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NBC SportsTalk: Should Bud Selig block the Marlins-Blue Jays trade?

Nov 15, 2012, 8:12 AM EDT

Bud Selig AP AP

I’ve seen some random writing on the Internet and heard some random chatter on talk radio about the possibility of Bud Selig stepping in and blocking the Marlins-Blue Jays trade on some “best interests of baseball” grounds. But let’s be clear about this: he won’t do it, and he probably shouldn’t.

Let’s take the “shouldn’t” first: He shouldn’t because there are situations where a trade that looks exactly like this one from a baseball perspective — a massive payroll dump for some young cheap talent — is legitimate for a team that wants to jump-start a rebuilding project. If you have expensive veterans and you’re not going anyplace, the best way to deal with it is to get rid of the expensive veterans. Cut ‘em if you have no other choice, but if you can get a return for them, go for it, start fresh and move on.

The thing that makes this particular trade odious cannot be seen on the paper setting forth the terms of the transaction. The deal itself is not so unorthodox or insane that it requires intervention.  Rather, it is the background of Jeff Loria and the Marlins and the b.s. and baloney he has dumped on Marlins fans and the city of Miami for a decade that makes this all so vile, and that’s all outside of the terms of the deal.

That leads to the reason why Bud Selig won’t block this trade, even if there were other good reasons to do it.  He won’t do it because Selig stepping into this mess would represent rank hypocrisy.  Baseball rewarded Loria for killing a franchise in Montreal. Baseball for years allowed Loria to pocket revenue sharing money rather than use it on his team to make them better and, if their financial documents hadn’t been leaked to Deadspin, likely still would allow it.  Baseball has strongly encouraged owners to blackmail cities into building them publicly-funded stadiums. Indeed, it has actively discouraged efforts by owners to pay for their own ballparks.

Baseball will not block or, I presume, even criticize this trade because it is the logical product of the incentive system it itself has created. The way Loria has built up hope, taken taxpayer money and then trashed his team and crapped on his fan base may be rather extreme and possibly even disturbing for the people in the Commissioner’s Office, but given the way Loria has been incentivized for the past 10-15 years, it should not be shocking to them.  And for Major League Baseball to now, after all of this time, step in and object to the way Jeff Loria is mismanaging his franchise, would be a repudiation of policies that it has long encouraged among the ownership class, and if there is one thing that Bud Selig doesn’t do it’s reverse himself when it comes to this kind of stuff.

I was on NBC SportsTalk with Erik Kuselias last night and we talked about this a bit:

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  1. Jack Marshall - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    It’s hypocrisy to finally reject wrongful conduct after encouraging it? It’s hypocrisy to finally to do the right thing in a leadership position after doing the wrong thing fdor too long? I don’t think so.

    • paperlions - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:38 AM

      No, it is pretty much the definition of hypocrisy. Not unlike MLB and baseball writers fawning over increased offense and laughing at jokes about steroid use for over a decade (thereby encouraging players to use it, not just turning a blind eye, it was actively encouraged by teams)…and then suddenly demonizing the very thing they had encouraged people to do and instantly absolving themselves (baseball, media members, and the public) as soon as cherished records were broken.

      Doing the right thing would be for MLB to change its policies, encouraging teams to build their own stadiums, forcing teams to spend every penny of revenue sharing money on players, and ensuring that each team was doing its best to be competitive to make its own profits rather than just taking the profits of teams that did try to win. Rejection of this trade, that would be hypocrisy.

    • forsch31 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      Hyprocrisy is say one thing, act the opposite. The problem is, Selig hasn’t said anything about Loria, but he’s given his implicit approval of him by allowing the Montreal-to-Miami fiasco happen. His additional problem is that he intervened with the Dodgers “for the good of baseball,” while he’s allowed Loria to destroy one franchise to the point of moving it and has left him alone in doing whatever he wants in Miami. It’s already hyprocrisy.

      To be perfectly honest, it shouldn’t matter at this point. There’s been other instances of owners getting in over their heads (the Chicago Cubs last decade spring to mind), but usually in those cases they either sell or they begin to straight Moneyball operation, cleaning out their rosters every couple of seasons to clear salary space and relying on their farm systems to remain somewhat competitive. But Loria isn’t really doing either. He’s not going to sell, and he really doesn’t have a plan or management structure in place that’s necessary to run a Moneyball team. He went all in last year, making bigtime free agent signings to justify the new stadium being handed to him. Now, after a single bad season, he has off loaded those same free agents and cut his roster salary to ridiculous levels. In a vacuum, the trade looks like a normal firesale–overpaid veterans exchanged for promising prospect talent, which is the main reason why the trade won’t be and shouldn’t be blocked. But taken in the context of when those veterans were signed, the new publicily funded stadium to generate revenue, the ownership’s instance on competing right up until the moment the trade was made, the abnormally extreme lengths of the salary cuts…this has become an obvious abuse of MLB’s relationships with the communities .

