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Will Jeff Loria’s antics harm baseball as a whole?

May 14, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

Jeffrey Loria, Julie Loria

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald is the latest to take Jeff Loria down a peg. But he has a variation on it. Jeff Loria isn’t just killing the Marlins, he’s killing baseball fandom at large.

If rather than going to games or watching on TV or listening on radio, parents are teaching their kids to ignore the Marlins and baseball altogether, the damage Loria is doing to the sport won’t be contained to his team alone.

Baseball as a sport will be injured.

Not gonna say he’s wrong. But I think it may overstate the threat too. Baseball in south Florida is relatively new still, and even when the Marlins were winning the relationship between them and the fan base was still a bit tenuous given the fire sales they had before. That, combined with the large transplant population probably means that a lot of baseball fandom was being transferred to begin with. People weren’t thinking “Marlins or nothing” before, so I doubt they are now. They’re thinking “Marlins or … Yankees?” “Marlins or Rays?” “Marlins or ___.”

Not that this helps any, of course.

  1. grantjessup - May 14, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    20 years is relatively new??

    • echech88 - May 14, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      Absolutely. How many generations of Yankees, Cubs, Phillies and Red Sox fans are there over 80-100 years?

      Fans of those teams probablly have had it passed down from grandparent to parent to child.

      If a team is 20 years old, odds are the parents taking their kids to the games were fans of another team growing up or not much of a fan of the sport to begin with which means it isn’t exactly the deep rooted, sentimental kind of fandom. It is more of a “Hey, we live here so I’m taking you to see this team” kind of thing and unless that team is really easy to root for…it probably doesn’t stick or create much loyalty.

      • indaburg - May 14, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        Exactly. I would go as far as it being passed down from great-grandparents when talking about teams as old and as established as the Yanks, BoSox, Cubs, and Phils. I make similar arguments about the fledgling fanbase of the Rays, babes of 15 years old. No adult, i.e. the ticket buyer, was born a Rays fan. It takes times to build a fan base. Loria’s alienation of the baseball fans in Miami may turn the young fan off baseball altogether. They may think all owners are as capricious as he is and decide to not bother. I think Salguero has a point.

    • paperlions - May 14, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Yes, it is. Enthusiasm for baseball is often handed down from generation to generation, Miami is still working on not pissing off one generation, much less developed a deeply rooted fan base that spans multiple generations.

      • Old Gator - May 14, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        I’m an undead example of the testamental quality of baseball. It was passed down to me primarily by my paternal grandfather who was, as they say, “off the boat” and used to read me the Borg game stories in Yiddish out of the Forvitz, then translate them, albeit roughly. I have fond memories of watching the games on his little black and white television peeking out of the huge oaken console it shared with his radio. He, like many new immigrants, learned to speak baseball a lot more quickly than he learned English. But then, the environment in New York was conducive to it. Young Latino immigrants arriving here or the first generations being born here in Macondo are instead being bottle fed the general distaste and consequent indifference for baseball that the execrable Scrooge McLoria has fostered and that Salguero is talking about.

        I’ll take issue with the Craigster about one thing: I don’t think Salguero is overstating the damage a slug like Scrooge can do the game. I think, if anything, he might be understating it, especially when the modern popular media environment clearly privileges football and basketball over baseball anyway.

    • kpow55 - May 14, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      A normal fan will not invest in a team that is a perennial rebuilder. Rays are in Florida and new by this skewed logic, they seem to be doing alright.

      How many years has the Grapefruit League been down there? Twins, Red Sox, O’s, Cardinals all in South Florida.

      Blame what you will but horrible ownership has an effect on the fan base.

    • scoocha - May 15, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      Relatively speaking – yes. You have teams that have been around for 110-135 years as compared to 20. Move Miami or merge them with TB.

