April 20, 2014

And You Thought The Dolans Were Bad….

And you thought the Dolans were bad….

How would you like to be a Miami Marlins fan and/or season ticket holder today? After being raked over the coals and being held hostage for a new stadium by owner Jeffrey Loria and his obnoxious step-son Team President David Samson, you thought you finally had something other than the threat of your team moving.

The new stadium tax you voted for barely passed locally and the 80% tax-payer funded ($409 million) Marlins Park was erected. Then last winter, Samson told the baseball world that the days of Marlins cost-cutting would be over, a new era of Miami baseball was here, and they were ready to win now. So they went all-in, signing All-Star Shortstop Jose Reyes for six years, All-Star Starting Pitcher Mark Buehrle for four years, and All-Star closer Heath Bell for four years. This was in addition to trying to throw the kitchen sink at Albert Pujols, who smartly took less money than what Samson and Loria offered to play for the Los Angeles Angels. In total, they spent $190 million. Their payroll went from the $50 million range to over $110 million. Meanwhile, Reyes and Buehrle’s deals were severely backloaded, and when I say severely, I mean unlike others in baseball.

Reyes made $10 million in year one, but 2015, it bumps up to $22 million for the final three years. Buehrle’s deal paid him $6 million in year one, and $18 and $19 million in years three and four. Oh, and the Marlins insisted that it was “club policy” that they don’t give no-trade clauses in their contracts. Everyone should have seen the writing on the wall.

Hopes were high, the Stadium was a monument in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood and baseball’s grand South Florida experiment was about to finally be tested. Except Loria and Samson had this horrifying plan in their back pocket. If they failed in year one, they could dump everyone and still make boatloads of cash. They’ve done it before.

12 months later – the Marlins were a flop on the field, their hand-picked, big name manager, Ozzie Guillen, was an unmitigated disaster and was fired, the play on the field was disappointing, and by the trading deadline, Loria and Samson were in dump mode. Previous Face-of-the-Franchise Hanley Ramirez was sent to the Dodgers for prospects. Then last night came the bombshell. The Marlins, who had already gotten rid of Bell’s bad contract two weeks ago in a deal with Arizona, sent Reyes, Buehrle, ace but oft-injured starting pitcher Josh Johnson, speedy 2B/3B/CF Emilio Bonafacio, and catcher John Buck to Toronto for Shortstop Yunel Escobar, starter Henderson Alvarez, C Jeff Mathis, and four prospects in a deal that is still pending MLB approval.

Maybe the Dolans aren’t so bad after all?

In all seriousness, I am hearing a lot this morning about how sorry we should be for Marlins fans and how the Loria ownership has been nothing but a bunch of crooks, hoodwinking the fanbase at every turn. But guess what. I don’t feel the least bit of sorrow for them. Not one bit.

Why you ask? It’s simple – they have no real fan base. They couldn’t support this team in year one of a brand new stadium when they spent all they could on every available free agent. By week two of the season, there were thousands of empty seats inside Marlins Park. By mid-season, the park was barely half full. Loria and Samson were so arrogant throughout the whole process, too. If they got a stadium built, they would spend and people would show up, dammed the past fire sales they had made. They were completely clueless to all of the ill-will that existed towards them in the community.

There is the bigger part for me, though. THEY HAVE WON TWO WORLD SERIES TITLES IN THE LAST 15 YEARS!

Seriously, nothing in sports may aggravate me more than the fact that this horribly run franchise has two titles in recent memory, including the 1997 Series which was stolen from us and would mean so much more to a DESERVING sports city.

I hate going to the “woe is Cleveland” card, but it’s the Florida/Miami Marlins. They have zero tradition. They are best known for their now three “White Flag” trades where they completely gut their franchise while ownership continued to pocket profits. Commissioner Bud Selig would never do it, but Loria’s despicable ownership should be a cause for him to step in, use the “best interest of the sport” rule, and force Loria to sell the team. Either that, or bring back the concept of contraction. They will never get any sort of real free agent stud to sign there after what they did to Reyes and Buerhle in particular. They both decided to choose a long-term future in Miami and after just one year, they are dealt with multiple years left on their deals to Toronto. (I don’t feel too sorry for them, they are still getting paid in full). And if you lived in Miami, why would you spend your hard-earned money to support the ultra slimy Loria and his weasel step-son Samson? Samson is lower on the food chain than David Modell.

And this is a franchise that has won Two World Series titles since 1997? AHHHHHHHH!!

Nobody said life was fair.

