Wednesday, November 14, 2012

MLB's Embarrassment

When the Florida Marlins opened their new stadium last year, something owner Jeffrey Loria claimed they needed for years to be competitive, there was a feature that drew snickers and scorn: a giant home run pinwheel.

It was viewed as typically Miami: ugly, garish, show off, all style and no substance.  It was an embarrassment in the ballpark that summed up the home city.

It's no longer the most embarrassing thing in the ballpark.
Hanley Ramirez (AP)
Hanley Ramirez could have seen this coming.  In fact he probably did.  The perennial All Star third baseball/shortstop had been the face of the franchise.  Talented, albeit enigmatic, he and his remaining $46.5 million contract were shipped to the Dodgers, inexplicably, in late July.  While it was a fire sale, few saw it as the start of a purge.  After all Jeffrey Loria lived up to his billing at first, dropping major money on a team that bloated the Marlins payroll up to $118 million, up from $55 million the year before.

The traditionally stingy Marlins had filled their spanking new stadium with stars like shortstop Jose Reyes (six years, $106 million), starting pitcher Mark Buerhle (four years, $58 million), and closer Heath Bell (three years, $27 million).  They even made well publicized overtures to Albert Pujols.  They were serious.  The stadium that cost the taxpayers of Miami $409 million had stars, something the Marlins had lacked in their history.

However after a 68-94 season things needed changed.  It started with the firing of controversial manager Ozzie Guillen.  More blood shed when the Marlins traded Heath Bell, a huge bust, to the Arizona Diamondbacks in October.  Of his remaining $18 million the Marlins paid $8 to get him away because he was so bad, everyone thought.

Jose Reyes (Business Insider)
Then there was yesterday.  Yesterday Jose Reyes (five years, $92 million remaining), Mark Buerhle (three years, $38 million remaining), Josh Johnson (one year, $13.75 million remaining) as well as catcher John Buck (one year, $6 million) and Emilio Bonifacio (arbitration eligible) were shipped to the Toronto Blue Jays for a collection of prospects and barely ares.

The rebranding of the Miami Marlins, ne Florida Marlins, was dead.  The promise of a thriving baseball scene in Miami was gone.  The only thing left, a stain on Major League Baseball.  The man that killed the Montreal Expos, Jeffrey Loria, had done it again.  This time he bilked the public out of $409 million.  That's $409 million that will go on to cost $2.4 billion over the next 40 years.

Jeffrey Loria has once again killed a baseball franchise and once again Bud Selig stands by and watches it happen.  This time more than just baseball is affected.  Two generations of Miami residents and tourists will pay for the robbery of a man whose waste goes far beyond talent and potential.  A trade has given the Marlins a death penalty and baseball's higher ups folded their hands while Bud Selig shrugged.

In nothing more than a modern day shell game Loria wheezed and wailed to anyone who would listen on the need of a stadium, one they could not afford, to be competitive and break out of the constant rebuilding malaise that had engulfed the franchise from the outset.  As soon as his audience was captive, he showed them how easy the game was before showing his true hand.  A series of high profile signings with backloaded contracts.  A guaranteed one and done with the hopes of a big payoff, one that never arrived.  As soon as he had the customers sucked in and the money given, the shells were gone.  And baseball let him get away.

Jeffrey Loria (Getty)
A brand new stadium will stand empty.  No stars will bother to sign with a franchise that has shown zero desire to keep them around.  No fans will come to the games of a team who has shown no desire for a commitment to winning.  So there the stadium will sit, a monument to waste and the legacy of a horrid human who bilked an entire region out of money, sport, and heart with the permission of the sport.

With no stars to support a dead franchise in a dead region that home run pinwheel will rarely work.  On the small occasion it does the tacky music, spraying water, and flipping dolphins will no longer be looked at as the most embarrassing aspect of the franchise, just a microcosm of all its owner stands for.

All flash, all style.  No substance.  No passion.  No heart.

And it's allowed to continue.

Truly embarrassing.
Follow Case and Point on Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook to be the first to learn about new articles, podcasts, and breaking sports news.  Get in touch with Case and Point at

No comments:

Post a Comment