      And that’s why Selig needs to step in, regardless of his support of Loria in the past. What Loria has done to MLB is that he’s pretty much spoiled any trust between the league and public officials. Yeah, there are plenty of other instances of encouraging franchises to get publically funded stadiums. But those deals differ from city to city, and not every franchise got their community to foot the majority of the bill, and some have justified the risk. With this latest firesale and the timing of it, Loria has completely abused the privilege, and if Selig allows Loria to continue to operate, the spector of Marlins Park will be, and should be, raised whenever a team requests public funding for a new park.

      • forsch31 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:40 AM

        Gah…need edit function.

        “..or they begin to move to a straight Moneyball operation,”

        “…an obvious abuse of MLB’s relationships with the communities they operate in.”

    • Bruce Knutson - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      It doesn’t really matter what Selig should do, what matters is what he will do. He won’t veto the trade because he is friends with Loria. Selig has an old boys club and Loria is in it. McCourt was in it too which is why he got the Dodgers and we all see how that turned out. Selig shouldn’t do anything about the trade. He should step down for the good of the game.
      http://sfgiantsfansunite.blogspot.com/

  2. randygnyc - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    The trade itself is a complete salary dump. A reasonable analysis shows that the marlins did receive some value back. The argument for bud stopping this doesn’t take that into consideration. He should stop it for punitive reasons against Lauria. Clearly, he committed fraud against the taxpayers of southern Florida,whether or not the fraud reaches criminal standards or not. Lauria essentially doubled the value of the team with the brand new stadium and didn’t even bother to pretend to give Florida residents any return value.

    • skeleteeth - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:10 AM

      Although I agree that this is reprehensible there is no way that MLB would or should doing anything based on those grounds. Defrauding a municipality is not their jurisdiction and will be left up to local governments or, god forbid, the federal government to waste more taxpayer money on passing a judgement. If anything, maybe Loria and crew would be coaxed out of ownership by Selig with some lame exit strategy over the next couple years if MLB draws enough attention for this.

      I don’t really see anything being done about it unfortunately.

    • elemeno89 - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:31 PM

      i think it may be time to put your tin foil hat back on…

  3. ruehlmann - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    We should be talking about the much more pressing Marlins question right now:

    Has anyone ever seen Jeffrey Loria & this cane toad in the same room together?
    http://media.smithsonianmag.com/images/520*348/cane-toad-1.jpg
    http://sitracking.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/jeffrey-loria-getty-t.jpg

    I’m only saying. Somebody needs to investigate this thing.

    • ptfu - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      Which one is the toad? I can’t tell the difference…

      • Old Gator - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM

        Scrooge McLoria definitely has Macondo in amplexus.

      • Gamera the Brave - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        amplexus, eh? Nice mental picture…
        Thanks for the kick-ass “Word of the Day”!

  4. proudlycanadian - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    Stopping the trade punishes the Jays and helps the Yankees and Red Sox. MLB screwed Montreal and now some people want MLB to screw Toronto. Come off it. A last place team traded highly paid players for decent prospects. Case closed.

    • skeleteeth - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      This is another reason I think this will not be stopped. Adding to another team in the AL East to compete with those markets you mention would be a boon for everyone involved.

    • bozosforall - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      This Yankee fan agrees with you, pc. Time for MLB to stop screwing you Canadians for the benefit of douchebags like Jeff Loria, John Henry and the Boston fan base.

      • skeleteeth - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:17 AM

        Yeah, injecting the AL east with more stars will take money out of the pockets of your beleaguered Yankees.

      • bozosforall - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:17 PM

        I have no issue with the Jays trying to get better, unlike you jealous Boston fans.

    • deathmonkey41 - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      “MLB screwed Montreal and now some people want MLB to screw Toronto. ”

      Excuse me, your country is responsible for Justin Bieber- therefore, it deserves everything it gets.

      • skeleteeth - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:45 AM

        Is that necessary? I mean he just got dumped…

      • proudlycanadian - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:22 AM

        Ouch! You forgot to add Celine Dion to our list of sins!

      • Old Gator - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

        I’ve actually been to the Ann Murray museum in Springhill NS. Trust me, Bieber and Dion don’t even rank. Plus, Donald Southerland and the cabbage borscht at Caplansky’s atone for a multitude of sins.