  2. The Dangerous Mabry - May 14, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    There’s one potential market inefficiency that Loria’s hit on. If you can sign a top free agent without a no-trade clause, then you can turn around and trade him for prospects from other teams. Since you can’t sign young prospect-type players as free agents, it’s the next best thing. The biggest problem with the approach is that you’ll probably have to overpay the players in order to woo them away from better teams or to make them deal with not having the no-trade clause, which in turn means you won’t get the kind of trade value you’d want for them. Unless you’re willing to pay some of their salary, which actually probably makes sense.

    1) Sign big free agent for too much money
    2) Trade said free agent for great prospects, continuing to pay some of their salary

    Essentially, what you’re doing is taking prospects from another team, and paying for the privilege in the form of the salary you’re paying the big free agent.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily what Loria’s thinking, but in a world where prospects are totally under a team’s control for a long term, it’s a relatively easy way to come by more young players, if you’re successful.

    And no, it probably doesn’t make for great baseball, and will lead to fans around the sport hating you. It doesn’t mean the idea doesn’t have potential.

    • Ben - May 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM

      The logic of the market is not the logic of the larger well-being of society.

      • yahmule - May 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        Isn’t that the truth, Ben.

    • elpendejo59 - May 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      Don’t forget the other key component to this strategy:

      1) Sign big free agent for too much money
      2) BACKLOAD the deal HEAVILY and let the other team pay for the years when the players are really getting paid.

      Have a look at what Buehrle and Reyes were getting paid in the first year of their respective deals. I’m not saying it was necessarily the strategy going in either, but when you see how little of the contracts the Marlins actually paid, it sure adds credibility to your theory.

      • Old Gator - May 14, 2013 at 12:47 PM

        The backloading made me very nervous long before the four muleskinners of the Apocalypse rode through the clubhouse last season and orfseason. The oldtimers on this blog will recall how I was trying very hard to cut Scrooge some slack after years of ragging on him, and credit him for keeping his word for a change. Of course, this was before the full extent of the disaster of the Macondo Banana Massacre Field construction ripoff had been exposed.

        Nonetheless, when the details of those backloaded contracts were revealed, I felt a strange stirring in my gut, like a tapeworm throwing up. It was just too obvious what was coming. I repressed it, of course, but…well, I guess when it’s all expectorated and done, a viper just can’t change his labial pits, can he?

      • jwbiii - May 14, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        You can’t worry forever about your mistakes.
        You fucked up. You trusted him.

      • Old Gator - May 14, 2013 at 1:12 PM

        Mea culpa. Ah, if only I had realized….maybe I could have stopped him!

    • paperlions - May 14, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      That really is only efficient if you can find a team willing to pay for player twice, once by taking on most of their salary and second by also providing quality prospects….most teams will pay in dollars or players, but not both.

    • kevinbnyc - May 14, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      I think you’re all probably looking into this too much. I have very little confidence Loria has anything in mind other than “make as much money as I possibly can.”

  3. chacochicken - May 14, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    I can imagine Jeff Loria giving Nixon’s “I am not a crook”, or “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” speeches.

    • heyblueyoustink - May 14, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      He might practice them in the mirror at night in his secret chamber full of curios and oddities, like a well preserved monkey’s fist or something.

      Watch what you wish for Jeffrey!

    • abaird2012 - May 14, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      What about Checkers? Loria must keep a dog around so he’ll have something to kick.

      • nbjays - May 14, 2013 at 11:52 AM

        Yep! Old Gator calls him “The Chihuahua” :-)

      • Old Gator - May 14, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        I’ve got this wonderful image in my head, a la the unlamented LBJ, of Scrooge McLoria standing above a prostrate Chihuahua, lifting him up by his earlobes.

    • historiophiliac - May 14, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      I’m kinda more inclined to believe there will be a Citizen Kane/”Rosebud” ending.

      • heyblueyoustink - May 14, 2013 at 1:18 PM

        And there’s nothing wrong with that:-)

      • historiophiliac - May 14, 2013 at 1:40 PM

        Imagine a baseball rolling out of his hand as he whispers: “Tommy.”

