Top 10 Owners, Coaches/Managers, and GMs we’d Want to Grab a Beer With: Team Voices Survey

In each political cycle, one of the mainstream (see also: fatally flawed; dumb; malaise-d) media’s favorite straw polls is to ask prospective voters which of the major candidate’s in any particular election that they would prefer to have a “beer with.” Bah. As much as it might be cool to catch up with the world’s most influential persons in a one-on-one setting (see also: while playing foosball), in terms of overall excitement level, cracking a cold one with Ralph Nader ranks just below buying a new 12-pack of assorted tube socks at Target or restocking our office fridge with Puddin’ Pops.

That said, there is a sketchy group of all-too powerful, predominately-male, wealthy individuals we’d very much get in line to hang with: the men behind pro sports. For every Ron Artest twit-pick, or Shaq-Fu video game, we have just as often wondered, “how much do you think Jon Gruden enjoys visibly swearing on camera? Is that the best part of his day? I mean, seriously, it looks like genuine, Freudian carthasis every time dude let’s an F-bomb go within eyeshot of an ESPN-in-HD steadycam.”

With this is mind, we argued over, and subsequently, compiled a list of 10. Hope you enjoy.

10) Gruden, Jon (see above): NFL – HC of Tampa Bay Bucks, Oakland Raiders (both former)

We all knew Chucky was born to cop for broadcast television, so his ascendancy into the top-tier of the pundit-ocracy comes as no surprise. He’s pumped, jacked, etc, but not in such in that way that he gives off that sort of gum-chewing, raw-raw, skeevy (“you know I’m probably hitting on the cheerleaders”) Pete Carroll vibe. He also seems like he’d actually condescend to chat x’s and some serious o’s with rank-in-file fans after a couple. Bonus: seems like a guy who rolls at least a couple deep when he goes out, so maybe he brings Rich Gannon and/or Warren Sapp along with him for a few hours of war stories.

9) Francona, Terry: MLB – Manager, Boston Red Sox (current), Philadelphia Phillies (former)

They call him Tito, for chrissakes, and he let’s them get away with it. He’s a baseball lifer, born-n-bred in clubhouses, groomed to govern one of the most famous. He has three and one-half solid years of Manny-being-Manny stories and more than that of Curt ‘The Mouth, The Blog” Schilling tales to regale us with. And that isn’t even to mention the fact that dude effing managed Michael Jordan during his gambling exile from the NBA. Bonus: he’s genuinely funny. Favorite Francona quip, “well, we talked about that very thing just a little while ago, and we’ve decided that we are going to ask the Yankees not to bunt.” (Tito on what the Sox would have to do should Schilling have to field the ball in the infield during Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.)

8) Ryan, Rex: NFL – HC, New York Jets (current)

BECAUSE EVERYTHING, I MEAN EVERY SINGLE WORD SAID, WOULD BE LIKE THIS. ALL NIGHT. ALL NIGHT, BABY. WE’D DO IT ALL — PLAY THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY — BUT ONLY BIGGER, AND BADDER, AND WITH…AH HELL, YOU GET WHAT WHAT I’M SAYING. AND WHY? YOU ASK WHY? BECAUSE WE DO GIVE A F*** THAT’S WHY.

7) Cuban, Marc: NBA – Owner, Dallas Mavericks

Stole back a once-sadsack franchise from the brink of complete collapse. Pays for all of those NBA Cares spots in the amount of “stop being such a damn loudmouth” fines he pays to the league every year. Never answers a question — even Larry King softballs — with a rehearsed answer. The rare, young, fantastically rich guy who openly seems to enjoy being young and fantastically rich. Bonus: we would shoot straight to the top of the every Bill Simmons mailbag with every single “well, that one time when we were hanging out with Marc Cuban” story in our quiver.

6) Leyland, Jim: MLB – Manager, Detroit Tigers (currenty), Manager Florida Marlins (former), Pittsburgh Pirates (former)

He’s like a cross between the manager from Major League and Magnum, PI. Simply put, best mustache this side of Sam Elliot. Can’t imagine how cool it is to watch him sit back and hold court in his office after an ugly loss over a sixer of Banquet Beer and two packs of unfiltered Camels. But mostly, we just want to hear him tell “Barry Bonds was such a total dick that one time he…” stories. Bonus: office hours might well turn into an all-nighter of watching kung fu action videos with him and Johnny Damon.

5) Van Gundy, Jeff: NBA – HC, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks (both former)

Who knew he was so witty before they turned that mic of his on? Born to dish about the game. Seems like he’d even feel obliged to buy a round. Bonus: would get to make fun of Mark Jackson for about fifteen hours straight.

4) Belichick, Bill: NFL – HC, New England Patriots, HC New York Jets (former, sort of), HC Cleveland Browns (former, people forget this)

Dunno. People tell us he’s genuinely funny in person. Bonus: get to see his dark lair, and possibly, what he did with Randy Moss’ old brain before replacing it with that of the venerable Troy Brown in early 2007.

3) Guillen, Ozzie: MLB – Manager, Chicago White Sox.

(SEE ABOVE: REX RYAN ENTRY, BUT WITH MORE FACIAL HAIR!)

2) Manning, Peyton: NFL – QB/HC, Indianapolis Colts

We know he’s only really been on the job a year (since Tony Dungy passed away). But really, who knows more about the contemporary NFL than Peyton Manning? Not just x’s and o’s, but also, things like “how do you land 10 different, yet concurrently running, ad campaigns without any of your existing 20-30 ad sponsors braying about conflicts of interest?” or more specifically, “again, why should I get DirectTV again when I could just go to the sports bar for 16-17 weeks a year for the price of the beer and chips I’d be consuming anways?” Bonus: get to find out how he really feels about Eli Manning’s Super Bowl MVP Award.

1) Prokhorov, Mikhail: NBA – Owner, New Jersey Nets (i.e. soon to be Brooklyn ‘Somethings’)

Dude has so much money that he has a yacht that he pays someone else to sail around the world for him. He made his first million on stone-freaking-washed demin jeans in early capitalist Russia. Dude has stories. Period. Bonus: might get to star in either (a) a Nets-themed hip-hop video with Jay-Z or (b) an extreme jet skiing video with MP himself somewhere (no really, somewhere – he has no idea where his yacht is docked – in the Indian Ocean or something).

**Honorable Mentions: Gregg Popovich (sorry, we miss the beard); Mike Singleton (presumably a goldmine for all things un-intential comedy); Bobby Valentine (Japanese ball clubs get one, regularly scheduled weekend day off every week, which means ol’ Bobby-Bob has got something like 158+ anecdotes he’s ready to tell); Barry Melrose (the most beloved mullet in sports); Al Davis (‘cuz we want to see him in his silver-and-black iron lung/sweatsuit).

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