Wild Pitch: Dan Snyder’s Buy Low-Sell High Technique

July is a tough month for sports.  Baseball’s post All Star Game period has started and we’ve got a long way to go before the October Classic.  By that time our attention will be fixed on more interesting things like Football or watching paint dry.  But we have all winter for that.  It’s July, the sweltering summer heat is upon us now and there is nothing we can do now to bide our time but watch “sportscenter.”  The mind numbing top tens that feature walk off homerun after walk off homerun and maybe a dunk here and there from the NBA’s summer league.  But maybe that’s just me.  I should pop in a season of “The Wire” here and there.  I have only heard good things about that show.

The most hated man in DC is almost always one of two people, The President or the Redskins owner.  As we approach football season the pendulum of public scrutiny will swing farther and farther in Dan Snyder’s direction.  The franchise’s eleven-year owner and 1.3 billion dollar man neither has the backing or the charisma of Mr.Obama.  Unfortunately Washington’s billion-dollar man is seen as more of a privileged David Brent than the super owner that I’m sure he wishes to be.  And it’s certainly not going to help him that the city’s favorite goateed team owner has successfully turned Washington’s hockey team into a contender and is looking to do the same with a currently dismal Wizards team.  I am of course talking about Ted Leonsis, Washington’s sports savior, the man who drafted Alexander Ovechkin and John Wall.  I don’t mean to crown Teddy as the king of Washington yet.  Really he hasn’t won any championships, but it can’t be denied that he is giving Mr. Snyder a run for his money.

Dan Snyder has created a new attitude of Redskins football.  Buy high and sell low.  Bring in a washed up veteran, a new coach, and an expensive free agent and mix up the system.  The team has consistently made bad personnel moves in an attempt to be an immediate Super Bowl contender.  The Washington Redskins are making moves that only make sense if you are The Yankees (or perhaps a super team from the UEFA league.)  The Redskins are a poor man’s New York Yankees in a league that doesn’t take kindly to bad personnel moves.  The Redskins can go from a top ten NFL team to a bottom ten NFL team quicker than any team in the league but the team is never a serious contender, at least not since Snyder took over.  DC sports fans are used to the disappointment of all of Washington’s sports teams but we really have made it an art by rooting for the Skins year in and year out.  Every year the Redskins are a new team.  They could be a 9-7 team, they could be a 5-11 team but they are not a serious Super Bowl contender.

In last November’s issue of Rolling Stone there was an article about Dan Snyder titled, “How to Wreck a Team.”  That gives you a good idea of the sort of outlook the public has on The Redskins’ owner.  He is seen as a sniveling little weasel with a Donald Trump like style.  I have many qualms with the man, being a DC sports fan, but he puts people in the seats.  Not that that means much, even Bernie Madoff could get people in the seats, even if he wore an orange jumpsuit to every game.  The article went on to describe Snyder as a “Dangerous spoiled rich cheerleader” and said “Daniel Snyder’s performance this (past) year is a tour de force of executive douchery.”  Granted, the article was written in the midst of football season.  Tensions were running high, and so too will they be come next football season.

Why so much animosity towards Dan Snyder?  The guy never killed anyone as far as I know (but that would be a hell of a story.)  It’s because of a couple of reasons (and I’m sure a lot of reasons that I’m overlooking at this time.)  One is that he’s run into some bad luck.  He took a team coming off of a high point (he took over the team in 1999, they won Super Bowls in 1982, ’87, and ’91.)  He missed the Redskins era of excellence by a few years and got a team that was past it’s prime and ready for turnover.  Turnover was what it got but not the kind that wins championships, a fact that does not sit well with a city that had it’s taste of winning.  The expectations were and really still are very high for the Redskins.

Another reason for the animosity is the fact that Dan Snyder has eliminated the team’s rebuilding step.  The front office is constantly buying up big free agents and trading away draft picks.  What team has shown that that strategy works?  The Patriots didn’t even win a championship after signing Randy Moss.  Free agency is not always a way to win.  In today’s NFL I still have yet to see a team buy it’s way to a championship.  It is the only sport where this kind of thing can’t be done.  Dan Snyder has yet to see this.

Look up Daniel Snyder on google and you will get more than just a few links to blogs like “Fire Dan Snyder” and “Darth Snyder.”  The man is not liked or respected in the Washington area or anywhere where there are football fans for that matter.  The man breeds contempt from football fans and experts alike.  Is it because of his record (the Redskins are 80-96)?  Or maybe his relationship with the fan base (the franchise’s ticket prices have risen heavily since Snyder took ownership and fans are charged for tailgating in special stadium lots)?  Whatever the reasons are, Dan Snyder has a hard time getting DC sports fans on his side and based on his track record he hasn’t been trying all that hard.  ESPN Magazine’s “Ultimate Team Rankings” place the Redskins as the 28th ranked NFL franchise and 105th for any franchise in any US sport (fan relations are ranked at 107.)

Maybe this year will be different, that’s what all of us DC sports fans have been saying.  Maybe the boss will step back and let Mike Shanahan run things.  Hell!  Maybe he will stop making decisions all together.  Maybe he got this one right.  Maybe Donavan McNabb will be the quarterback he always has had the potential to be.  But that’s a lot of maybes, which is not a change for this Redskins organization especially going into the NFL season.  All I really know is that FedEx Field will be packed every Sunday from September to January and Dan Snyder will be facing a whole lot of loyal followers when they win and a whole lot of angry hate mail when they lose.

-Dr. AJ

(Dr. AJ writes his column “Wild Pitch” regularly each week.  He received a PHD in “Football” from a University that has asked to remain nameless.)

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