    • mybrunoblog - May 14, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      I more envision Loria on a podium ala Clinton wagging his finger not saying “I never had sex with that woman, Mrs. Lewinsky” but saying “I never lied to the fans or Miami County, we need a new ballpark to compete”

    • Old Gator - May 14, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      I can’t wait for the “You won’t have Scrooge McLoria to kick around anymore” speech. I’m tired of cleaning the shinola off my boots.

      • jwbiii - May 14, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        Are you sure that’s shinola?

      • jwbiii - May 14, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      • jwbiii - May 14, 2013 at 2:05 PM

        Ah, shinola, I apologize. It seems start time settings don’t work for clips with lead advertisements. The line I wanted comes at 2:20.

  4. lovistemiami - May 14, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    As a Miamian and a Marlins fan I agree on all points, except: Marlins or Yankees – yes. Marlins or Mets – yes. Marlins or Phillies or Braves – yes. Marlins or Rays – Ugh, I have never met a Rays fan. (Admittedly, I imagine they’d say they’ve never met a Marlins fan).

    • Old Gator - May 14, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      It’s not the team they don’t want to admit to knowing about. It’s that hideous giant plantar’s wart they play in.

      • indaburg - May 14, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        That’s another plus of rooting for the Rays from Miami–you never have to visit the Trop! You can watch it all on tv.

    • indaburg - May 14, 2013 at 2:36 PM

      Hi, lovistemiami. /shaking your hand

      Allow me to introduce myself. I’m a Rays fan. Now you know one. There’s a couple more of us who patrol this hallowed blog, fighting the good fight–raysfan1 and hittfamily. We’re fun, smart (ok, raysfan1 is a doctor–he’s really smart), and kinda cute.

      We are a small fanbase, yet there are those who love us. We can certainly use all the fans we can get. As a Feesh fan, I know you are accustomed to small fan bases. Why would you base your fandom on the number of fans a team has when you know what it’s like to root for a team with few fans? Be a trendsetter! Be different! Join us Rays fans, and support baseball in our beautiful absurd land of flowers, sun, and beaches.

      Now I will proceed to troll all those other teams you mentioned and comvince you to join us. Don’t root for the Yankees–that’s like rooting for Donald Trump. The Mets–the Wilpons will break your heart. The Phillies? Do you have the stomach to boo all your players? I’m more of the positive reinforcement type myself. Silence speaks volumes, after all. Braves? C’mon man. Tomahawk chop? Really? Really.

      I hope I’ve pleaded my case.

      Sincerely,

      A Rays Fan

      • jwbiii - May 14, 2013 at 5:32 PM

        Hug.

      • indaburg - May 14, 2013 at 6:08 PM

        Aw, shucks. :-)

  5. misterscmo - May 14, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    I can remember people asking similar questions about Charley O. back in the day.

  6. hisgirlgotburrelled - May 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    It’s really hard to sound irrational when trashing Loria, but this guy sounds pretty irrational.

  7. Old Gator - May 14, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    Every so often the Macondo Feeshwrapper (and I have to credit the illustrious Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg with that name, by the way) delivers itself of a sentient commentary like Salguero’s. I try not to read the Feeshwrapper very often, because I’m overwhelmed by its rampant bad grammar and its relentless biased reporting, or kowtowing to the rich old right wing Cuban dinosaurs who are its biggest advertisers. They’re still recycling Chavez-bashing articles with a few verb tenses tweaked to let us know that they know he’s actually dead now. Sometimes they leave a verb in the present tense, which gives away the fact that they’ve run the piece before. Sometimes they switch out “Chavez” for “Maduro” (which is a fried banana, by the way) so they can recycle the old stuff.

    But what of that. It’s the split infinitives that really get to me. Back in the early 1960s, when a small group of postmodernists were preparing to split the infinitive for the first time, English professors warned that this might cause a chain reaction that could destroy the entire English language.

    The postmodernists went ahead anyway. The English professors were right, and rotten form swept through the Feeshwrapper like Ice Nine.

