Giants owner Charlie Johnson is a rare breed

Giants owner Charlie Johnson is a rare breed
May 27, 2014, 8:00 pm
Share This Post
Charlie Johnson has been a hologram of an owner, even after three years as the team’s chief money guy.
Ray Ratto

The World Cup is nearing, so let’s get right to baseball, where Jeff Wilpon, the son of Mets owner Fred Wilpon, apparently overruled his general manager, Sandy Alderson, to fire hitting coach Dave Hudgens, more proof that as bad as the Mets are run, they will now be run far worse than that.

And why? For the same reason Robert Pera, who owns the Memphis Grizzlies, fired most of his front office and very nearly fired his head coach, Dave Joerger, just because he was in a bad mood. And why Donald Sterling, and why Jerry Jones, and why Danny Snyder, and all the other owners who think the right to decide things is the same as the best decision. Why, it almost makes you admire Giants owner Charlie Johnson, who remains a hologram even after three years as the team’s chief money guy.

Almost, that is. He could pop his head up and then just to say howdy and not cause any disturbance in the time-space continuum.


Then again, even silent owners are not much better, as Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz reminded us in a speech to the Atlanta Press Club in which he admitted that the deal to move the Braves into a new stadium in Cobb County was kept a secret from the people funding it because his bosses feared it would not have been possible if the public had gotten wind of it.

“It didn't leak out. If it had leaked out, this deal would not have gotten done," he said. “If it had gotten out, more people would have started taking the position of, ‘We don't want that to happen. We want to see how viable this was going to be.’ We were able to get that all done.”

In other words, democracy is for suckers, and tax money isn’t for the taxed. All honor and glory, then, to the Warriors for at least being up front with their Pier 30/32 plans, and for the people who fought back to force them to a more southerly site. I mean, Joe and Petey may not have had a choice, and they probably would never do it again, but this was the right way to be told no.


Then there is Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who may finally be getting it, courtesy the elves and elvettes at DC Sports Bog. In interviewing his new general manager Brain MacLellan, he found out right away that talking is almost as good as listening.

“When Brian had his interview with us, he was very, very straightforward. It really wasn’t an interview where he was trying to impress us or impress me, it was pretty straightforward. He led off with some of the things that I have to do to be a better owner. I thought was very brave and very astute because you don’t want to hear things like that. I thought that was very, very straightforward and honest and authentic to him. I was very appreciative of that because I obviously need to be a better owner.”

He will not be allowed to the next two owners meetings as a punishment for setting such a revolting precedent.


So money talks loudest again, and it shouted so loud in Sochi for the $51 billion Winter Olympics that the 2022 games have now had more cities drop out than show interest. The latest burg to bugger off was Krakow, Poland. Yesterday, Krakow officially withdrew its bid a day after a citywide referendum where 70 percent of voters came out against hosting the Olympics. Stockholm pulled out in January, Munich passed in November, and last March, a joint bid from Davos/St. Moritz, Switzerland, fell apart after being rejected by a public referendum.

Of the four remaining finalists, Oslo, Norway's bid is crumbling, and the bid from Lviv, Ukraine, is on fire with much of the rest of the country. The only bids still standing are those Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing, and after Sochi, there may be not be enough money left in the world to hold one of these.


To percolate fervor in France’s World Cup bid, adidas looked back at the proudest moment in recent French soccer by blowing up the bus the 2010 team barricaded itself inside to protest the coaching of Raymond Domenech. The catch phrase? “The end point of one of the darkest episodes in football history!”

And buy shoes, damn it, or we’ll blow up a fleet of Hummers next time.


Argentina forward Sergio Aguero, one of the game’s superior strikers, was doing an interview to pimp a rival shoe company’s ad campaign when he was asked if he aspires to be like his compatriot Lionel Messi, and provided a response that, if he weren’t laughing when he said it, would have come straight out of Lance Stephenson’s mouth.

“I don't dream about being like Messi . . . because he dreams of being like me!”

Very Pacer-like. But funny.


Northern Virginia Magazine’s “Best of NoVA 2014” edition serves to remind us that not all media are born equal. For the fourth year in succession, its readers have voted for “best professional coach” category, and failed spectacularly again. This year’s winner was Capitals’ coach Adam Oates, a man who was fired in April, following Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who supervised a disappointing season and retired; Dale Hunter, Oates’ predecessor, who had quit his job and returned to coaching junior hockey before the magazine hit the stands, and Bruce Boudreau in 2011, who was canned after another short playoff stay.

Next year, the magazine has its sights set on Wizards coach Randy Wittman, which means bad news for the NBA team. I’m figuring 31 wins, tops.


And finally, some historians have dug up evidence suggesting that ice hockey was not originated in Canada despite what we all believe, but in England in the 18th century, including in its findings a letter from Charles Darwin celebrating his son’s enjoyment of “hocky on the pond.” Evolution aside, the Canadians are sending Milan Lucic over to have a chat about this slander with Prince Andrew – who has been warned by the Queen to wear a cup.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for

More Team Talk