Sale of Miami Marlins becoming a popularity contest

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; MLB former player Alex Rodriguez looks on from the sidelines before Super Bowl LI between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; MLB former player Alex Rodriguez looks on from the sidelines before Super Bowl LI between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

As Miami Marlins fans await the sale of their franchise, the process is beginning to resemble a beauty pageant. A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and the cool kids table.

For one year in 2003, Miami Marlins fans (then Florida Marlins fans) thought they had the owner they’d always wanted. Someone who knew how to build a team in the front office and on the field. In Jeffery Loria’s first season as Marlins owner, the team caught lightning in a bottle and won the World Series.

Fast-forward 15 years and Loria is looking to sell his ball club at a massive profit. After purchasing the team for $158 million in 2002, Loria recently accepted a bid valued at $1.3 billion. That’s billion, with a ‘B’. After years of mismanaging and ruining relations with the fans, Loria stands to turn a bathtub full of $100 bills kind of profit.

With only 30 MLB teams in existence, even the more lowly franchises are worth a pretty penny to would-be owners. With two groups publicly lobbying for the right to own the team, it appears that the decision will be based on popularity more than anything else. At some point, Major League Baseball will need to step-in and say “that’s enough”, because it’s starting to get a little embarrassing.

Recently, news broke that Miami native, and one-time baseball wunderkind Alex Rodriguez was extended an offer to join one of the bidding groups; and thank goodness her turned them down.

Rodriguez is less than a season removed from playing baseball for the Yankees, and about a year and a half from a public (and awkward/embarrassing) PED scandal. He seems to be finding his groove in his post-career endeavors, and likely did everyone a favor by saying “thanks but no thanks”.

Who are the teams?

Just because Rodriguez won’t be joining the group, doesn’t mean the issue of what led him to be asked doesn’t need to be explored. One can safely assume that his invitation was not based on his potential financial contribution. Despite signing two of baseballs most lucrative contracts, his piggy bank pales in comparison to the Romney’s.

At this point, you can assume that both competing parties have the capital necessary to purchase the team. If they didn’t, this competition couldn’t exist and the team would have already been sold to whoever had the dough. Because each side is logistically capable of purchasing the team, the competition is beginning to resemble high-school superlatives.

One one side, you have Jeb Bush and Derek Jeter. Bush will be providing the bulk of the requisite money for his party, but the headlining name is Jeter. A living legend, baseball would be thrilled to have “the Captain” directly involved again. He’s a fan favorite, and holds the potential to turn the franchise around just by tying his name to the organization. At a time when baseball is hurting for marketing, he might be able to revitalize a potential gold mine in the Miami Marlins.

On the other side, you’ve got the financing from the prominently wealthy Romney family. But as we established before, money isn’t enough to win this race. To add a little spice to their campaign, the group is adding any and everybody they can to the team.

As it stands, Tom Glavine and Dave Stewart have both joined the Romney team. Glavine is a 300 game winner and Hall of Fame inductee. Dave Stewart logged a 16 year career as a pitcher, before eventually becoming the GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

So what’s the reason?

The Romney/Glavine/Stewart group likely realizes they still don’t have enough prowess to overtake Derek Jeter. What to do? Add more star power. Approaching Alex Rodriguez is an obvious indication that they are looking to build a stable of investors whose names carry weight with Major League Baseball. The competition isn’t about money anymore, it’s about being the coolest group so that you’re invited to the party.

It remains unknown if the Romney group will be reaching out to any other former ballplayers that might make them look more attractive. If they do, it sets a dangerous precedent. While MLB teams rarely go up for sale, this might be the beginning of a reality TV show called “Franchise Movers”.

To this point, non-baseball celebrities have been kept out of the formula entirely. That’s an encouraging sign, but it is unclear how much longer that will last. Brad Pitt likes baseball, he did that movie anyway, that’s good enough. Pauly Shore appears to have a lot of time on his hands these days, too.

Next: Miami Marlins sign veteran Mike Aviles to minor league contract

The popularity arms race that is defining the Marlins ownership sale is concerning. Derek Jeter (and Jeb Bush, I guess) is obviously the best option available for the teams new ownership. Any other choice will be a failure on MLB’s part, and a desire to load the box with “cool kids”.