Reporting from the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville....
The glove. Itâs personal. Itâs important. For players at the highest levels of the game, theyâll tell you itâs an extension of their hand that is cherished and protected as if it was their child. While designs have changed, the materials havenât deviated too far from the tried and true of leather.
But, at the Baseball Winter Meetings, I was introduced to something that could be the next generation of glove. It has no leather, but instead the key surface materials are made of nylon microfiber giving the glove a near suede look and feel while being light. And because itâs not leather, the glove retains its form without âpancakingâ over time as the glove ages and breaks in. To top it off, a custom mold of your hand is used that creates a seamless fit when closing it.
You know you want it. You have to try it. But, if you do, better bust out the wallet. Cost of this next generation of glove manufactured by Carpenter Trade Company is between $600 and $800. Check out more details at CarpenterTrade.com
Nashville - Itâs hard to imagine it being so cold in Miami for the few diehard Marlins fans out there to want skiwear fashion, but the folks at New Era caps have created such a thing. Fresh for the Fall product line, New Era is offering, yesâŚ a Miami Marlins tuque. Get off, you hoser Jeffery Loria!!!
Maury Brown will be reporting daily from the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville for The Biz of Baseball, Baseball Prospectus, and Forbes.
An annual report released as part of Major League Baseballâs drug program shows that of 5,136 tests for performance-enhancing drugs and stimulants, a total of 18 tested positive, or less than 1 percent (0.35%) during the 2012 season. While 18 players tested positive for banned substances, not all served suspensions as a first offense for stimulantsÂ only results in follow-up testing. Only at the time of second violation does game suspension occur with that resulting in 25 games. Two players served suspensions for stimulants as part of this past seasonâs testing. Baltimore Orioles shortstop Ryan Adams, who at the time was on the roster of the Triple-A Norfolk Tides was suspended on Nov. 2, and just this past Tuesday, Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz joined him. Both players will see their suspensions served beginning next season.
There were a total of 7 positive tests for performance-enhancing substances that resulted in discipline, with four accounting for testosterone that resulted in 50 game suspension. Three were announced suspensions during the course of the year (San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal; Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon, and; San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera), but the fourth was not announced. That now appears to be Manny Ramirez who retired in early 2011 to avoid a 100-game suspension for a second violation of the drug policy. After sitting out the entire 2011 season, a deal was reached with MLB and the MLBPA to allow his reinstatement and to serve just 50 games rather than 100 after signing with the Athletics.
In terms ofÂ the other three PED violations that resulted in discipline, they were one for Clostebol (Philadelphia Phillies infielder Freddy Galvis, 50 games), one for Tamoxifen (free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd, 50 games), and one for Clenbuterol (San Francisco Giants pitcher Guillermo Mota who received a 100 game suspension for a second PED violation. His first was Nov 1 of 2006 while with the Mets).
As part of the new labor agreementâ and a historic first, the leagueâthe sides agreed to and conducted blood testing for human-growth hormone (hGH) this past season. The tests were all conducted during Spring Training, and for 2012, there was no in-season blood draws for testing. Of the 5,136 tests, there were 1,181 blood tests for hGH. The league and union are nearing changes to the policy that could be announced shortly, and with it, it is possible that testing during the regular season could occur as the current labor agreement states that the sides will look into the âpossibility of implementing in-season testing.â This will also be the first full offseason in which random offseason testing will occur. The drug policy does not state how many tests for hGH can occur during that time. The drug policy states that the blood draws âwill be tested for the presence of hGH only.â
Below is a breakdown of what substances resulted in discipline:
Adverse Analytical Findings
Performance Enhancing Substances
Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs), which allow a player to use banned substances based upon approved medical needs, totaled 119 in the report, up from 111 last year when there were 105 were for attention deficit disorder, two for hypertension, one for hypogonadism, one for narcolepsy, and two for postconcussion syndrome.
