In a complete demolition of a recently rebuilt and rebranded franchise, Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria surprised no one by systematically assuring the 23 Miami baseball fans that their team will never, ever be competitive.
Hot on the heels of a sparkly new $634 million dollar stadium and sparkly new uniforms, the most abhorrent owner in professional sports traded pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck and center fielder Emilio Bonifacio to the Toronto Blue Jays for a bunch of prospects.
Coupled with the 2012 midseason trades of starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, high-dollar closer Heath Bell, and infielders Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante, the totality of the moves effectively shave WELL over $200 million dollars from their 2013 payroll. In fact, as it stands, the Marlins have less than $20 million dollars owed (before arbitration) to their 2013 opening day roster.
What is necessary, however, is questioning the motivations of a man who has, throughout his infuriating tenure as a team owner, repeatedly blown kisses to his fan base before immediately turning around and gleefully kicking them in the crotch.
Again, it’s not exactly a SURPRISE, however.
Jeffrey Loria began as an art-dealer and a baseball fan. After buying a modest stake in the Montreal Expos, he became majority owner in 1999. He subsequently made it his mission to isolate the Montreal fans and the surrounding municipalities by demanding a new stadium, playing home games in Puerto Rico (completely logical) and failing to broadcast games in anything other than English (makes sense).
Then, through a series of shady dealings involving THE COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE! (cue dramatic music sting), Loria sold the Expos to Bud Selig and the rest of baseball. Following this, then-Marlins’ owner John Henry sold his Florida team to Loria before he scampered off to buy himself the Boston Red Sox. In a classic Baltimore Colts-ian move, Loria packed up a truck and took all of his fine Canadian office equipment to South Beach. For all of the wheelings and dealings, he was sued (unsuccessfully) by the Expos ownership consortium under the RICO act, a legal proceeding typically reserved for criminal organizations such as street gangs and the mafia.
It was the opinion of the consortium—an opinion shared by Canadians and any baseball fan with an IQ over 70—that it was never Loria’s intention to keep the Expos in Montreal. They were right. It was the classic Cleveland Indians caper Major League, only in real life with real people (and more poutine).
And though the rest is history, it’s not exactly new or unusual.
After winning the 1997 World Series, the Marlins hacked their roster to pieces in what is traditionally viewed as one of the bigger “fire sales” in baseball history. (This was under then-owner (and Blockbuster founder) Wayne Huizenga.)
In 2003, they won the Series again, and the following offseason saw a repeat of their previous deconstruction.
Different only because it’s NOT following a winning season (and likely BECAUSE of the fact), this historic salary dump makes 1997 look like small potatoes. In a move that would make David Glass furrow his eagle’s brow in disapproval, Jeffrey Loria has made it painfully obvious that he doesn’t care about the fans of Miami, his public perception, or the fact that he will likely go down in baseball history as the Worst Owner Ever.
It must be interesting to live a life so driven by greed that your mind becomes almost reptilian in nature. To call Jeffrey Loria a snake, however, is too kind; even snakes have the occasional fan.
Happy holidays, Florida fans. I hope someone remembered to ask Santa that a certain art-dealer be dropped out in the middle of the ocean without a life-jacket, dipped in chum.
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