For the past three years Jeff Moorad has seen nothing but smooth sailing. His ownership bid was going along better than planned. By this month, he was so far ahead on payments, the final installment was in escrow. All he needed was MLB approval and the approval of the other owners in the league. Then he hit an iceberg.
That’s not to say his ownership hopes are sinking, but they are clearly stalled. We don’t know the true reason why the vote to approve Moorad failed to go through. All we have are sound bites and rumors. There may be a genuine reason Moorad’s bid should be delayed, but that’s not the point. The point is baseball needs to change the way owners are approved.
Rumors have swirled about Ken Kendrick, the managing general partner for the Diamondbacks, and a personal obsession he may have with blocking Moorad. There have been plenty of references to Moorad not fitting the mold of who MLB owners want to add to their “club.” Bud Selig spoke of economic issues that need to be resolved, but failed to clarify, and left us with nothing more than a cryptic message. The entire process is flawed.
Mark Cuban has been essentially told that he won’t fit in with baseball owners. He’s been a polarizing figure among owners and a person Bud Selig does not seem to approve of. But should that keep him from owning a team? Jeff Moorad is far from a Mark Cuban-type. Where Cuban is animated and brash, Moorad is reserved and stoic. Yet they may face similar problem in joining the Good ‘Ol Boys Club.
The very fact that joining the ranks of MLB team owner is like joining the most exclusive country club is a problem that holds baseball back. To make decisions based on personal feelings, vendettas, assumptions, and characterizations may bar owners who can truly help a team succeed. Someone with unique views and plans who could have turned a perennial loser around may have been barred because “he’s not ownership material.” It’s time for change.
I don’t have a concrete solution for the issue, but team owners probably shouldn’t be involved in selecting and approving a new owner. A board of directors-type set-up may help keep the decision-making based on fact. Bud Selig can retain his control, but give the voting powers to a board who has baseball knowledge but is not made up of owners. Clearly the solution isn’t something that can be found in mere minutes. Baseball should explore new options, pilot new ideas, and work towards a better way to select owners. Jeff Moorad may have his issues, but if there is not a true economic reason for the delay in his approval, baseball has failed.