(Photo: Steve Mitchell, US PRESSWIRE)

  • Lyon25

    U read my mind. Amen

  • cmm13

    So I am confused as to why Miami fans would be so upset?
    If I was a fringe fan of the Marlins as suggested so many of them are, why wouldn’t I just stare at my two World Series pennants gathered in the past 15 years, bask in the sun and wait for the next one to come inevitably in the next 10?

    This isn’t the first time the Marlins have turned over their roster and it won’t be the last.

    The clear cut difference is that when they do it, the see results in their next “window of contention”.

    When we do it, our misguided trades and poor drafting leave us shooting again and again for the next “window”.

  • mgbode

    1. different organization built those winners

    2. they were promised spending if they helped finance a new park. local people pay $600mil; Marlins spend $120mil on first year except they jettison fan-favorite Hanley and others during the season and complete the deconstruction now. Fans feel like they were lied to.

    3. have the Marlins in the last 10 years been any better than the Tribe?

    4. I still hate them for ’97, so forget I said anything.

  • Grif_E

    Right now the Dolan’s aren’t so bad, but that’s ignoring that the franchise is walking to the same destination albeit on a different path. We’re taking the scenic route.

  • JNeids

    “How would you like to be a Miami Marlins fan…?” That’s a fargin trick question! There’s no such thing as Miami Marlins fans!

    Ok I’ll go finish reading now…

  • cmm13

    Don’t worry i blacked out from October 1997 until March 1999 after that loss, i don’t blame you.
    I guess my point is simply Miami has no qualms about their teams, ever. They are content to rake in a title here and there or sit on the beach.
    Yes the move seems bad to any real baseball fan, but do not worry…there are no real baseball fans in Miami.

  • Narm

    The Dolans are unwilling to take a risk at losing significant money by signing a large, long-term contract. Loria specifically screwed the city to get a new stadium and then gutted the team. You can disagree with how the Dolans run the team, but their intentions are not nearly the same as what Loria just did.

  • FearTheRoo

    I have heard of us losing Choo, Cabrera, Masterson, Perez, Santana, and Pestano. We haven’t had the “firesale” yet, but we will! Only a matter of time…

    It wouldn’t bother me, if we got quality in return. But I have lost faith in Shapiro and Antonetti. We’ll just end up with a roster full of Laportas, Marsons, and Chisenhalls. The AAAA stars!

  • Steve

    Actually Loria didn’t take as much of a risk as you think with how backloaded all three deals were.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julie-Beadle/39102483 Julie Beadle

    The headline should read “And You Thought the Dolans Were Bad.” No apostrophe. Sorry, it’s a giant pet peeve for me when people make things possessive that are supposed to just be plural.

  • Julie

    The headline should read “And You Thought the Dolans Were Bad.” No apostrophe. Sorry, it’s a giant pet peeve for me when people make things possessive that are supposed to just be plural.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Agreed and fixed!

  • Harv 21

    Preach, Julie. Welcome to Quality Control.

  • Steve

    The best part about this post is that of the six guys you don’t want to trade, Shapiro and Antonetti acquired five of them in trades, but yet, you have lost faith in their ability to deal. Also, I’m not sure what’s wrong with Chisenhall, can someone explain that to me?

  • Harv 21

    So when/if Loria feels like he’s accumulated enough talent through their system to make another move he can drop another hundred million and do it. And he’s shown he sometimes has both the ability and itch to do it.

    Oh, wait, he’s impetuous, impatient, insensitive and he lies. The Dolans are better owners because they do it “the right way.” Slow-cook that chili, baby, no short-cuts. Only prob is that little bunson burner they’re using. Every time they move one part of the big pot over the little blue flame the other part of the pot gets ice cold. This may take a while …

  • Steve

    Despite how awful Loria actually is, he had a crappy baseball team, was paying quite a bit for guys who weren’t pulling the team out of the basement of the NL East, and fans weren’t showing up to see these guys. Isn’t the right move to trade them?

  • Lyon25

    It really was a genius move to backload the contracts. A shady move, now knowing his intentions, but shrewd as a business move at least.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Nobody’s a more effective nudge than you Harv! :-)

  • Steve

    He’s been doing this for years, and will continue to do so. I’m not sure why anyone thought this would be any different.

  • Harv 21

    listen, man, don’t we all need a little push to bring out the full quality? I don’t mind being the sand in the oyster. This kind of feedback may seem a little obnoxious but is well-meaning, Craig. The best blogs combine good content with quality writing. Hope you take it as the compliment it is from your loyal readers.

