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LA Had McCourt; South Florida Has Loria

By Akiem Bailum–Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Most people would call them charlatans. Bud Selig calls them “owners”.

Three things are certain in life—death, taxes, and the Miami (or Florida) Marlins selling off their entire team every few years. We’ve seen it in the past even when they won their two World Series rings in 1997 and 2003. For some reason, Miami always seems to be a seller’s market.

Then came this year—2012. The Fish drastically increased their payroll and signed some big time players. These included Heath Bell and Jose Reyes. They even locked up a major name to become their manager—Ozzie Guillen.

And, of course, there’s that whole thing about the Marlins having a brand-spankin’-new taxpayer-funded stadium in a part of town called “Little Havana”. Of course, Miami would have a neighborhood called this since the area is virtually half Latina/Latino. This was also part of the Marlins broader strategy to blend in more with the South Florida lifestyle, hence the new logo as well.

But, as we’ve seen with Jeffrey Loria and the Fish, some things change yet others continue to remain the same.

Tonight, huge news broke that the Miami Marlins had announced a new deal to send Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar and a few prospects.

Firstly, trading for Yunel Escobar when it’s the worst-kept secret in baseball that he’s not exactly the best hustler on the base pads? In baseball circles, Escobar’s name is practically mud.

“Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain and simple,” tweeted Giancarlo Stanton.

Ricky Nolasco also let loose on his Twitter account with a 1-word response.


It’s interesting that Nolasco gets mentioned here, because, according to reports, the Marlins are not done. It looks like Nolasco could be next to hit the trading block this year. And if Stanton is this ticked off, he may want a trade since he seems to be reading Loria’s tea leaves for what they’re worth.

Current Blue Jay Jose Bautista also chimed in. Of course, we got a more positive response from Joey Bats.

“It’s a good day to be a bluejay!”

A wonderful day, Joey Bats. The Blue Jays just stocked up big time in a hot stove session that has seen their division rival Yankees and Red Sox do a grand total of nothing so far. In the eyes of many, the Jays just became the favorites to win the AL East in 2013. In the province of Ontario, a rarity is happening—no Jays fans are saying bad words about their owner, Rogers Communications.

But back to Loria.

It turns out everything that happened prior to the 2012 season was nothing more than a smokescreen for what would be yet another Marlins fire sale. The rebranding, the new stadium, the signing of players, the increase in payroll, the new manager, etc. would all lead to another one of these.

There’s something different about this one though. In the past, the Marlins have executed fire sales with the idea of loading, dumping off, and then loading up again slowly but surely. There’s something different about this one. What makes this thing so different?

Marlins Park.

One thing, though, that has not changed about the Miami Marlins is the attendance they are drawing to their new palace in Little Havana. They drew a huge crowd for their nationally televised season opener at the place vs. the St. Louis Cardinals only to see the Marlins not do much of anything vs. the Cards. The pregame ceremonies for the opening of Marlins Park resembled less like MLB Opening Day and more like the Opening Ceremonies of the World Cup.

It’s practically clear that Miami simply isn’t a baseball town. I would love nothing more than for baseball to succeed in South Beach since they’ve won two championships. But, there just doesn’t seem to be the passion for the Pastime in South Florida like there is in St. Louis, New York, Boston, Chicago, or in other cities.

With the climate not conducive to NHL and both the Dolphins and The U struggling at football, Miami’s sporting interests are basically limited to futbol and basketball.

This deal also takes me back to when MLB was intervening in the controversial Frank McCourt proceedings last year that involved him, his wife, and the LA Dodgers. Before McCourt ultimately gave in and Los Doyers were bought out by an investment group that included Magic Johnson, McCourt once made an interesting case.

He said that Selig’s hardline stance that McCourt should exit from the game was a double standard because other owners, like Loria, were doing the exact same thing—using their teams as virtual ATM machines for their other business interests. Let’s also remember that Loria is still in baseball because of a shady deal that involved him selling the Montreal Expos so he could buy the Fish.

There’s clearly no honor among thieves in Major League Baseball, and it turns out, McCourt was correct with this one.

Cheap owners are abound throughout Major League Baseball. It’s not just Loria. David Glass is the one that stands out to me as the head man in charge of the Kansas City Royals. He also happens to run a little small business in America’s Heartland known as Wal-Mart.

I think he’s got money, yet the Royals continue to stink every year.

Honestly, it is true that spending a bunch of money will not guarantee you a championship or the Yankees would’ve won 15 of the last 15 World Series. But spending smart money, as we know, can contribute to a championship. The Yankees use the money from their TV deal with the YES Network to invest back in the team.

The Marlins aren’t spending smart money. Heck, they’re not even spending at all. McCourt, Loria, and others like them are clear cut cases as to why baseball could use a salary cap in addition to a salary floor. This way, one New York Yankee won’t have a payroll as high as the entire Florida Marlins starting lineup.

Some baseball fans love this deal because the possibility of the Yankees and Red Sox heading back to the playoffs decreased a little bit tonight. But if there are still any South Floridian baseball fans left after tonight, they’ll be looking at this deal and think, “Loria fleeced us into paying for his new stadium just so he could sell off all of our good players?”

Oh yes, he did. And he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

The 2013 Miami Marlins—see you in last place somewhere.

The (20–) Marlins—see you in Las Vegas (or Portland, Charlotte, New Orleans) somewhere?