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Pretty good article from sportsline


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http://www.sportsline.com/columns/story/9075067/1

 

Stop us if you've seen this before ... or if you think it's 1998.

 

The Florida Marlins are being stripped for parts again, just as they were after winning the 1997 World Series. The names are different, and the owner is different, but the game is still the same. Stadium Blackmail, with your host, Ron Unction.

 

 

In '98, the guy with the wrench and a snootful of rent's-due-Jagermeister was Wayne Huizenga. This time, the parts of Click and Clack are being played by owner Jeffrey Loria, the same man who gave you the end through neglect and starvation of the Montreal Expos, and his mouthpiece, David Samson.

 

The latest piece of the transmission to be hauled off is second baseman Luis Castillo, who takes his three All-Star appearances to Minnesota. And with Juan Pierre and Paul LoDuca about to be pitched at the winter meetings, the Fish could be down to gills and scales by Christmas.

 

Samson calls it a market correction, which is a badly disguised euphemism for "the all-intern work force." The idea is to bring Miami and Dade County to its knees after more than a decade of saying, "Well, no, actually."

 

This, of course, will fail, because there's nothing that speaks "Don't care, don't plan to" quite like an extortion threat without the piece to back it up. Miami has been aggressively indifferent to the Marlins' plight, which is to make Miami build them a new stadium.

 

But here's the funny part. The Marlins are broadly letting it be hinted that their next location could be Las Vegas (mmmmpphhh) or Portland (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!).

 

Which brings us to Bud Selig's worst tactical error as commissioner, at least in the eyes of his partners:

 

Putting a team in Tampa.

 

You see, Vegas is a longshot, and everyone knows it. Mayor Oscar Goodman talks the talk to anyone who asks, but the central truth remains that the casino owners, who have all the money, are decidedly cool about building a huge edifice that will take money from them rather than bring it to them.

 

But Portland? Help me here, but who's kidding whom with this? Oregon is a conservative state, especially fiscally, and the people of Portland already have expended all the love they intend to give to the Trail Blazers.

 

And that's a shaky affair.

 

Portland is also a small TV market, and it has no stadium, and its downtown is already pretty compact with actual people, and spiritually, the people of Portland don't need baseball to decide that they're big league.

 

So where exactly does The Icy Glare Of Uncle Jeff have as an alternative? Montreal?

 

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This is where the Marlins are stuck, and this is why the Miami pols are calling chicken. Baseball's past two expansions, to Phoenix, Denver, Miami and Tampa/St. Petersburg, took out the final viable new cities, and Loria's work in Montreal took out Washington as the last abandoned town.

 

In other words, unless the Marlins want to go to St. Louis and become the new Browns, their choices are limited to standing and fighting, or going full turtle.

 

Now maybe Miami is a bad baseball market, although it seems to do all right with competitive teams to lure customers. Maybe the weather is too unpredictable, or the economy is too wonky, or the fans are waiting for the owners to stop yanking them around.

 

But they do know how to add, and here is the equation they've come up with:

 

"You're not getting a new park unless you put up most of the dough, and you can't threaten us because you really don't have anything we absolutely need, and besides, every time the team gets good, you fill out donor cards and make other teams better with the guys you wanted us to love with our wallets. Oh, and by the way, where you goin', Jeffy? You gonna sell this team back to the other owners like you did the Expos? In summation, how stupid do you think we are?"

 

Argue with that logic at your peril.

 

The only rebuttal from Loria/Samson is another estate sale. Josh Beckett ... Carlos Delgado ... Mike Lowell ... Castillo ... and then Pierre, LoDuca, and if that isn't enough, maybe even Dontrelle Willis.

 

Somewhere, that's good business, but not in baseball. I mean, it has been twice now, and the Marlins are still playing in Miami, at the football stadium, and the voters are laughing at them when they're not swearing at them.

 

We suspect Loria is one of those guys for whom the phrase from The Godfather, "A man in my position cannot be made to look ridiculous" has particular poignancy. But here he is, ridiculous again.

 

Oh, well. Enjoy the winter meetings, boys, and remember, you should keep your cell phones on vibrate. You never know when someone might need a used printer.

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Others have said it - I'll repeat it.

 

Loria put a competitive team on the field for 2 seasons following the WS triumph, giving SoFla a chance to buy in and support the team. The fans on this board did, but the public-at-large did not. He was left with no choice but to lower payroll, and we true fans will suffer as a result.

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I think the responsible thing would've been to not spend a bunch of money on Delgado and Leiter and LoDuca and whoever else, and basically stand pat & build through the minors. Don't increase payroll until you know for sure what's going on with the stadium.

 

Obviously the idea was that the efforts would be rewarded with a new stadium. When the other side rejected the deal, the team took their offer off the table, are resetting themselves for the next battle of negotiations.

 

 

The article is partially correct. Loria and MLB have clear site to go, but you'd be damned to think MLB will let South Florida munipulate the situation to their advantage. They've fought long and hard to put themselves in the favorable position they have when it comes to negotiating with municipalities. They aren't going to sacrifice that to save the Marlins.

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You're ignoring the fact that the Marlins were strung along by Manny Diaz and Joe Ariolla for two years as they negotiated in bad faith.

 

 

 

depends on who you speak to.

