Today, on national talk shows and in national baseball columns, people are asking: “What kind of a owner will be?”
As your friendly local columnist, let me say that question misses the mark entirely about Friday’s reports that Jeter’s group has . I don’t care just yet what kind of an owner Jeter will be.
I’m just happy is leaving.
Let me rephrase that.
I’M HAPPY LORIA IS LEAVING!
Let’s revel in that for a moment. In fact, here’s a roll of quarters, just in case Jeter and his bidding group’s leader Bruce Sherman come up a few bucks short of the reported $1.2 billion sales price. Let’s make sure Loria gets on the bus. Get him out of town. Send him to France to take the ambassadorship if that’s what it takes, merci beaucoup.
He’s toxic. He’s embarrassing. He turned off a generation of baseball fans. He didn’t assemble a winner since 2003. He pillaged the local coffers (thanks to Miami-Dade politicians) for a new stadium. He then squandered that public inheritance with a bad product.
It’s not like we’re plowing any new ground with any of those statements. But here’s something new and invigorating:
He’s moving off the stage.
Can they just yank him off the final few feet?
For the last decade, it has proved impossible to talk about what the Marlins were doing on the field, because you never got beyond discussing what they were doing off the field. Hirings. Firings. Meddlings. Bumblings.
Their off-field antics blotted out whatever they were doing on the field to the point that manager Don Mattingly has a functioning professional operation and and no one is paying much attention.
We’ll even accept the idea of Loria’s business genius to see him leave. He parlayed an initial $18 million investment in the into this unbelievably large $1.2 billion payday. Is this a great country or what? Give rich people a publicly funded stadium and watch them grow richer?
Miami businessman Jorge Mas was the people’s candidate as next owner. But Jeter and Sherman evidently put up the big money — and, yes, you have to say evidently because this story has been written with headlines that change for the past five months.
Let’s just hope that if Jeter and Sherman complete this sale, and get the requisite vote of baseball’s owners, that they understand what they’re buying.
This team, as presently built, isn’t going anywhere. The payroll is inflated — $95 million is contracted to eight players for next season as things stand. The minor league system is ranked the worst in baseball.
The business model means the Marlins are losing tens of millions this season, according to a source outside the organization who has seen the books. Yes, I know, stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
That leads us to the final point of what Loria leaves behind: A fan base that you can’t find with a microscope. It challenges annually for the worst attendance in baseball.
Yes, fans say they’ll return when Loria sells. They probably mean that, too. But Jeter and Sherman need to understand as they buy the team that only winning will bring fans back to baseball here.
That’s Loria’s true crime as Marlins owner. He never changed the narrative on him. He won in 2003. But only Seattle has been out of the playoffs for a longer time. Loria never redeemed his sins at the altar of victory.
New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft once threatened to move the team if public money didn’t come jingling for a new stadium. But everyone is too blinded by his five Super Bowl rings to care about that.
Loria hasn’t just lost for years. He’s lost in a bumbling way. He’s lost in a way that his cheapness, traded players and empty stadium were the story. He’s lost in a way that makes this sale news worth celebrating.
No one knows what kind of owners Jeter and Sherman will be. That is tomorrow’s story. For now, let’s take a deep breath and appreciate the moment sports fans have been dreaming about for years in South Florida.
Loria is leaving the stage.
Wait, let’s try that again to reflect how everyone feels.
LORIA IS LEAVING THE STAGE!!
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