Earlier this past season, I resolved to keep a positive outlook for the Marlins when the news of the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade hit the wires. Hot on the heels of that move came the news that Hanley Ramirez was packing for L.A. I told myself that it wasn’t a “fire sale” (do sportswriters have to share the same thesaurus? Why can’t it be a “deadwood dump” or a “Dollar General blue-light special”?). Along the way, we picked up Nathan Eovaldi and Rob Brantly, which, at the time, felt like solid moves (and still do). Still, things weren’t at all happy as the season wore itself out, and the rumors about Ozzie Guillen started piling up. I was disappointed at his firing, not because I thought he was the best choice as Manager, but because I felt he had been unfairly castigated in the press based on one poisonous article.
I’ve also felt for a long time that the biggest impediment to long-term Marlins success is the habit that Loria has of getting involved in player-level decisions. On several occasions, I drew a parallel between his behavior and that of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Using this forum as a soapbox, I highlighted the reasons for Loria to step back and let Larry Beinfest make player decisions, and why it would help the ballclub reach the success that the players were fully capable of reaching.
I’d like to officially rescind my comparison of Jeffrey Loria to Dan Snyder. It’s far too harsh a criticism of Mr. Snyder. With this week’s detonation of the Marlins’ roster, Loria has put himself at the same level as Frank McCourt.
The last couple of days have shown unequivocally that the Marlins’ ownership does not have a shred of respect for the city, its fans, Baseball, or common courtesy. I understand that the team is a business, and that decisions that get made are with an eye to a bottom line. However, the moves this week cross the line from cold business to naked greed.
Newspapers from coast to coast are publishing articles condemning this trade (This one from Tom Boswell is one of the best). These are not cut-and-paste articles recapping the opinions of the Miami Herald, but original pieces that reflect the understanding of the writers of how bad this trade is for the Marlins, and for Baseball. There are petitions galore, and suggestions that Bud Selig should take away any possibility of Miami hosting the all-star game.
Realistically, there isn’t much that can be done. Technically, the trade doesn’t break any written laws, but it certainly takes a flamethrower to any moral high ground that Loria might think he has.
It looks like we’re in for a long, painful road, Marlins fans. We’re entering what looks to be like an era similar to what the Dodgers, Orioles, and Redskins have long endured.
Perhaps the baseball world will join together and ostracize Loria, and somehow trigger some dormant sense of fairness that he is suppressing. He might wind up getting a cold shoulder from the other owners. Bud Selig may feel that the Expos deal used up the last of Loria’s political capital, and this deal may prove to be a bridge too far.
I will be hopeful that this sorry episode comes to a rapid end.