Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria recently spoke to the local media and wrote an open letter to all Marlins fans, his first public statement since the ill-advised trade that sent Marlins superstars to the Toronto Blue Jays in return for slightly above average prospects to Miami.
As if a blind man holding a chainsaw, Loria trimmed payroll left and right, regardless of prior performance to the team. But this was not the first time that he has made this kind of maneuver; it was not even the first city that he has done it in.
And, beyond all reason, Loria had an expectation that the media and fans would understand and respect the team’s decision making.
In his full-page letter to the fans (the few that remain), Loria boasted about how the team’s offseason moves bolstered the minor league system, as: “Of the Top 100 minor leaguers rated by MLB Network, we have six — tied for the most of any team in the league.”
Congratulations to the Marlins are in order for that feat. However, only two of those top prospects came as a result of the offseason moves. Not only is Loria bragging about a sub-par team, he is insulting the collective intelligence of the fan base.
Jeffrey Loria’s job, as owner, should have two main charges — winning and making money. In Loria’s perspective, winning would just be a nice accompaniment to garnering heaps of ill-deserved dollars.
According to an article written late last year by Jonah Keri for <Grantland.com>, the Marlins are expected to pull in upwards of $70- $80 million before they sell a single ticket or hot dog as a result of revenue sharing and a national TV contract.
Now, factor in revenue from the shiny new ballpark in Little Havana and the Marlins are sitting on plenty of cash, especially when they must spend only a little over $30 million on a Major League payroll.
When asked why he thought the fans would show up at the ballpark when they won’t know most of the team, Loria said, “If they like baseball, they’ll come.”
Then why, Mr. Loria, did they not show up last year?
“Well, because they were losing,” he said.
Wait a minute! Did he just insinuate that fans will show up this year because he will field a competitive, fun-to-watch team?
Loria’s patronizing is baffling, and the worst part about this situation is that it would be extremely unfavorable for him to sell the team as he has done a fantastic job in constructing it to produce money.
If I may recall my December column in the Pinecrest Tribune, I alluded to a method called The Pro-Baseball Movement, which allows Marlins baseball fans to enjoy the national pastime, but not fill the pockets of the greedy team owner. The movement suggests that fans should do such things as purchase tickets from second- hand markets (i.e. Stubhub), park in the front yards of homes located near the stadium, bring their own food to games and not buy any team gear.
This year, attendance at Marlins home games will be a mockery. The fan base needs to scream loud to get Loria’s attention because he lives in a place where, apparently, he is secluded from public opinion. Jeffrey Loria, read my lips, they’re serious!
Preston Michelson is a senior at Palmer Trinity School where he is the public address announcer for all varsity sporting events. He is a frequent contributor to this newspaper and the opinions he expresses are his own and not necessarily those of the editors and publishers. Contact him on Twitter at @PrestonMich or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org