Theraputic Use Exemptions (TUEs)
Attention Deficit Disorder
There are other changes that have taken place with this being the first report after the new labor agreementâŚ
Gone is Bryan Smith as the independent drug program administrator. He was replaced with Jeffrey M. Anderson.
This is the first season in which the exact substance that a player was suspended for was released.
Starting with the 2012-2013 off-season, players will be subject to random unannounced testing for hGH.
Source: Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Player's Association
When it comes to baseballâs offseason, you could argue the end of November and into Â December leading up to the Holidays are the most active outside the diamond. The Winter Meetings begin December, End of Year payrolls and info on any clubs that break the Luxury Tax ceiling take place. In late November, itâs postseason shares, and the MLB Players Association having their Executive Board meetings.
To the MLBPA, yesterday they announced their biennial player-officer elections, and with it, there are some new and old faces.
Returning to their posts as Association Player Representativesâthe highest elected positions in the union for the playersâ are Curtis Granderson of the Yankees and Jeremy Guthrie from the Royals.Â Justin Masterson of the Indians was elected Alternate Association Player Representative, joining returnee Carlos Villanueva who is currently a free agent.
Chris Capuano of the Dodgers returns as one of two Pension Committee Representatives to serve alongside newcomer Craig Breslow of the Red Sox.Â Returning as Alternate Pension Committee Representatives are Ross Ohlendorf and Kevin Slowey, both of whom are currently free agents.
In accordance with the Unionâs Constitution and By-Laws, elections for Association Player Representatives and Alternates and Pension Committee Representatives and Alternates are held during Executive Board meetings in even-numbered years.Â Each of the above players will serve a two-year term meaning the next time election results are announced will be in late Nov. of 2014.
The Winter Meetings donât start until next week, but that doesnât mean job opportunities in baseball arenât here today. The following via MLB.com may be of interest to you seeking work in MLB. - Maury Brown
MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball, is seeking stats stringers to cover these clubs in 2013 and beyond:
Baltimore/DC (both clubs)
Oakland/SF (both clubs)
Stats stringers are responsible for digitally scoring games from the MLB ballparks, which provides the data used in the live content applications on MLB.com, including Gameday and MLB.TV, real-time highlights and text alerts, and by our business partners. This is a perfect part-time job for a diligent, responsible employee who happens to be a big baseball fan.
Arrive at the ballpark no later than one hour prior to the scheduled start time;
Double-check and verify all pre-game information: rosters, umpires, weather conditions, etc.;
During the game, enter the results of every pitch and game event (plays, substitutions, etc.) using our proprietary software and coding language;
Work closely with our game-night support staff (via AOL Instant Messenger) to ensure proper scoring of all game events and accuracy of data;
After the game, enter all post-game information: winning and losing pitcher, saves, holds, time and attendance
Validate all stats in software box score against the official box score provided by the Official Scorer, and print out a final box score and game text for the club PR staff
Previous experience (including pressbox exposure) with a professional or college sports team, preferably baseball;
Exceptional (and demonstrable) knowledge of baseball and how to score a baseball game;
Strong computer proficiency (Windows OS and Windows-based software) and the ability to quickly learn and operate new software;
Regular availability to attend games in-person as required by the schedule: weekdays, nights and weekends;
A "team player" with a great attitude, including but not limited to a willingness to make and learn from mistakes and the ability to work closely and cooperatively (and take direction from) our game-nightÂ staff;
Professionalism. It's a fun job and we pay people to watch baseball, but it's also an important job and we want people who will take the responsibility seriously.
(New stringers undergo an 8-10 week correspondence training program, and co-score several practice games in the ballpark with a returning stringer, before scoring any games solo in the ballpark.)
