I’ve thought of the 2013 Florida Marlins as the prologue to a really good book. Scratch that. They’re more like the first draft of a paper. You know it has problems; the punctuation is all wrong, there are typos, and the introduction is a mess. But there is also a flash of brilliance. The thesis statement is great, and really good primary sources tie your argument up with a tight bow. The problem is that the teacher reading the rough draft is Jeffrey Loria and he wants to write the third sentence of each paragraph. The Marlins clearly have the raw materials to build a winning team. There is a great young rotation, one of the best power hitters in baseball, a sure handed defensive shortstop and a future All-Star left fielder and lead off hitter. The primary sources are there, but the editor is dysfunctional.
I don’t want to write yet another article slamming Jeffrey Loria. Enough ink (soy and digital) has been spilt on that topic in the past year. Marlins fans have come to the conclusion that Loria is the biggest obstacle to short term and in the long term success. My intention here is to write a plea to Mr. Loria and Mr. Samson. A plea to let the baseball people do their job. Owners should own their teams, not run them. That is why they hire general managers.
American sports is littered with examples of owners trying to do a job they clearly can’t to do. George Steinbrenner and the saga of the oft fired Billy Martin and his best player Reggie Jackson. The Dallas Cowboys, since Bill Parcells left a vacuum so large that Jerry Jones filled with his own son and powerless “coach” Jason Garrett. Don’t forget the Oakland Raiders since Al Davis went senile and the incomparably bad New York Jets. So I ask a question: Mr. Loria, do you want to be remembered with the likes of Woody Johnson, Al Davis and Jerry Jones? The answer, as sad as it is, would be “yes.”
I understand you like being a “hands on” owner and take an interest in your team. But interference can be counterproductive (if not harmful) to management, coaches and the players. The Deadspin article from earlier this week is short but illuminating. It brings up some very good points I don’t think I need to go over. What is noteworthy is the light it sheds on the hiring and firing of Ozzie Guillen, and his replacement with Mike Redmond.
Hiring Ozzie doesn’t seem like a typical Loria move. Ozzie is too outspoken (He loves Fidel Castro!?!?!?!!), too large of a personality and far too independent a thinker to be someone that Loria would get along with. The front office (especially Larry Beinfest), the players, and other baseball people in the organization seemed to be fine with Ozzie, but he didn’t last a full year as skipper. I remember watching “The Franchise” on Showtime in 2012 and remember thinking that there was something supremely wrong with the team. The Heath Bell saga proved to be a catalyst for the conflict between Ozzie Guillen and Larry Beinfest against Loria and Samson. Good baseball logic would have meant an earlier dismissal of Bell, but Loria overrode good baseball logic.
Ozzie was fired and replaced by an easy and compliant figurehead. A manager who would not actually speak his mind. Mike Redmond is now Jeffrey Loria’s Jason Garret. That is the point we have reached. He is a rookie manager, trying to manage a bunch of young players making their way in the major leagues. Ultimately, his job is to comply with Loria (he who shall not be named), Samson, et al.
The Tino Martinez firing is an issue I’d rather not even write about, it gets me so angry.
Coming back around to where we started, the 2013 Marlins are a rough draft of a long research paper. I feel as though we could fix most of the basic mistakes. But Loria, as the editor of the metaphorical paper, only wants to meddle and write his own paper, even though knows he shouldn’t be writing for one of his students. The future is there for the Marlins to take, but the biggest obstacle is their owner.
So, Mr. Loria; be more like Dan and Art Rooney, and less like Woody Johnson. My brain, stomach and heart thank you.
A Marlins fan.