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I'm a business journalist and a fiction author. My novel Mute is available now from Silver Leaf Books.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marlins thumb their nose at Miami and embarrass baseball

Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria  hoodwinked Miami-Dade County politicians into financing his stadium and then he faked out baseball fans with the mirage of fielding a legitimate major league team.

The Marlins’ fire sale trade to Toronto essentially rids of the team of all the players making more than chicken scratch (by pro athlete standards). After being thrifty on salaries for years, Loria boosted payroll to $100 million this spring when the Marlins opened their new stadium. The team was a bust. Attendance was the lowest for any new MLB stadium of the past two decades. 

So Loria has reverted to his cheapskate ways. This trade would leave the team with a 2013 payroll of about $19 million. Most of that is owed to pitcher Ricky Nolasco in the final year of his contract, so you can bet the man with the most wins in Marlins history is next on the trade block.

Loria must have figured that if you’re going to be in last place, you might as well finish last with a resounding thud. And be terrible while spending the bare minimum to field a team. Anybody willing to play for coupons?

It’s not like Loria needs fans in the stands. Thanks to revenue sharing across MLB teams, the Marlins have a set stream of dollars flowing in. The stadium can be a ghost town and he still makes millions as long as he doesn’t overspend.

But what about putting out a competitive product for the taxpayers who funded your stadium? What about drawing thousands of fans to Little Havana and revitalizing the neighborhood with all the reinvestment that would follow?

Empty promises. I can’t think of a team that’s done less to deserve the support of its community.

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