King of the oddballs
It's that time in sports when Santa gives away superlatives. The best this of the year, the greatest that. However, my favorite award is presented by
The Observer doesn't lack for outstanding choices. This year's winner, for instance, is one
Becali continues a long line of weirdos who have bought soccer teams. The owner of Nuremberg announced flat out that he wanted to blow all of his players' brains out. An owner in Sicily threatened to cut off his players' testicles and place them in his salad. The owner of the Perugian team signed
As deserving as all these strange men are, it is a shame that The Observer hasn't extended its net to capture American sports owners. Surely
Owners tend to be a very eclectic lot, although most are usually self-made men, who built up a fortune in some other enterprise and then assumed that it's just as easy to be successful in sport. A few do wisely realize they have no aptitude for this new business and, as Milton had it, "only stand and wait" as they put up the cash. Famously, one asked his general manager what he might do for the franchise.
"You're an owner, Ed," the GM replied. "Own."
Some owners do become intimately involved, but are shrewd enough to know their limits.
A few teams are still family businesses, but since the value of franchises only goes up, nepotism never pays a price. The football Cardinals may move from Chicago to St. Louis to Phoenix, but they have been owned by the same woeful Bidwell family since 1933, and no matter what the generation or the team's address, they are forever doomed to failure as the Bidwell Cardinals.
Clearly, though, the owner who takes the 2007 cake is
Yes, we're number one!