    • unclemosesgreen - May 14, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      So the split infinitive is like the Higgs Boson of writing?

      Hey Gator – just finished Blood Meridian. And started it again. Do you have a recommendation on the safest way to collect the brain matter that has exploded out of my ears so far?

      • Old Gator - May 14, 2013 at 11:54 PM

        Yeah, Blood Meridian will do that to you. I can do all the dialogue, in five or six different character voices, of the entire Reverend Green scene from “Reverend Green had been playing to packed audiences ever since the rain had been falling” right through to “somebody bought the judge a drink.” I do the judge’s voice as Lyndon B. Johnson. Amazingly in character, but then I don’t give Rick Perry nearly enough credit to account for a fraction of the judge’s intelligence. I do the guy who yells “Damn my eyes if I won’t shoot the son of a bitch” as Gabby Hayes – also works really well. Reverend Green is my own synthetic cracker Chautauqua voice. And of course, you have got to nail the enunciation of “Yes lady that is what I said. Goat.” or the whole thing won’t work right.

        Enjoy the second time through. A lot of weird stuff will be clarified by the second reading. Then I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of Adventures in Reading Cormac McCarthy by Peter Josyph and read the interviews on Blood Meridian, the one with Harold Bloom and the one called “Blood Bath.”

      • unclemosesgreen - May 15, 2013 at 6:04 AM

        Can’t sleep – the Judge is tracking me.

      • unclemosesgreen - May 15, 2013 at 6:05 AM

        The Judge terrifies me. But now I’m sitting here hoping that your dramatic readings weren’t developed as a way to put children to bed.

      • Old Gator - May 15, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        I used to read to my kids from Kafka and Vonnegut when they were really little. My daughter got the full Metamorphosis treatment when she was about ten, and my son, who rolled just a little less far from the tree than she did, got the full Cat’s Cradle. Once, when one of my colleagues from the University was having lunch with us, my son – then about ten or eleven – asked if he could have some Ice Nine in his lemonade. The poor guy nearly choked.

  8. ryanrockzzz - May 14, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    A team does not have to win consistently to have a loyal fan base. Just look at the Cubs. I think the problem with having a team in Florida, is that everything is so new. Most of the people alive down there now grew up as fans of another team, or they had that franchise history passed down to them.

    Also, there’s a lot of other stuff to do in Florida that beats going to a baseball game. Especially when the team isn’t good, or plays in a god awful stadium like the one in Tampa. If the teams are good, and tradition is established, different story entirely. But that hasn’t come anywhere close to happening.

  9. kingjoe1 - May 14, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    The Marlins fans havent been all that supportive, even when they won multiple World Series. Think about it; Only 5 teams in MLB history have appeared in a higher percentage of WS based upon their years in existence. Only 12 teams have won more World Series. So if FLA fans weren’t already flocking to the stadium, nothing will ever make it a baseball town. The team will forever be a lightening in the bottle team. That said, I support how Loria is getting young and I hope that he continues the trend of replacing upcoming big money free agents with young hungry players. Once this team is promoted right, enough fans will enjoy the team, and the media can stop making a story out of nothing but a team working within the market which exist.

    • Old Gator - May 14, 2013 at 10:32 PM

      You know and understand nothing about this market or its history. You’re totally clueless. Try not to speak.

  10. rcali - May 14, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Wait till he asks for public money for rehab down the road on the ballpark.

    • mazblast - May 14, 2013 at 6:38 PM

      He needs rehab, all right. Someone should rehab him, this time installing a heart and a brain.

      • historiophiliac - May 14, 2013 at 7:42 PM

        So, he’s the scarecrow AND the tin man?

      • Old Gator - May 15, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        Let me work the rib spreader!

  11. crnvic847 - May 14, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    Da FEEEEEEEEEEEESH!!!

  12. mpilatzke - May 16, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Forget the damage it’s done to baseball. Look at what’s going on with the Dolphins. If the Dolphins move because this sorry excuse for an owner took all that public money and ran, it would be a real tragedy.

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