Former MLBPA Executive Director Marvin Miller passed away today at 95, but long before today, I have been thinking of Miller. His presence on professional sports has been so indelible that even if he was âbefore my timeâ his shadow has been felt as greatly today as it was yesterday. All you have to do is look at how labor negotiations between the NFLPA and NFL, NBPA and NBA, or more recently the NHL and NHLPA to feel Millerâs reach. As the great Italian philosopher George Santayana said, âThose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.â At the time of the NFL lockout, Roger Goodell and the owners seemed to forget that. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith met with Miller on more than one occasion before and during the lockoutâŚ clearly, De knew his history.
Miller was selected by the players as their union head in 1966 and led the players until 1982.Â From the beginning, heÂ set about toÂ do the unthinkable: challenge MLB on the grounds ofÂ labor law, something he was exceptionally versed in during his time as a negotiator for the United Steelworkers union. The owners, and then commissioner Bowie Kuhn were incensed. Instead of being judge, jury, and executioner, now they had to deal with this guy and the playersâ then general counsel, Dick Moss.
Miller delved out huge dose of the truth and the owners repeatedly spit it out. It created an acerbic, volatile relationship in the labor relationship that created three strikes during his tenure.
Maury Brown: Can you recall what the first meetings between you and Miller were about once you were installed as general council?
Dick Moss: Well, the first thing that was to be done after Marvin was retained was the negotiations regarding the Pension Agreement. In December, 1966, there was a Board meeting to be held in Pittsburgh. Marvin invited me to that meeting and introduced me to the playersâ representatives at that time, as the new general counsel.
Brown: For those that may not understand the differences between how the relationship between management and labor were in early years of the Players Association to how they are today, can you go over how some of the initial disputes, such as managementâs issues over the playersâ pension plan in 1966?
Moss: There was a general issue that they were accepting it as a labor union â accepting the legitimacy of it. It was as if they were treating it as if we were meddlers â outsiders in the business of baseball. Thatâs not right.
I remember in one of the early meetings, Joe Cronin, who was then the President of the American League, became very upset when we were talking about scheduling problems. Joe said, âThis is none of the playersâ business. This is our business.â And he got up and walked out of the meeting. It was little things like that that would happen.
Brown: If there was a word to describe what management probably thought of Miller and you when it was clear you would not be simply âgoing along for the rideâ, what do you think it was?
Moss: Well, Marvin tells the story about his first involvement when he went to the All-Star Game in 1966 â I think it was with Joe Cronin again. It was just after it was announced that he was the new Executive Director of the Playersâ Association. And Joe said to him, âMarvin thereâs something youâve got to remember. Players come and go, but the owners are there forever.â
It wasnât until 2002 that the union and league learned that working collectively would be the only way to get to labor peace. That while there would be differences, working together as partners was going to be in everyoneâs best interest and all would reap the benefits (it's not surprising that MLB's extensive growth has come during labor peace). The NFL, NBA, and NHL still arenât there yet.
So, itâs no surprise that a wave of comments have spilled forth today about Miller. Those on the union side of things were lengthy in their feelings.
Â âIt is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of Marvin Miller,â said current MLBPA Executive Director, Michael Weiner. âAll players â past, present and future â owe a debt of gratitude to Marvin, and his influence transcends baseball. Marvin, without question, is largely responsible for ushering in the modern era of sports, which has resulted in tremendous benefits to players, owners and fans of all sports.
