15 Sports Myths and Why They're Wrong

By Rodney Fort; Jason Winfree | Go to book overview

8 OWNERS AND GENERAL
MANAGERS ARE INEPT

What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs, over 100
RBIs last year! He’s got a rocket for an arm. … You don’t know what the hell
you’re doing!

—Frank Costanza proclamation on Seinfeld


INTRODUCTION

Many fans and pundits feel that a shockingly high percentage of General Managers (GMs) seem to have very little idea what they are doing when it comes to talent evaluation and crafting a winning team. Since owners hire GMs (and take some of that role upon themselves at times), it follows that owners are inept by association. For those that feel this way, examples of bonehead moves are legion. Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees after the 1919 season for $125,000, purportedly to finance stage plays (Frazee is, after all, usually referred to as the theatrical promoter that also owned the Boston Red Sox). The Portland Trailblazers drafted Sam Bowie ahead of Michael Jordan in 1984. The Atlanta Falcons took Brett Favre in the second round of the 1991 draft and traded him, after only one season, to the Packers for the 19th overall pick in the 1992 draft. Readers will have their own examples of bonehead mistakes made by the GM of their favorite team.

And if it isn’t bonehead choices, then it’s boneheaded overpayment. Time and again, proponents of this view drag out the example of the New York Yankees. Let’s just review the 2011 season. The Yankees spent $202.7 million on payroll, according to the USAToday.com Salaries Databases. They won the AL East (0.599 winning percentage) but lost the ALDS to Detroit. The Tigers’ payroll was $105.7 million, and they took the AL Central (0.586 winning percentage) but lost the American League Championship Series to Texas. The Rangers spent $92.3 million in payroll, won the AL West (0.593

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