Jeffrey Loria is a Disgrace to Baseball
By now, you've heard the news of the Marlins' latest fire sale trade. Just like that, the three most recognizable players outside of Giancarlo Stanton (and not coincidentally, highest paid)- Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson have been shipped off to Toronto. Joining them are John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio, two other useful players (well, one and a half).
Now there are question marks with each of these players, and the Marlins did get a few useful prospects, mainly outfielder Jake Marisnick and pitcher Justin Nicolino. However, this is somewhat offset by the "major leaguers" received in the deal, which include homophobe Yunel Escobar, fifth starter Henderson Alvarez, and banjo hitter Jeff Mathis. Overall though, it's clear that the Marlins did not get full value for the heart of its roster.
This is not the first time Loria has pulled the rug out of a franchise. He was previously the owner of the Montreal Expos. He immediately started lobbying for a new stadium, and when he didn't get it, he sold the team to Major League Baseball in 2002 while simultaneously purchasing the Marlins from John Henry, who bought the Red Sox to complete the deal. That sale to the league was the beginning of the end for the Expos, who were in DC three years later.
The very next year the Marlins became World Series Champions for the second time, but just like 1997, the team was sold off piece by piece, albeit slower than six years prior. The team has not made the playoffs since though. Throughout that time, the Marlins have cried poor, sold assets (most notably Miguel Cabrera), and ran the organization as cheaply as possible, all while making huge profits. Despite that, Loria again whined for a new ballpark. Of course, said ballpark had to be paid for primarily with public funds, as Loria claimed the team couldn't afford to build it themselves.
Well, the whining finally worked in 2009, and construction of Marlins Park began. Overall, it cost the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County over $500 million. However, counting debt and interest payments, the cost will in the end amount to $2.4 billion. Oh, and remember how Loria claimed the team couldn't afford to build the park themselves? The SEC has been investigating the stadium deal, specifically the claims that public funds were necessary. The investigation is ongoing.
Marlins Park opened this year in all its gaudiness. Of course, this was a 72 win team in 2011, so how else can one make a big splash? By spending money that the Marlins suddenly found under the couch. Jose Reyes! Heath Bell! Mark Buehrle! Ozzie Guillen! Add that to Stanton, Johnson, and Hanley Ramirez and you had a recipe for a winner. What it was of course was a recipe for disaster. The dismantling began during the season with the trades of Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers (defensible given his decline and malcontentness) and Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit. Then Ozzie Guillen was fired after too much self-immolation, then Heath Bell dumped after his disastrous year. While taken separately, there was nothing wrong with those moves, but in hindsight, it was building to this. Of the core of the 2012 Marlins that I mentioned, only Stanton is left, and it's clear that's only because he still has a cheap contract.
I truly have no idea how anyone could be a Miami Marlins fan at this point. Yes, they have the two World Series titles, but other than 1997 and 2003, the team has treated them like dirt. For the last decade, that's been on Jeff Loria. This trade clinches him the title of Worst Owner in Baseball, and only Donald Sterling keeps him from being the undisputed Worst Owner in Sports. Last winter's spending spree turned out to be yet another illusion from the cheapest owner in the game. The most infurinating part about all this is it's highly unlikely the Commissioner's Office gets involved. Remember the 2002 deal that netted Loria the Marlins. He's in Bud Selig's cabal in a way say, Frank McCourt, wasn't. Thus, nothing will be done, which could be the deathknell for an already struggling baseball market. Are they willing to bet that what's left of the Marlins fanbase won't decide to stop taking this crap?
Jeffrey Loria is a disgrace to the game of baseball and to the concept of sports ownership. Making money certainly should be the goal, but the lack of even trying to win breaks any illusion that this man views his team as a public trust in any way. He should drummed out of baseball, but unfortunately, he's not going anywhere.