I'm usually Numbertruster McStatso in this blogspace, but this Forbes Magazine list attempting to quantify the 100 Best General Managers in sports is about as pitiful as it is retarded.
Using a poorly conceived mishmash of flimsy stats called "winning improvement index" and "payroll containment," Forbes has determined that the best GMs in sports are:
1. Kevin McHale, Minnesota Timberwolves
2. Jay Feaster, Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Billy King, Philadelphia 76ers
4. A.J. Smith, San Diego Chargers
5. Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils
6. Don Waddell, Atlanta Thrashers
First off, besides Feaster and Lamoriello, none of the others have won a championship; King's 76ers did make the NBA Finals in 2001, meaning four of the six best GMs in sports have a combined one Finals appearance in 29 seasons (McHale's Wolves have gotten past the first round once in his 11 years there.) Also note that McHale, King, and Waddell could all conceivably be fired in the next year and their fanbases would be happy. Can the same be said for Billy Beane (#26), John Schuerholz (#42), or Ozzie Newsome (#89)? Not to mention A.J. Smith constantly feuding with coaches and giving away Drew Brees to New Orleans, or Don Waddell adding Keith Tkachuk to the group of one-dimensional forwards he calls a team, or EVERY SINGLE CONTRACT Billy King and McHale have dished out in the past four years?
All right, so the list is BS. I don't need to waste more than a paragraph debating that point. My question is, though, how can Forbes, which seems so smart when it's sitting in my investment banker friends' bathrooms, come up with such a fundamentally flawed module?
Big problem number one - this garbage "Winning Improvement index" is meaningless. Billy Beane is the highest-ranked baseball GM at #26, just one spot above fucking Bobby Clarke, who was fired earlier this year and probably should have been two years ago. The list apparently treats winning and winning percentage as numerical equivalents between all sports; in the NFL, the Chargers went 14-2 this year, in the NBA, the Mavericks have an .847 win percentage, and in the NHL, with win totals weighted because of overtime victories, Buffalo technically has a .733 win percentage. Meanwhile, no team in baseball even finished above .600 in 2006, and the '01 Mariners, who set a modern record for wins, still only finished at .716. No matter what, improvement in baseball is never going to be as numerically drastic as it will in the other sports, and, as a result, Dave Taylor (#18) of the hapless LA Kings is a better GM than the Twins' Terry Ryan (#53).
Big problem number two - Counting "winning improvement" and not just "winning" improperly rewards GMs who happen to have taken over for struggling teams. The Chargers were 31-65 in the six seasons prior to A.J. Smith's arrival, which not only means that pretty much anything the Chargers would have done under Smith would have been an improvement, but it also means that Smith was allowed to reap the benefits of five seasons of high drafting, including the infamous Michael Vick trade orchestrated by John Butler prior to Smith's tenure that resulted in LaDanian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman, and Drew Brees coming to San Diego. The team obviously improved after that, and, long story short, A.J. Smith has a Winning Improvement index of 209, securing his space on Dumbnumbers Magazine's list of stupid doodooheads.
I could go on to talk about how the list only measures vague franchise results, not the actual actions of the GMs, or about how it doesn't weigh in highs and lows or playoff success, or pretty much anything about anything, for that matter, but what's the point? We all know that it would just more or less confirm what this list tells us - that Isiah Thomas of the Knicks (#82) and Dave Littlefield of the Pirates (#84) are better GMs than the Red Wings' Ken Holland (#90) and his three poorly indexed Stanley Cups.