Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What Was That About Worshipping False Idols?

There it was, on the front page of the sports section of The Arizona Republic. An urgent plea for a statue of Jerry Colangelo to grace downtown Phoenix. Oh, they love them some JC at the Republic! And to be fair, compared to the other owner's of professional sports franchises that our sad metropolis has been burdened with, Colangelo would probably be the pick of the litter. But what a feeble litter!

Let's see, first you've got the Bidwill's, pere et fils, who spent years defying the NFL's concerted efforts to raise up the historically bad franchises by any means possible. Parity is the expressed goal of everything the league does. And still the Cardinals always stayed at or near the bottom. That kind of commitment to mediocrity was rewarded by a shiny new tax payer funded stadium, by the way. The new stadium increased the value of the Bidwill's family business to close to a billion dollars. This same stadium will cost well over a billion dollars of public money by the time all the bonds are paid off. But never mind that. We love our football too much to care about such things. Besides, the Cards are semi-respectable these days.

Then there's that trucking magnate who pissed away 2-300 million bucks on the Coyotes. I've never been quite sure how to pronounce his name. Is it "Moyz" or "Moyess"? I suppose "numbnuts" will do in a pinch. Of course, he had the help of the Mayor and City Council of Glendale--except when he really needed it. The Coyotes are now owned by the NHL--and heavily subsidized by the tax payers of  Glendale. Services will be cut, residents will suffer, hell, the city might even go bankrupt, but you'll never take our hockey team! Never, never, never!

After nearly 40 years and no NBA championships, Colangelo himself was forced out of the Suns by Robert Sarver, he of the court-side seats, big foam finger, and crappy personnel decisions. Some people buy sports franchises thinking they are the next Mark Cuban or George Steinbrenner. Most of these people are dead wrong. Robert Sarver meet Daniel Snyder.

That brings us to the Diamondbacks, Colangelo's other noteworthy accomplishment. Yes, they did win the World Series 11 years ago. Yes, JC deserves some of the credit for it. However, he ran the team so deeply into debt with a string of big deferred money contracts (Bernard Gilkey? Really?) that it's taken them the better part of a decade to get their heads above water again. At some point, the partners who had real money invested in the team grew tired of seeing their shares diluted and showed JC to the door. Since he never had much of his own money invested, it wasn't that hard to remove him.

But then Jerry Colangelo has always been very good at spending other people's money. This has worked out very well for Jerry Colangelo, but not always so well for the people whose money he used.

So, in keeping with his modus operandi, I propose that any statue of Colangelo be paid for with borrowed money...that will never be paid back.

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