“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” - old English proverb
Written by Jonathan Leshanski
Published: 17 November 2012
This is a great deal -- for Toronto. For the Marlins and anything that resembles a fan base, it was just another middle finger from a billionaire owner who already screwed the taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars when they built him a stadium for his team.
Of course we shouldn’t be surprised. Loria has fooled everyone more than twice.
But maybe now Bud Selig is ready to step in and not defend Loria as a standup guy. As I write this Selig is reviewing the trade, hopefully with the intention of vetoing it and perhaps announcing that MLB and its associated owners, not to mentions scores of players and millions of fans, have had enough of Jeffery Loria.
Yet that’s unlikely.
We’ve seen this before, a Jeffery Loria-owned team being gutted so that Loria could maximize his profits with no concern for the fans. Of course, then Loria was able to convince Bud Selig and the other owners to buy his Montreal Expos franchise and to allow him to buy that plum franchise down in Florida with a $38.5 million interest-free loan from MLB.
There he assured us he was capable of running a healthy and competitive franchise.
So much for that.
To be fair, Loria did try to make a huge splash in South Florida last season. He went out and spent big money for free agents with the hope that he could field a competitive team. That plan fell flat, and the season didn’t even end before Loria started jettisoning that talent.
If Selig approves the trade between the Blue Jays and the Marlins, Loria and team president David Sampson will have gotten rid of all of that free agent talent, but also have gotten rid of everyone besides Ricky Nolasco who earns more than $1.6 million in 2013 -- and that might have more to do with the fact that it’s hard to move pitchers who haven’t had an ERA of less than 4.5 since 2008 and are owed $11+ million for the last year of his contract.
This deal would lower the Marlin’s 2013 opening day payroll to somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 million dollars, by far the lowest in the majors by somewhere between $20-30 million dollars.
Think the fans are pissed? You should imagine what’s going on in the MLBPA (the player’s union) offices, who just three years ago struck a deal where the Marlins agreed to increase payroll.
So basically the players are mad (especially the ones still stuck in Miami), the union is mad, the fans are mad, the media is outraged and Selig is stuck deciding if he should allow the trade or draw a line in the sand with Loria and maybe reexamining just what role Loria has in MLB.
Loria has been the sore spot in what has otherwise been one of the greatest eras of success and popularity in the game and certainly has earned the title of baseball’s most hated owner.
Does anyone still trust Loria? Certainly taxpayers in South Florida don’t -- he’s screwed them once too often. The Players Union, nope. How about the players on his team? Not likely. Marlins fans -- if there still are any? Not a chance.
If anyone still trusts Loria and wants to do any baseball related business with him, it’s only the pantheon of owners in the game and maybe commissioner Selig.
And that’s why Selig will probably approve the trade. Blocking it would be something unprecedented. The Marlins might be shedding a ton of payroll, but what they are getting back are some very promising prospects.
Yet even if he approves it, you’d have to wonder if Loria would find himself in a hot seat. Loria certainly hasn’t proven himself as either an asset to the community of South Florida or to the game itself. The Marlins are a franchise that has been struggling to define itself and develop a loyal fan base, something the sport desperately needs if it’s going to survive in Florida and Loria simply doesn’t seem to care so long as he makes money.
That might be the factor that forces Selig to take some sort of a stand.
But unless forced to by MLB don’t expect Loria to sell off the team and even then he might go down kicking and screaming in a way that would put Frank McCourt’s tantrums to shame.
Loria has a seat at the big boys table when it comes to owning a major sports franchise. He’s profitable and he’s got a new stadium that should assure him of at least another 2-3 years of revenue despite fielding a wretched team.
During spring training last year the fans were even asking him for autographs. Clearly he feels he’s got the world at his feet, even if everyone else associated with the game (save perhaps the Toronto Blue Jays, who’ll be benefitting from Loria’s payroll dump), feels screwed over.