âIt was an honor and a privilege to have known Marvin. The industry has never witnessed a more honorable man, and his passion for helping others and his principled resolve serve as the foundation of the MLBPA to this day. On behalf of all Major Leaguers and MLBPA staff, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to Marvinâs daughter, Susan, son, Peter, their families and Marvinâs many friends and admirers. Marvin was a champion among champions, and his legacy will live on forever.â
âMarvin possessed a combination of integrity, intelligence, eloquence, courage and grace that is simply unmatched in my experience,â said former MLBPA Executive Director, Don Fehr, who worked under Miller as General Counsel from 1977-82 and is now mired in the lockout of the National Hockey League as the Executive Director of the NHLPA. âWithout question, Marvin had more positive influence on Major League Baseball than any other person in the last half of the 20th century. It was a rare privilege for me to be able to work for him and with him. All of us who knew him will miss him enormously.â
âMarvin exemplified guts, tenacity and an undying love for the players he represented,â said NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. âHe was a mentor to me, and we spoke often and at length. His most powerful message was that players would remain unified during labor strife if they remembered the sacrifices made by previous generations to make the game better. His passion for the players never faltered, and men and women across all sports are in a better place thanks to his tireless work.â
âMarvin was the definition of a leader,â said NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth. âBy challenging team owners and league commissioners and successfully protecting and enhancing the rights of players, he proved that labor unions were necessary in sports.â
On the ownersâ side, Commissioner Selig was more Spartan in his statement:
âMarvin Miller was a highly accomplished executive and a very influential figure in baseball history.Â He made a distinct impact on this sport, which is reflected in the state of the game today, and surely the Major League players of the last half-century have greatly benefited from his contributions.Â On behalf of Major League Baseball and the 30 Clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Marvinâs family, friends and colleagues.â
Yet, for all Miller meant, not only to baseball, but to every other professional sports league where there is union representation, he has yet to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The man that brought about independent arbitration, minimum wage, advancement in benefits, Â and most importantly, free agency, breaking the Reserve Clause, in 1975 when Andy Messermith and Dave McNally held out renewing contracts and arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled in their favor, is not in the HOF while the likes of a bumbling Bowie Kuhn, is. That highlights the flaws in those that have comprised the voters in different committee formats over the years that have clearly, gotten it wrong.
When Jay Jaffe interviewed him in 2008 for BP, Miller said, â[T]hey abolished that [first Veterans Committee I was eligible for in 1982] which had kind of been scandal-ridden in the sense that the only way they could elect anybody was to engage in vote trading. You support my guy and I'll support your guy, and out the window went merit. So they abolished that committee and that was understandable. Then they created a new one, this time composed of all of the living members of the Hall of Fame. For the first time I was put on a ballot in 2003, and my vote was far short of the 75 percent needed, and that was OK.â When the committee structure changed, it was again a case of owners that Miller had raised the ire of having a key stake in blocking his induction.
Miller added, âNine out of 12 people were management people and what few if any people have commented about is that among the nine people...â
Jaffe: Three legacies? [Bill DeWitt Jr., Andy MacPhail, Bill Giles]
Miller: No, three who were among the leaders of the collusion movement against players [DeWitt, MacPhail, and John Harrington]. Let's remember that I was the negotiator of the anti-collusion language, and let's also remember that I was the lead witness in the collusion case against the owners. As you may know, there were two separate cases, and both impartial arbitrators rejected the sworn testimony of these now-former general managers that there was no such thing as collusion. In other words, without even using the word "perjury," in effect that's what two impartial arbitrators found, that the testimony before them represented. And these were to be my judges. The whole thing is absurd.
âAnd then there are members of the press who vote who are the newspaper reporters wing of the Hall of Fame,â said Miller. âWhile some of those might vote for me many would not. There were a lot of them who were,Â if not in the ownersâ pockets, at least on their laps. There are the radio and TV announcers who interestingly enough in almost every case cannot be announcers in radio and TV unless the clubs that they are telecasting or broadcasting agree. They hold the veto power over them.â
So, it should come as no surprise that Miller, ever a man to stand on principles over horse trading, took the unprecedented stand in 2008 of telling the Hall of Fame to, basically, kiss off.
Paradoxically, I'm writing to thank you and your associates for your part in nominating me for Hall of Fame consideration, and, at the same time, to ask that you not do this again... The anti-union bias of the powers who control the Hall has consistently prevented recognition of the historic significance of the changes to baseball brought about by collective bargaining.
