Joe Lacob's just the latest Bay Area owner to stir up controversy with something he said.
Joe Lacob found out quickly this week that you can have your heart in the right place. You can listen to suggestions and complaints. You can be the perfect embodiment of what every Golden State Warriors fan was looking for -- the opposite of Chris Cohan -- and one twitter update from Ben Golliver of Blazersedge can get set the Internet ablaze. Regardless if Lacob really said he checks to see if bloggers are season ticket holders to determine whether or not they're "real fans" while speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, or if it was just an off-hand remark about psychotic emailers with potty-mouths, the perception in the wake of the conference was that Lacob's judgment of bloggers (and by extension, all other fans) is based on how much they spend on Warriors tickets.
In truth, Lacob heads perhaps the most friendly organization in terms of new/social media in the region, if not the country. Full disclosure: my first ever media day invite was from the Warriors, thanks to the Warriors opening up their doors to bloggers this season. Since then, the Warriors gave me the chance to cover my first six pro games in any sport with full media access: home and visiting locker rooms, post-game press conferences, a media room filled with fried chicken and rigatoni, you name it. Lacob's smart enough to know that blog groups like SB Nation are growing in size and influence, and by extension all bloggers who've built some sort of audience and have been around awhile are a part of the conversation that can't be dismissed like some rude emailer who gets too profane and/or personal.
But the Warriors majority owner can take solace not just in the fact that he's actually more pro-blogger in terms of his actions than most owners, but also that making a comment he probably now regrets hardly makes him unique among owners. Mark Cuban has said so many ridiculous things over the years, his outlandish comments kind of run together. "Oh, Cuban just said he was going to buy Egypt and move the Mavericks there? Huh. That's interesting."
Here are five Bay Area owners who've said something they wished they could take back.
1. Bill Neukom: He's the king around here these days, but when he said the San Francisco Giants were going to do things based on a philosophy called the "Giants Way" early on in his tenure as Managing General partner, eyebrows raised from Eureka to San Luis Obispo.
2. Eddie Debartolo: Proof that even winning owners can get ahead of themselves when talking in front of a group, Debartolo memorably uttered the phrase, "He's gone," when asked about former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Marc Trestman during the press conference announcing Steve Mariucci as the team's new head coach in 1997. Trestman wasn't exactly a fan favorite at the time among fans used to playcallers directly from the Bill Walsh Coaching Tree, but even the harshest Trestman-bashers cringed when Debartolo dropped that little bomb.
3. Charlie Finley: One of the most unique (and stingy) characters in baseball history, he once said:
"There's an old saying that pigs get fat and hogs go to market. Well, some of the players these days aren't even pigs or hogs--they're gluttons. We have to keep salaries within reason. If we just rolled over and gave them what they wanted, we'd price ourselves out of business."
And you wonder why the owners have been accused of colluding against the players union so many times.
4. Jed York: When York texted "We're going to win the division" to ESPN back in October, the 49ers were 0-5. They went 6-5 the rest of the way, but it wasn't enough to win the historically bad NFC West.
5. Al Davis: Actually, Davis is one of those guys whose great quotes for outweigh his negative ones in terms of significance. "Just win baby" alone is enough to guarantee he'll be remembered forever for reasons other than moving the Raiders out of two cities, ruining the Oakland Coliseum and paying far too much attention to 40 times at the NFL Draft Combine. And he's been saying crazy stuff during press conferences about former coaches, the NFL and pretty much everyone else for years, to the point where nothing crazy stands out. Let's just say that Davis belongs in the pantheon when you're talking about owners whose colorful quotes make it easier for sportswriters (lowly bloggers included) to do their jobs.
St. Mary's Falls Short
- Another year, another WCC Tournament championship for Gonzaga. Now the Gaels are going to need help this weekend to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Let's just say this wasn't exactly a banner year for college basketball around here. No team was really bad (and some were surprisingly better than usual, like USF), but there's a pretty good chance no local D-1 squad makes anything higher than the NIT.
- The lone Bay Area squad with reasonable hopes of earning an automatic bid to the Dance is Cal, who after consecutive wins over UCLA, Oregon, Oregon St. and Stanford faces USC in the Pac-10 Tournament on Thursday. Cal's RPI is only 66 (St. Mary's RPI was 44 before the WCC Final), but it isn't out of the realm that the Bears (17-13, 10-8 Pac-10) could catch fire and win their conference tournament. This year has been wide open (translation: not that impressive) in the Pac-Soon-To-Be-12.
- The San Jose Sharks signed Antti Niemi to a 4-year extension. The Sharks are the hottest team in the Western Conference these days -- unless you count the Chicago Blackhawks. Niemi's former squad has won eight in a row to move to fourth place in the Conference, two points behind the Sharks.
- Logan Couture vs. Jeff Skinner for the Calder Trophy (awarded to the NHL's top rookie) seems familiar ... is this discussion not unlike Buster Posey vs. Jason Heyward for NL Rookie of the Year a few months ago? Posey had to overcome Heyward's early season hype by carrying the Giants in July, playing a tougher position and beating Heyward in the power categories. The 18-year-old Skinner is ahead of Couture by 5 points but trails Couture in plus/minus and ice time (by about a minute and a half per contest). If Carolina doesn't make the playoffs (they're currently 9th in the East, 1 point behind Buffalo), expect Couture to end the season as the Posey of this debate.
- Matt Cain's elbow got sore as Brian Wilson's back healed enough to make his Spring Training debut (a scoreless inning with 2 strikeouts against the Brewers). Cain update: he threw a 10-minute bullpen session on Monday, and reportedly feels fine. Phew.
- Gio Gonzalez has given up no hits or runs (2 walks) and struck out 10 in 5 innings. If you're in a fantasy baseball league with me that's drafting in the next week or two, disregard that last statement.