SBD/November 15, 2012/Franchises

Marlins Fans Show Displeasure After Trade With Blue Jays; Media Debates Merit

A group of Marlins fans planned to protest today outside of ballpark
The Marlins' ticket office "got plenty of calls" yesterday from "disgruntled fans, who also hit the airwaves and Twitter," according to Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. Marlins Dir of Business Communications Carolina Perrina de Diego "declined to comment on whether fans threatened to cancel their season tickets." But some longtime fans said that they "would not renew" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/15). Longtime Marlins fan and Miami resident Gary Cooper said that he is "organizing a protest outside Marlins Park at noon Tuesday to let Loria know what fans think" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/15). In Ft. Lauderdale, Juan Rodriguez writes "convincing fans the team is better without guys" like P Josh Johnson, SS Jose Reyes and P Mark Buehrle "won't be easy." Marlins President David Samson also "sidestepped the question of the team's payroll." A projected 25-man roster based on players currently within the organization "totals around $36 million, including money the Marlins are sending the Diamondbacks" for P Heath Bell. The Marlins' '12 Opening Day payroll "was around $94 million" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/15). SI.com's Michael Rosenberg writes of Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria, "What can he tell his fans, who presumably pay taxes and therefore bought him a new stadium so he could boost his payroll?" (SI.com, 11/14). Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, "Many times, on the record, they made a commitment that once they had a stadium, they would have a competitive team. The team seems to have indicated that they won’t do that now or in the future" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/15). Gimenez said, "They stopped one trade short -- they need to trade owners. I’ve never cared for this ownership group, and look, they’ve done it again. I don’t think they’ve got any credibility left" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/15).

BUILT ON A LIE? In Miami, Dan Le Batard writes it "feels today like our poor city helped build a bejeweled cathedral for false prophets in search of false profits." The Marlins run "their business with little regard for customers or public relations or decency." The players and employees "are cattle," and the customers "are suckers." Le Batard: "You don't trust the people who run the Marlins to tell you the truth, to get the right players, to do their job competently" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/15). SI's Tom Verducci said the “problem” is that Marlins Park was predominantly funded with public money and “you turn around and you pull the plug after one year." Verducci: "It’s hard for people to get that and to live with the history of how Loria has treated the fans of South Florida" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 11/14). The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said, “This is a shameless act by a shameless person, Jeffrey Loria, and he does not care what you think, I think, any taxpayer thinks, Bud Selig thinks, anybody thinks” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 11/14). The GLOBE & MAIL's Hayley Mick writes even those "involved in the decision to build the new ballpark acknowledge that the trade has now weakened the Marlins brand." Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said, "The Marlins have lost pretty much all credibility with fans. Even if this trade is a positive move from a baseball standpoint, it won’t be viewed by the general public as a positive move" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/15). TIME.com's Sean Gregory wrote under the header, "How The Miami Marlins Disgraced Baseball." Gregory wrote you do not secure public money "from a recession-wracked region, secure good players for the stadium’s opening season -- to show your supposed commitment to winning -- and then, almost immediately, execute another Marlins fire sale." Marlins fans "can no longer trust the team, or its ownership" (TIME.com, 11/14). 

THE AFTERMATH: In Ft. Lauderdale, Mike Berardino writes Loria "pushed the panic button and left South Florida baseball a nuclear wasteland." Loria's approval rating is at "an all-time low, his baseball legacy trashed" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/15). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes of Loria, "You're an owner who betrayed your fans, deceived your players and has lost credibility for as long as you stay in the game." Several owners were "snickering at the Marlins dumping their three biggest free agent acquisitions of last winter" in Reyes, Buehrle and Bell after one season. Player agents "were livid, vowing they would never permit premier free agents to sign with the Marlins" (USA TODAY, 11/15). In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes MLB Commissioner Selig "should say no" when Samson "gets around to filing his formal application for the 2015 All-Star Game at Marlins Park, a plum assignment that the franchise has confidently anticipated since the opening of the new stadium." Denying Loria’s franchise All-Star Game exposure and revenue is the "harshest punishment available for the sin of persistently and greedily fouling the well for baseball in Miami." George: "Kick the Marlins to the back of the line of All-Star Game applicants as proof that fan abuse is a serious matter" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/15). 

WHAT CAN SELIG DO?
 ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote, "There are calls, in the aftermath of the Marlins' massive sell-off, for Major League Baseball to step in and force Loria to sell the team." But if MLB "really wanted to punish Loria, it wouldn't allow him to sell the team." With the "help of the union, it would force him to increase his payroll to a respectable level and then to sit in the middle of the destruction he has rendered to the south Florida market, rather than to allow him to sell the team and cash in." But given "how this has all played out, it's hard to imagine any conclusion other than this: Loria will pack up his wagon soon, his cash stowed away, and get out of town while the gettin's good" (ESPN.com, 11/14). In Chicago, Phil Rogers writes Selig should "block the proposed 12-player trade." It would "seal his legacy as one of baseball's greatest executives." Loria should be "ashamed of himself." He should be "sanctioned, if not stripped of his franchise." But Selig is "probably powerless to do much about the Marlins-Blue Jays deal because it is the exact same kind of trade the Red Sox made with the Dodgers in August" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/15). In Miami, Greg Cote writes, "Step in, baseball. Save us from Jeffrey Loria." Selig should "insist, for example, to the extent of his power, that Loria not be allowed to do now what he has done in the past, which is to cut the player payroll to embarrassing levels in order to pocket the profit" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/15). 

EASY DOES IT: ESPN.com's Jim Bowden wrote the trade "looks lopsided, but the Marlins did much better in this megatrade than people think." By acknowledging they "simply weren’t going to win with the team they had, they cleared out almost $185 million in payroll and moved a bunch of veterans in one fell swoop" (ESPN.com, 11/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Brian Costa wrote, "If you'll suspend your moral outrage for a moment, there is a sensible aspect to this move." The Marlins were a "last-place team in 2012, despite committing $191 million to free agents last winter." Trading their "best veterans for prospects isn’t an outlandish idea." From a financial standpoint, there has "never been more incentive to do so." Between revenue sharing and "soaring national television revenue," Loria can "probably turn a profit next year no matter how many tickets go unsold" (WSJ.com, 11/14). The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke noted the Marlins had one of the worst records in MLB last season, and said, "Why is everyone making such a big deal about this? What is so criminal about breaking up a bad, bad baseball team?” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 11/14).
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