As former executive director of the players' union that negotiated these changes, I find myself unwilling to contemplate one more rigged Veterans Committee whose members are handpicked to reach a particular outcome while offering a pretense of a democratic vote. It is an insult to baseball fans, historians, sports writers, and especially to those baseball players who sacrificed and brought the game into the 21st century. At the age of 91 I can do without a farce.
And yet today when I reached former commissioner Fay Vincent and asked whether he should be inducted, he simply replied, âHe should be in.â
He should be. If youâre going to allow executives to be part of the Hall of Fame, and in my opinion, they should, then Miller should be there. In the sports world, itâs criminal that he didnât make it in his lifetime, and it will be bittersweet if he somehow makes it posthumously.
But, I reflect more humanly on Miller today with his passing. True, he still held to his early unionized ways, something that seems out of touch in the here and now (he was dead set against drug testing, etc. in baseball). But, even in his elderly state, he was one of the smartest people that you could talk to. He had this incredible ability to take complex labor matters and present it in a wholly digestible format, which was one of his endearing strengths.
Beyond that, there was his life, and if you knew him, his love of tennis was one of them. Beyond being with his wife, I hope that somewhere in the afterlife, heâs playing tennis with Arthur Ashe. For those of us here, at least for every player that collects a paycheck in professional sports, one can hope all heads are bowed in respect for Millerâs passing. Until heâs inducted into the Hall of Fame, I and others will keep his fire burning. Farewell, Marvin.
While the Miami Marlins took on more than $200 million in total player payroll less than a year ago at the Baseball Winter Meetings, they ended the season moving Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante (Tigers), and Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers). On Tuesday evening they made that look like childâs play by moving Jose Reyes (2013:$10M, 2014:$16M, 2015:$22M, 2016:$22M, 2017:$22M, 2018:$22M club option - $4M buyout), Josh Johnson (2013:$13.75M), Mark Buehrle (2013:$11M, 2014:$18M, 2015:$19M, plus a $4M deferred signing bonus), John Buck (2013:$6M), and Emilio Bonifacio who is arbitration eligible this year and (get this) $4 million in cash to the Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jeff Mathis, minor league pitchers Justin Nicolino and Anthony Desclafani and minor league outfielder Jake Marisnick. All told, the Marlins stripped $163.75 million off the books and that doesnât include the option year or buyout on for Reyes, plus what Bonifacio will get in salary arbitration this year.
That deal was approved, but the conversation lingers.
Today on 790AM/FM 104.3 The Ticket in Miami, Maury Brown talked about the deal, the Marlins finances, and some personal history with one of their execs. Take a listen.
CLICK TO LISTEN TO THE RADIO SEGMENT WITH MAURY BROWN BELOW
When market for media rights exploded, beginning with the Big Ten and then eventually making its way to MLB via the Texas Rangers and Angels (both $3 billion deals), questions surfaced asking, what would YES Network be worth? Today, that answer became closer to reach.
News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) and Yankee Global Enterprises today announced an agreement that calls for News Corporation to acquire a 49 percent equity stake in the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES), which launched in 2002.Â Reports around the deal prior to the announcement set YESâ value at $3 billion. The YES Network delivers exclusive live local television coverage of New York Yankees baseball and Brooklyn Nets basketball, as well as sports-related programming. Â
The media rights agreement is subject to Major League Baseball approval.Â With News Corp saying that the investment is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.