 

Everyone except Manny Diaz and Joe Ariolla. :D

 

Well, no one's given the Marlins a complete vote of confidence as far as good faith negotiations go.

 

There's only one victim in this whole thing, and it's the fans, not the Marlins, not Miami.

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You're ignoring the fact that the Marlins were strung along by Manny Diaz and Joe Ariolla for two years as they negotiated in bad faith.

 

 

 

depends on who you speak to.

 

Everyone except Manny Diaz and Joe Ariolla. :D

 

Well, no one's given the Marlins a complete vote of confidence as far as good faith negotiations go.

 

There's only one victim in this whole thing, and it's the fans, not the Marlins, not Miami.

 

exactly

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Others have said it - I'll repeat it.

 

Loria put a competitive team on the field for 2 seasons following the WS triumph, giving SoFla a chance to buy in and support the team. The fans on this board did, but the public-at-large did not. He was left with no choice but to lower payroll, and we true fans will suffer as a result.

 

 

Agreed once again. All of you people who are ripping on Loria need to finally face reality and look at this objectively. You all may have supported the team, but the board is a bad representation for the region as a whole. Not everybody is as gung-ho about the team as you all are.

 

If nothing else, there's always the Grapefruit League.

 

At least Marlins fans can all smile when the Mets somehow find a way to lose to the Braves... again. Two trades in which we raided their system of everything short of Jeff Keppinger and Lastings Milledge, and they're still not a lock for the division.

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Look, my view is that you can't keep ripping a team apart and expect the fans to come back. It takes a long time for a fan base like this one to recover from the fire sale of 1998. Our attendance numbers were increasing, so I don't see what the problem was. Unfortunately nobody was willing to give the fans time to show up.

 

In a market where you have pro football, pro basketball, pro hockey, and a strong college team, people have many different options besides baseball to go to. You have to earn the trust of the people before they're going to start shelling out cash to go to games.

 

The Heat have never had anything close to a fire sale. Even in the year where we started off like 0-16, we still managed to make the playoffs. Their fan base has increased a lot due to how competitive the team is, and the big names the team has brought in over the past few years. In my view, there isn't that big a difference between Dwayne Wade and Dontrelle Willis, both are very exciting young athletes that are a marketer's dream.

 

I do think that politics have been a major factor in destroying any chance for the Marlins to get a stadium. Loria had been proposing to put something like $200 million of his own money on the table. I believe that our biggest weakness was lack of support from the state legislature, due to a lack of Marlins influence in the northern part of the state.

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Loria had been proposing to put something like $200 million of his own money on the table.

 

No, $200 million in future rent payments from the team (or from whoever's owning the team decades from now)--not $200 million of his own money. According to Arriola, the figure for upfront funds was $30 million.

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Loria had been proposing to put something like $200 million of his own money on the table.

 

No, $200 million in future rent payments from the team (or from whoever's owning the team decades from now)--not $200 million of his own money. According to Arriola, the figure for upfront funds was $30 million.

True, but that's how stadium deals are done now a days. No team puts money up front. It is to everyone's benefit if it is the municipality that is buying the bonds, and using the private investors' funds to help pay them down. The rates are far cheaper than for a private interprise.

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I think the responsible thing would've been to not spend a bunch of money on Delgado and Leiter and LoDuca and whoever else, and basically stand pat & build through the minors. Don't increase payroll until you know for sure what's going on with the stadium.

 

 

I disagree. It's not like Loria wouldn't have done this anyway even if he HADN'T signed Delgado and Leiter. You believe that this fire sale is motivated by his expensive purchases of Delgado and Leiter at your own peril.

 

 

Others have said it - I'll repeat it.

 

Loria put a competitive team on the field for 2 seasons following the WS triumph, giving SoFla a chance to buy in and support the team. The fans on this board did, but the public-at-large did not. He was left with no choice but to lower payroll, and we true fans will suffer as a result.

 

 

One thing is to lower payroll, what is going on is different. This is a statement to fans and mostly to the politicians that says 'I control this', 'screw you' . He could have left two or three veterans (Beckett, Castillo) and fielded a good team and then dealt them at the end of the following year after the rookies had been acclimated to the majors. He would had still made money.

 

The fact is he is not going anywhere if the city, state, people, competing interests dont want him to go. He can be tied up in courts for ages. If he does not have what it takes to succeed (offer a consistently attractive product), sell.

 

You appear to suffer from a bit of a persecution complex if you honestly think the motive of this fire sale is to make any "statement to the fans." The guy's lost a lot of money because the dumb South Floridians don't know a good, exciting team if it came and bit them on the ass, and now he's trying to make some money back.

 

And if you seriously believe he can be "tied up in courts for ages" if he tries to move, you've got a rude surprise coming.

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It's not like Loria wouldn't have done this anyway even if he HADN'T signed Delgado and Leiter. You believe that this fire sale is motivated by his expensive purchases of Delgado and Leiter at your own peril.

 

When did I say that? The fire sale is due to not getting a stadium deal done. What I'm saying is it didn't seem smart when you need to kick $$ in for a stadium deal, to start dishing out large contracts. It probably wouldn't have changed things but it sure didn't help. And then if there IS a need to clear salary, you're not in nearly as bad of a situation.

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