UPDATE: Commissioner Selig and Major League Baseball have approved the trade between the Marlins and the Blue Jays
Unless there’s 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 Marlins 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 Loria—and really before Henry, when Wayne Huizenga had owned the club—the cries for a new, baseball-only ballpark had been sought. In 2005, Samson began what some called the “Great Relocation Tour,” 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 Portland’s 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 Series—yet again—citing the need for a new ballpark to allow them to retain players. Unable to sign Ugueth Urbina and Iván Rodríguez, 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 Marlins’ brain-trust really was (and still is). Samson broadsided me, not by speaking of the Marlins directly but by disparaging a fellow club.
“Can you believe those [effing] Brewers?” Samson said, not hiding his disgust. “They'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 ‘average.’ I tell you, we’ll build it up and tear it down year after year if that’s what it takes to win a World Series.”
I was stunned. First off, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio was doing something positive for the fans after not being above .500 for years under Selig’s tenure. It was a smart move that, as we’ve 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 Marlins’ 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.
Of course, they didn’t.
Make sure and read the whole story here on Baseball Prospectus.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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