A quick question that I’ve been asking myself the last two days on the Miami Marlins being buyers during this year’s off season: Why am I so against it?

When I first read Moneyball, I loved the idea of Billy Beane explaining to Bud Selig all of the obstacles in his way as the general manager of a small market team while the Oakland A’s were winning twenty games in a row. More recently, the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays took advantage of the collective bargaining agreement of the time to create a sustainable line of young talent from which to draw.

And now we see the Florida Marlins reaping the benefits of not only hoarding income from MLB’s revenue sharing program, but also benefiting from $500 million in public funding for the team’s new stadium, by signing free agents that one would think ought to be out of the price range of a team that will receive a chance at extra draft picks through the competitive balance lottery.

Did they not also game the system in a fashion similar to the teams that I’ve admired? Why then, do I feel a twinge of resent with every rumour associating the Marlins to Albert Pujols and a bevvy of other free agents?

In many ways, the Marlins are merely making up for lost time with their spending. It seems unfair that I would’ve criticized their hoarding of revenue sharing money during previous seasons and then not praise them when they actually spend the money that they were saving.

I suppose my ire is saved for the other half of their windfall. Benefiting from a foolish municipality, even as the Securities and Exchage Commission investigates whether or not they did so illegally, when it has the potential to harm the well being of actual people is what’s bothersome to me.

Fleecing another GM on an even playing field is one thing. And even fleecing a politician is something that I’m not going to lose any sleep over. However, fleecing the representatives of the people of one of the hardest hit regions of the economic downturn when it could limit funding for other areas of need for its residents is no longer merely gaming the system for your own benefit. It’s gaming the well being of people so that a baseball team and, if Jeffrey Loria’s reputation stands for anything, an owner’s pockets will be the only parties to benefit.

So, this is why I have a problem with the Marlins spending spree. Game the system within Major League Baseball all you want. Take advantage of the structure that delivers benefits to your team at the expense of others. But don’t extend that practice into areas where it hurts actual people.

After all, it’s supposed to only be a game.

Comments (11)

  1. Pretty sure the good guys did exactly this in ’92 and ’93. Need an ace pitcher? ’91 WS MVP Jack Morris! Need a cleanup hitter? Hall of famer Dave Winfield! Need a leadoff hitter? Hall of famer Ricky Henderson! Us fans of the scrappy, low budget, cleverly managed Jays should have been cheering for the Phillies in ’93.

    But the latter is correct, the economic impact argument for public funding for stadiums has been disproven over and over again…

    • Ya know, the Jays’ bandwagon fans got so annoying that year, I DID cheer for the Phillies. Bought a hat and everything.

      Anyway, about the Marlins…

      Given the rather conspicuous lack of no-trade clauses in their newly acquired free agents’ contracts, I have a very hard time believing that the front office has any intention of permanently increasing payroll. If attendance at the new park and the on-field results don’t match expectations, look for the fire sale to start as soon as this year’s trade deadline.

  2. Its hard enough to be a Jays fan when I look at my phone bill every month. I can’t imagine being able to stay affiliated to a team that was quite literally stealing my tax dollars.

  3. Fleecing is Loria’s middle name. He hollowed out Montreal, then on to Miami. You don’t like it because you know he’s not gaming the system to win, he’s gaming the system to line his pockets.

    • Agree 100% prmaltais. There is a big difference between finding a competitive advantage in your line of business to robbing taxpayers again and again. I think the most disappointing part is that very few people call him out on it and if they did they would be seen as the bad guys.

  4. Loria is an ASS. That being said how did he rob the Miami-Dade Tax Payers? They said they wanted to keep a baseball team there he said it would cost this amount and they said well the amount it costs is worth keeping the team. Cities all of the time weigh these costs and sometimes come to the conclusion that they rather not pay for a stadium and let the team leave (Seattle Supersonics, Hartford Whalers, LA Football)

    The debate whether to finance a stadium went on for quite some time and the people there most likely knew how the politicians were going to vote for it and could have removed them from office if it truly went against the will of the people. Clearly the will of the people was to pay for a stadium and keep the team in town regardless of the cost.

    Did the politicians do the people a disservice by not pointing out that it will take __ number of years to pay off and that it will cost this and you will lose that if we build it. Yes they did do that disservice. But I do not blame Loria for that. He said he wanted a stadium and politicians caved to him. Good business decision on his part bad on the politicians. I feel bad for the people of South Florida because they got screwed by the politicians that are there to protect their rights. However I also hold them somewhat at fault because they should have kept the politicians in line and accountable.

    • I agree 100%, who wouldn’t turn down a brand new stadium for your team? Writing the stadium into the budget is the head scratcher…

  5. I agree with your argument Dustin, but is there really such a big difference between the financing of Miami Ballpark and the Sky Dome.

    I don’t know enough about the history of the Sky Dome to know how much the Blue Jays took advantage of public funding, particularly because I have no idea how much rent the Blue Jays paid for their lease, but it seems to me that they got a pretty good deal.

    What are the main differences between these deals?

  6. I don’t know why municipalities and governments pay for stadiums. Quite often, they’re in a state of having to balance budgets and cut services and programs, and then they go and shell out tens or hundreds of millions so that a billionaire’s pet project can have a nice place to call home. In Glendale, you’re seeing the worst of it, with the city council there now flushing even more money down the toilet to try to keep the Coyotes in town, because otherwise, their investment in an arena that no one else will use will turn from disaster into complete retardo-fuck.

    To be honest though, it’s not my money so I don’t really care. (in Miami at least, though every year here in Hamilton, we get hit with a tax increase while our inept City Council is now shelling out money for a new football stadium, which the billionaire owner got because he threatened to move the team) That said, what bothers me about the Marlins spending all this cash is that they could get into this draft lottery. I’m not sure why they would though – if their payroll is high, and since Miami isn’t a small market (right?), I don’t see how they’d qualify for that.

    As much as we may not like to admit it though, I do agree with MLB’s decision to cut the Jays off from “small-market” benefits. Acting like a small market team, especially with one of the richest owners in all of baseball, is the choice of Rogers. Don’t get me wrong, the approach to building this team has been phenomenal. I just hope that Rogers doesn’t pull the small-market/limited payroll strings when it’s time to re-up guys like Morrow, Rasmus and Lawrie. I don’t want to see them waste a ton of money on a long deal, but you have to admit that this off-season there are the types of free agents that won’t be available for a while.

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