      • cur68 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        Hey; Shania Twain & Caroline Dhavernas . We made up for Dion & Bieber.

      • yuribeaul - Nov 15, 2012 at 6:50 PM

        As a Canadian, I won’t apologize for Bieber or Celine. These two “artists” are popular because Americans keep encouraging them. Celine works in Vegas. That’s not Canada. And Bieber has hits because there’s way more dumb preteen girls in the states (this is merely a comment on population) that keep buying his crap. Also, any nation responsible for things such as the XFL and NASCAR really can’t complain. I’m not even going to mention your 600 “talent search” programs. Wait. I just did.

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      Stopping the trade punishes the Jays and helps the Yankees and Red Sox. MLB screwed Montreal and now some people want MLB to screw Toronto. Come off it. A last place team traded highly paid players for decent prospects. Case closed.

      You wouldn’t be so blase about it if this were the Orioles or Red Sox. Tell me you’re not biased.

      • proudlycanadian - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:21 AM

        Of course I am biased.

      • cur68 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:51 AM

        Guilty as sin over here, too.

    • indaburg - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      I agree that the trade shouldn’t be blocked–it’s MLB’s and the owners’ own stupid fault they’re in this position–but it’s also not case closed. “A last place team traded highly paid players for decent prospects.” In context, it’s just not that simple.

    • kehnn13 - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      The larger picture here is not about the individual teams, but about how this will affect major league baseball teams going forward.
      I would think that he could stop this trade for “the good of major league basebal.” If he doesn’t, I expect the prospects for other teams wanting publicly funded stadiums have just been diminished markedly.

  5. Jonny 5 - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Who didn’t see this coming? This is what Loria does. He dumps on the tax payers, he dumps on the fans, he dumps on the players. Loria is in this for one thing and winning games and championships isn’t it. Loria is in it for the money. This guy pays himself 10 m per year. This guy has doubled the worth of this team for free which he will directly benefit from when the team is sold. This team has been not only one of the most frustrating to watch if you’re a fan, but also the most profitable. It’s obvious that his idea of winning is dying with the most money.

    • Old Gator - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      Well, isn’t that the logical conclusion to a career that began by exploiting Vincent Price’s taste in etchings for Sears?

  6. kiwicricket - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    Sure Loria and his hamster have handled their business in an obnoxious, crass offensive manner, but it’s pretty much in the same vein as plenty of other owners around MLB. He’s pretty easy to pick on or make examples out of, but what about KC PIT etc etc. Those guys have been raking in cash for quite some time and have no intention of changing the operation.

    Yes the outcry is warranted, yes be took a steaming vile dump on the local Miami fans and population, but he’s worse than others because hes more visible and more detestable as a person?

    I agree with the notion that you can’t single out this one instance and try and change it. This has been happening for years throughout the league, just that Loria is less subtle and more visible.

    The only way to change it/combat it is to become more informed/intelligent as a consumer.

  7. Jeremiah Graves - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    I think the only right thing to do is to send all of the players involved (both the Jays prospects and the Marlins big-leaguers) and Gincarlo Stanton over to the Twins in exchange for Ron Gardenhire’s chest of self-published Nick Punto fan fiction (for the Marlins) and the gigantic garbage bag of Joe Mauer’s sideburns trimmings (for the Blue Jays).

    Also the Marlins get to keep paying everyone’s contracts.

    Also the Twins get to start next season with a 20-win head-start.

    …I miss when the Twins didn’t stink.

  8. fuddpucker - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    If we bitch and moan about Jeffrey Loria then we have to bitch and moan about KC’s owner David Glass too. Glass got a publicly funded expensive stadium renovation and, very similar to Loria, he doesn’t pay to put talent on the field, pocketing millions.

    There are other owners that do this too, they all need to be in this discussion.

    • paperlions - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      ….and the owner of the Twins, and the Pirates, and the Padres, and the Indians, and the…..you get the idea. These guys are all making money doing what they are doing, they don’t see any reason to change…they are interesting in making money, not winning baseball games (though I’m sure that would be a nice bonus).

    • chill1184 - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      David Glass, Fred Wilpon (Mets), Robert Hutting (Pirates), Peter Angelos (Orioles) and so on. Selig doesn’t have the balls to kick any of his cronies out.

      • Old Gator - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:03 AM

        Peter Angelos is almost a genius.

