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)