If you build it, they will come. Unless you live in Miami.
Yesterday's trade that saw the departure of any star power the Marlins had left (sans Giancarlo Stanton) was a shocker to everybody across the league. But should it have been?
We should have seen this move coming from a mile away. Not only do I not blame owner Jeffrey Loria, I agree with him.
This is not a defense of Loria's character, as he could be (and probably is) the slimiest of them all. But that doesn't matter. Whether he was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of fans or not, this move makes sense on a business sense alone.
Loria promised that with the taxpayer funded stadium would come packed games and a World Series caliber roster. When the fans fail to hold up their end of the bargain, how can he hold up his? $100 million payrolls cannot be supported with a stadium that's 70 percent full.
And that 70 percent isn't even truthful. Teams have very creative ways to up their gate receipts, meaning Marlins' games this year actually looked more like this. No ticket sales, no jersey sales, no concessions. It's like buying a $100,000 speed boat and having your salary cut to $30,000. Flat out unrealistic.
I have heard all the excuses that Marlins fans and citizens of the city had about poor attendance prior to 2012. All of those were met with this new stadium, and the results were the same.
So why is this outrage with Loria and the team growing? Is it a catalyst for the years of frustration and stealing of revenue sharing that we all know he's famous for? Maybe.
But put down your pitchforks for one second and listen to the opinion of an outsider. You guys just got lucky.
Many people see this trade and say, "There goes our best players. Good luck competing now."
That's fair, except for the fact that you never competed to begin with. The 2012 season featured an abysmal 69 win team. I mean really, think about this. The team just shed $160 million worth of the core of a 69 win team. That should be thrilling!
If anything, fans should be thanking Loria for saving them years of crippling finical turmoil, similar to last year's Boston Red Sox. They buried themselves in bad contracts and once the team stunk and the players lost their value, the team bit the bullet and shipped them off. The only difference is that Red Sox have the financial capabilities to rebuild faster, much impart to the income fans provide.
The sad realization here is that the Miami Marlins are a small market team. Empty stadiums and consistently low payrolls group them with the likes of the Padres and Royals of the league. The only difference is that with smart financial moves and some luck, they have the ability to change that like most teams cannot.
Miami has the population, culture and location to be one of the largest market teams around. But that doesn't happen overnight.
Can you blame the fans for the state of the Marlins franchise?
Loria took a gamble and tried to make it happen anyway. He saw the signing of free agent stars combined with the lure of Marlins Park as an opportunity for an instant turn around of the franchise. When neither panned out, his hand was forced to relegate the team back to their position of the past. That's why yesterday's events unfolded.
Loria is now faced with the task of building a franchise the hard way. Fan loyalty, core players and winning seasons. Keeping Stanton will help one of those, but the other two are headed in the wrong direction.
If Loria heads back to his old ways of squatting on a franchise just to rake in the revenue sharing cash, fans will no doubt have a reason to be upset. That's unethical.
Until then, Loria can't be blamed for not drowning the team in debt just to finish in last. That's just smart.