  9. drunkenhooliganism - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    My first thought was that Selig would want to punish loria to show other cities that MLB will support the cities that build new stadiums. Then I remembered that no one in Miami wanted the stadium built. So Selig doesn’t care if he has the community’s support, he now knows he just has to buy a few politicians a warm sandwich and a lapdance and he can get a stadium built anywhere he wants

  10. trevorb06 - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    I see what you did there Craig…

  11. b453841l - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Trade should stand, but Loria should not. Selig should use the “best interest of baseball” authority to slap Loria with some massive fines to provide him with some financial disincentive to act like a robber baron. As pointed out above, he is getting rewarded for misleading the fans. After his organization benefited from duping the public into sinking hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit his business, he is basically cutting and running. I would say that his action is tantamount to fraud. I don’t know that anyone with a net worth of under 1 billion really respects Selig, but he has to realize that Loria’s behavior is reprehensible and cannot continue unchecked.

    The situation in Minnesota is a similar although far less egregious. After two years at Target Field, the Twins are not competitive and payroll is shrinking. With their situation, they have committed money to some decent players–they were basically forced to commit 20-25% of their payroll to Mauer or face a anti-Loriaesque revolt from fans–but all of the players they invest heavily in seem to get injured. Their once serviceable rotation was also ravaged by injuries and ineffectiveness. When you know you aren’t going to be competitive, it does make sense to dump your expensive quality players in an attempt to build for the future. As Dayton Moore is proving in KC, “trusting the process” becomes very difficult when it is protracted over a decade. For the Twins, maybe now 3 years after the new stadium, with a shitty team, it makes sense to build for the future. In Miami, one year after, not so much…

  12. henryd3rd - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    I really feel sorry for John Farrell. He left what now appears to be a contender in the American League East to manage the Red Sox a pretender.

    Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.

    • thebadguyswon - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      Good.

  13. willclarkgameface - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Bud Selig is a slimy used car salesman and has encouraged, supported, and built this current system that is in place. He can’t turn his back on it now, philosophically or legally.

    He’s the dick that is going to get in his own way and he may have just fucked the whole show up all on his own all the while thinking he was such a hero.

    Bud Selig sucks.

    • thebadguyswon - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      He has been a bane upon baseball for two decades.

  14. soxfan1966 - Nov 15, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    There is a precendent that would allow Selig to overturn this trade — Bowie Kuhn nixing Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley’s sales of pitchers Vida Blue to the New York Yankees and Rollie Fingers and infielder Joe Rudi to the Boston Red Sox.

    At the time, Finley was attempting to sell off most (if not all) of his top stars in order to avoid losing them via the new phenomenon called “free agency”. Finley was attempting to receive some measure of compensation rather than lose his best players for essentially nothing. Kuhn nixed the transactions — citing the league’s interest in maintaining competitive balance — as being detrimental to the game’s interests.

    Finley later filed a lawsuit against Kuhn but lost when the US Seventh Circuit Court determined that — as league commissioner duly appointed by the MLB owners with the power of oversight — Kuhn indeed had the authority to block the transactions.

    • northernhardball - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM

      Those deals were strictly for-cash transactions though, am I right? The Marlins are getting a decent player in Escobar, a major-league starter in Alvarez and two blue-chip prospects among other assets. Completely difference story. There is no precedent, nor any sound reason at all for that matter, to quash this deal.

  15. klownboy - Nov 15, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    Bud needs to both kill that trade and contract the Marlins immediately. I do not think the tens of Marlins fans would give a damn.
    http://wp.me/p1gCK6-w3

  16. cidminion - Nov 15, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    There is no reason to stop this team from trading all these players. I’m a die hard Marlins fan and what happened to this city should not be blamed on Loria. Your ELECTED officials gave the ok for that stadium deal. Loria may be a crook but the men in office are the real idiots in this mess.

  17. bills4 - Nov 15, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Ya, letting the Blue Jays have a sniff at possibly contending for a division crown would be such a crime. They will so much better than the Yankees, Orioles, Rays. Seriously, imagine any other division where you improve your club this much and you still have a small chance of winning your division.

  18. yuribeaul - Nov 15, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    Selig should have used his veto power long ago. As it stands now he’ll look ridiculous if he vetoes this trade. Truth be told, he should accept the trade and then retire. Let the next commissioner of baseball fix the game. The Jays made a move, shrewd or poor, to try and better their team. In the short term, they probably are better. I just don’t see how nixing this move accomplishes anything more than cries of conspiracy up in Canada. Let it sand, Bud. Let it stand and then retire. I hear Miami is nice this time of year.

  19. pastabelly - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    I’m a Sox fan who has no problem with the deal. The Red Sox could have done a deal taking on salary and didn’t. Hopefully, they’ve learned something since the Dodgers erased a good deal of Theo’s mistakes.

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