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Is David Glass one of the worst owners in sports?

Not really. But its a meme that refuses to die.

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Rolling Stone magazine, known for its writing on music, will also venture into other areas of writing and today they published an article on terrible sports owners. Sports owner can be wildly philanthropic and I'm sure wonderful people to be around, but they can also be terrible, miserly people who do bad things with their wealth. Rolling Stone listed the their fifteen worst owners in sports (why fifteen? why not?) and at number ten was our own Royals owner, David Glass.

Of Glass, writer Jeb Lund had this to say:

Amid a jackal pack of ownership that included a (future) commissioner guilty of collusion to fix player salaries, Glass – then the team's president and CEO – stood out as an anti-labor hardliner during the 1994 strike, wanting to bring in scab players for a monstrously un-telegenic spectacle summarizing the kind of fuck-you tactics Glass learned at the Bentonville, Arkansas smile-time sociopathy juggernaut. He simultaneously advocated a hard salary cap in baseball, not to create an even playing field with large-market teams but to have a paper excuse to wave in doubters' faces explaining why he didn't spend anything on his team.

Glass was among the hard-liners, although not nearly as much so as White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, credited with being the leader of the hardliner owners in 1994, (as well as being the "ringleader" of the ill-advised collusion against players, and the ousting of Commissioner Fay Vincent) but not listed in the piece. David Glass is listed as a terrible owner because he advocated for a hard salary cap despite the fact NFL owners successfully instituted a hard salary cap, and NBA and NHL owners imposed soft salary caps as well. Presumably these caps were implemented willingly by the players unions without any strong-arming from owners.

Lund continues:

Glass went ahead without one, with team payrolls routinely languishing in the bottom half of the league during his tenure, with notable years like 2000 (28th), 2003 (29th), 2005 (29th) and 2011 (30th). That's out of 30. The last two years, Royals payroll has leapt to 19th in the league, but don't let the 2014 World Series run fool you. Fans have every reason to expect them to regress, and every expectation that Glass won't spend to correct that (Goodbye, Billy Butler.) After all, four seasons of 100 losses and an average of 92 losses per season under his tenure is a much bigger sample size.

Yea, Billy Butler was let go because we couldn't afford him. Or the fact he had a .702 OPS in a second-consecutive declining year and his skill-set doesn't match their organizational philosophy. Nope, its definitely money.

Someone has to finish at the bottom of the league in payroll (the Royals don't play in Lake Wobegon, after all), so I was curious to see where the Royals ranked in payroll overall since Glass purchased the team, not cherry-picked seasons. I also wanted to see where that spending lay in relation to the market size each club played in, using Nate Silver's adjusted market size model.

Baseball Team Payroll 2000-2014 MSA Rank
1 New York Yankees $2,703,248,196 1
2 Boston Red Sox $1,972,358,698 8
3 Los Angeles Dodgers $1,740,271,878 3
4 Philadelphia Phillies $1,630,120,853 5
5 New York Mets $1,588,428,803 2
6 Los Angeles Angels $1,562,622,443 4
7 Chicago Cubs $1,459,766,826 6
8 Detroit Tigers $1,429,740,835 15
9 San Francisco Giants $1,416,876,990 11
10 Atlanta Braves $1,381,711,820 14
11 St. Louis Cardinals $1,368,111,697 24
12 Chicago White Sox $1,315,390,932 7
13 Seattle Mariners $1,311,120,269 23
14 Texas Rangers $1,269,320,106 17
15 Baltimore Orioles $1,161,211,738 12
16 Toronto Blue Jays $1,129,021,880 9
17 Arizona Diamondbacks $1,120,873,647 21
18 Houston Astros $1,060,150,126 16
19 Colorado Rockies $1,026,153,587 27
20 Cincinnati Reds $1,024,781,568 22
21 Cleveland Indians $999,180,966 20
22 Milwaukee Brewers $979,093,972 29
23 Minnesota Twins $969,827,206 25
24 Washington Nationals* $921,964,111 13
25 Oakland Athletics $840,934,037 10
26 San Diego Padres $840,666,772 19
27 Kansas City Royals $817,741,738 30
28 Pittsburgh Pirates $733,905,654 28
29 Tampa Bay Rays $710,789,369 26
30 Miami Marlins $667,801,887 18

*-the Washington Nationals played in Montreal until 2005.

The Royals are not big spenders by any stretch, but they're also not the worst. And you might notice, they play in the smallest market in all of baseball. If they were to be the most frugal team in baseball, they'd probably be excused on account of the fact there are only about 2.3 million people in the entire metro area, about as many people live in one of New York's five boroughs (Queens has about 2.2 million people). As you can see, the Padres and Athletics have been nearly as stingy despite playing in much larger markets. But Athletics owner Lew Wolff gets a pass I suppose for playing in a dingy (taxpayer-funded) stadium in the bad part of town and hiring a smart General Manager who can manage to win despite the payroll restrictions.

There is also a jab at having a publicly-financed stadium, which of course, nearly every other owner in professional sports benefits from as well, but David Glass once ran Wal-Mart, so that somehow makes him worse.

Its curious that not listed among the worst owners was the owner with a substance abuse problem, the one accused of racial discrimination (no, not that one, not that one, the other one), the one found guilty of defrauding real estate partners, the one who made his fortune through insider deals probably not legal in the United States, or the one who made his fortune on a company continually sued for fraud. I mean if you hate Wal-Mart and what it stands for so much, you could have even listed one of the actual family members of the Walton family, who is threatening to move his football team unless he gets a new stadium.

David Glass is certainly not an ideal owner, and I am certainly not his biggest fan. There are stories of him running the organization on the cheap, cutting Latin American budgets, meddling to interfere with trades, and offering Mike Aviles an insulting $1,000 "take-it-or-leave-it" bonus when Aviles was a college senior draftee.

But Mike Aviles was a college senior in George W. Bush's first term. That was ancient history. Since Dayton Moore was hired in 2006, the Royals have begun spending on amateur drafts, development, and player payroll. If you want to get into David Glass' track record as the CEO of Wal-Mart, hey that's fair game. There is certainly a lot to discuss there. But the notion of him being some cheapskate owner of the Royals is probably as outdated as the compact disc.