âWe've long been a believer in the unique appeal of sports entertainment. Partnering upstream with rights holders is even more important today in the dynamic media marketplace in which we compete.Â This is a tremendous opportunity to enhance News Corporationâs industry-leading portfolio of sports properties, while also strategically re-entering the New York market,â said James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, News Corporation. âThe YES Network represents the gold standard for regional sports networks and is a pioneer in sports media.Â We look forward to working with Yankee Global Enterprises, the networkâs management team, and all of our partners to build on a decade of success and take the YES Network to even greater heights.â
Hal Steinbrenner, Chairman of Yankee Global Enterprises, said, âThis transaction underscores the great value we and our partners created in establishing the YES Network and sets the network on the path for even greater achievements in the future.Â We are excited to have News Corporation as a partner.Â Its stature and acumen in sports broadcasting on a global scale is unmatched.Â We look forward to the many opportunities for growth and development that this investment by News Corporation will bring to YES.Â The Steinbrenner family expects to have a continuing, long-term ownership stake in the YES Network and we will continue our yearly commitment of fielding a championship caliber team for decades to come.â
The announcement of the minority purchase of YES ties in with news that FOX, which is owned by News Corp, is looking to launch an all-sports network that would compete with ESPN. As first reported by Bloomberg, News Corp. last year secured rights to the Pac-12 Conference and Big-12 Conference games and owns 20 regional sports networks. The company in October won TV rights to soccerâs World Cup in 2018 and 2022. FOX Sports is also working to secure a mega-deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers which could eclipse any of the sports media deals that have been recently brokered in baseball.
For those wondering if Yankees games would become part of any FOX cable network to take on ESPN, think again. The YES Network also announced a media rights agreement that will keep Yankees baseball on the YES Network through 2042.Â
But, while the agreement is to keep the Yankees on YES, thereâs nothing to say that eventually News Corp could not eventually become a majority owner. According to todayâs announcement after three years, News Corp may acquire an additional stake in the YES Network that could bring its ownership to 80 percent, at which time Yankee Global Enterprises would retain a significant minority stake in the network.
Currently, YES Network airs live Yankees and Nets games to approximately 9 million households in the teamsâ television territory in the New York area.Â Outside of the New York area, the YES Network also distributes a variety of national programming to millions of homes across the country.Â
It shouldnât be surprising that on Monday, Commissioner Selig approved the blockbuster trade between the Marlins and the Blue Jays (see details on why at the bottom of the article here on Baseball Prospectus). The move by the Marlins, widely panned as it is seen a salary dump after their new ballpark just opened, has taken longer than most to approve. While Selig approved the deal, he did make it clear that he was mindful of how the deal would affect the Miami fan base. It should also be noted that while he was given assurances from the Marlins that they will be committed to a âlong-term winning teamâ, they also had verbal agreements with Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Giancarlo Stanton. But, itâs not only the league that paid close attention to the trade. Certainly the MLB Players Association did, as well, even though they did not release a statement on the trade.
The problem is, Jeffrey Loria, David Samson and others in the organization have ostensibly poisoned the well in Miami, and in less than their second season in the new market. Thatâs because theyâve not exactly been the best stewards of an MLB club during their time in baseball. Whatâs occurred is lowering future value of the club, but the problem is, thereâs really nothing that Selig could have done to stop the dealâŚ other than to never let them own a club in the first place.
Hereâs Seligâs statement on the trade:
"Since Tuesday, I have carefully reviewed the proposed transaction between the Miami Marlins and the Toronto Blue Jays.Â I asked our Baseball Operations Department and our Labor Relations Department to compare this proposed transaction with similar deals.Â I also consulted with experienced baseball operations executives to get their input regarding the talent involved in this transaction.
âAfter a thorough examination of this information, it is my conclusion that this transaction, involving established Major Leaguers and highly regarded young players and prospects, represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both Clubs, does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion.Â It is, of course, up to the Clubs involved to make the case to their respective fans that this transaction makes sense and enhances the competitive position of each, now or in the future.
âI am sensitive to the concerns of the fans of Miami regarding this trade, and I understand the reactions I have heard since Tuesday. Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities and I fully understand that the Miami community has done its part to put the Marlins into a position to succeed with beautiful new Marlins Park.Â Going forward, I will continue to monitor this situation with the expectation that the Marlins will take into account the sentiments of their fans, who deserve the best efforts and considered judgment of their Club.Â I have received assurances from the ownership of the Marlins that they share these beliefs and are fully committed to build a long-term winning team that their fans can be proud of.â
After the deal was finalized, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria certainly played up how losing 93 games factored into his thinking, even though the club had been gutting players off the roster prior to the fire sale with the Blue Jays.
