made sure to clarify that he viewed the problems with Jagr as “an organizational failure, not a Jaromir Jagr failure.”
And that brought the question around the panel to Daniel Snyder. “You know, I don’t need to answer this,” Snyder said wryly. “You all know.” The line got a good laugh from the audience, but it’s also not particularly precise.
This is my guess, though:
That certainly seemed to be what moderator Mary Jordan was implying in her blunt follow-up: how does it feel, she asked, to spend that kind of money “for a dud”?
“I think this,” Snyder said. “When you make a mistake, whatever the mistake, whatever the dollars are, you feel bad. You’re obviously hoping for the best. And one of the things that you try to do is you’re trying to make the right decision, you’re trying to be supportive … you end up taking the entire blame and responsibility and I understand that. That’s fine. But in reality, the intentions are in the right place.”
Which is not to say that the money doesn’t matter, or that Snyder doesn’t take the mistakes seriously. Jordan pointed out that it was his money to lose, so why should people criticize, but Snyder brushed that sentiment off.
“It may be our money, but it’s the fans’ teams,” he said. “And that goes across the board up here [for all the owners]: it’s the fans’ team. We have the responsibility to try to do the right thing, and from my perspective, obviously people have known I’m aggressive in seeking free agents, et cetera., but we’re trying to do the right thing.”
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