  • Harv 21

    and I think you meant “noodge.” :-)

  • anon

    Yeah, Chisenhall is a fine third baseman. He may not be the best in the league, but I wouldn’t call him a AAAA player. His stats suggest that he belongs in the pros.

  • mgbode

    yeah, 94OPS+ as a 22yo (220PA)

    108OPS+ as 23yo (150PA)

    I’d say he’s coming along just fine so far. long way to go, but he’s got a ton of promise.

  • mgbode

    i don’t think anyone is surprised that he did it. just surprised that he started it 4 months into the season and is already done just afterwards.
    figured he’d at least give the new ballpark a couple years and the team time to gel. but, that’s not how he rolls.

  • Kildawg

    What other team would be up for contraction (if that happens) besides Miami? Tampa due to their lack of fan appeal? What about expansion? NOLA, Charlotte, and San Antonio want teams, maybe Sacramento and Brooklyn as well. Relocation also exists. We can safely say that the Dolans are the second-worst owners in MLB right now.

  • CBI

    Anybody else smile a little bit when you realized some of Lebron’s hard earned money went to build that stadium? (Nope, I’m still not over it.)

  • architrance

    The jokes on the players headed north. Sign long term in a state with no income tax then get shipped to Canadia and face probably at least -40% in taxes. Yikes.

    And I’m shedding exactly ZERO tears for the people of South Florida. I haven’t actually heard anything from down there. Do they even care???

  • CBI

    I do like how every single picture I see of Jeffrey Loria, he always manages to get his hands in the shot so you can see his WS ring. Classy!

  • mgbode

    sorry, no income taxes in Florida.

    so, it’d depend on where he built his mega-mansion that I assume he owns there.

  • mgbode

    first, all away games are taxed on the local taxes for the home team (has to be great fun to file 25 tax forms each year).

    second, at least we have a tax treaty with Canada (no double-taxation between countries when our citizens make $$ there and vice versa). that is not true for other countries (like when tennis/golf players make $$ in foreign tournaments they pay taxes there and to the US).

    finally, the tax rate in Canada for the top tier is 48% while it’s 35% here in the US. Canada is notorious for not allowing many types of deductions either, so their number is much more real.

    So, take the 13% tax hike but only for 1/2 the games and they just lost 6.5% of their salaries in the trade.

    Here is one of the sites I use for the tax info:
    http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/taxes-cost-professional-athlete.aspx#slide=6

  • deesh

    you could probably replace “baseball fans” with “sports fans” in your last sentence.

    alright fine, “sports minus football fans”.

  • CBI

    The article says “80% tax-payer funded”, so I’m thinking property taxes, sales taxes, car registration taxes, etc. There might even be income taxes at the county or city level. I always tended to think that states without income taxes jacked taxes in other area to make up for it.

  • CBI

    Hire a good tax consultant, get your effective tax rate in the US down to say 25% and you end up paying an extra 46% in taxes.working for Canada:

    1,000,000 X .25 = 250,000
    vs.
    500,000 X .25 = 125,000
    500,000 X .48 = 240,000
    =365,000

  • mgbode

    yes, they do on property taxes. that’s why it depends on which county he built his mega-mansion.

  • CBI

    Lebron’s $50 million dollar house is in Coral Gables, which is in Miami-Dade County (whose operation fund is paying for the stadium). So unless Lebron takes his talents to Jacksonville or Tampa Bay, a little bit of the shine on that arena, came out of his pocket.

  • mgbode

    yes, if he’s in Dade then he paid (can’t shake the rhyming thing from yesterday).

  • CBI

    Check out http://www.miamidade.gov/pa/tax_estimator/TaxEstimator.asp

    You can look up property taxes by name, but unfortunately “Lebron James” didn’t return any results. Using the estimator though, it looks like Lebron is paying around $980K in property taxes each year. Cyber-stalking is fun.

  • NoVA Buckeye

    Miami fans: Miami Heat!!!!

    Me: You don’t know who their coach is, do you?

    Miami fans: … LeBron James?

    Me: Nice try. Now guess who the owner is!

    Miami fans: … Dwayne Wade?

    Me: This is too easy.

  • NoVA Buckeye

    Or Naples or Ft. Lauderdale. Let’s stay local to South Florida.

  • NoVA Buckeye

    That statue in Marlins Stadium… may be the ugliest thing in baseball outside of Hollywood.

  • mgbode

    John Kruk is still associated with baseball. But that thing is close.

  • slbeef

    “Nobody said life was fair.”
    You don’t have to be from Cleveland to know that, but it helps.