âWe've finished in last place the past two years, and that is unacceptable to our fans, to us as an organization, and to me,â said Loria. âWe want to get back to our winning ways, and we want a winning baseball team for our fans. It's incumbent on us to make the changes necessary to make us a winner again.â
âIt may not happen overnight,â he added. âBut with the players we acquired in the second half of last season, coupled with the infusion of players we are acquiring now, we will be returning to Marlins Baseball: high energy and hungry.â
âIt may not happen overnight.â That ought to go over well with season ticket holders and fans. Itâs going to be a long, cold winter for Marlins fansâŚ again.
UPDATE: Commissioner Selig and Major League Baseball have approved the trade between the Marlins and the Blue Jays Unless thereâs a dramatic turn of events, the likelihood that the blockbuster trade that sees the likes of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and others going from the Miami MarlinsÂ to the Toronto Blue Jays is going to go through.
If you were looking at just this deal and nothing else, it might raise high interest, but not ire, the latter of which has been in high doses regarding the Marlins since news of the deal got out last Tuesday. The reason is the history of Jeffrey Loria and David Samson in Major League Baseball.
Today on Baseball Prospectus, I go over it from top to bottom (see Marlins Ownership and a History Lesson in Greed). Some of the story has been told before, but I personally recount a discuss a meeting with David Samson that speaks a lot to how the club functions. From the article:
Loria was the luckiest guy on the planet shortly after this situation unfolded. Following the purchase, the Marlins won the 2003 World Series. Prior to Loriaâand really before Henry, when Wayne Huizenga had owned the clubâthe cries for a new, baseball-only ballpark had been sought. In 2005, Samson began what some called the âGreat Relocation Tour,â going to places like San Antonio and Portland where there had been interest in relocating the Expos when they were up for relocation. I was part of Portlandâs effort to land a team, and on a cold, rainy winter day, baseball boosters in the city and I hosted Samson in early January of 2006.
The club had begun dismantling the team that had won the 2003 World Seriesâyet againâciting the need for a new ballpark to allow them to retain players. Unable to sign Ugueth Urbina and IvĂĄn RodrĂguez, they left in free agency. They traded Derrek Lee to the Cubs for Hee-Seop Choi and pitcher Mike Nannini. They did sign Mike Lowell to a four-year deal, but it had a provision within it where Lowell could opt out of the final two years of the deal if no new ballpark was built for the Marlins. As I walked over to Samson, who was sporting his gaudy new World Series ring, I mentioned (naively, it seems in retrospect given recent moves by the club) how the retention of talent must be difficult without their own ballpark. It was also here that I realized just how scary the Marlinsâ brain-trust really was (and still is). Samson broadsided me, not by speaking of the Marlins directly but by disparaging a fellow club.
âCan you believe those [effing] Brewers?â Samson said, not hiding his disgust. âThey're giving away tickets to the last game of the season because they finished over .500. How [effing] stupid is that? Giving away tickets for being âaverage.â I tell you, weâll build it up and tear it down year after year if thatâs what it takes to win a World Series.â
I was stunned. First off, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio was doing something positive for the fans after not being above .500 for years under Seligâs tenure. It was a smart move that, as weâve seen, has endeared him to the community, which in turn has allowed the Brewers to draw attendance totals over 3 million more than once now (2008: 3,068,458; 2009: 3,037,451; 2011: 3,071,373) and has helped them be competitive. In terms of the tearing down and building back up of the Marlinsâ roster, it was then that I realized that only quick fixes would ever do for the organization. That the ballpark was not going to really be part of it. That what Wayne Huizenga had done with his fire sale after the 1997 World Series was not limited to just Wayne Huizenga. This was something that seemed to be embraced by Loria and Samson as well. But that was 2003. It was possible that if and when a new stadium did come about, things might change.