Blackmail Black Knights and Black Humorby John Brattain
May 20, 2005
In the Monty Python movie, “In Search Of The Holy Grail”, King Arthur comes across the Black Knight. A duel ensues in which the Black Knight is relieved of all four of his appendages. The Black Knight, despite his obvious handicap, still feels he has the upper hand even though he may be inclined to call the duel a draw -- at best.
You’re playing poker. You’re holding a royal flush. Your opponent has a pair of threes. He shows you his cards. Then he puts everything into the pot including his house, his car and his firstborn and double-dog dares you to call his bluff.
Well, in this case, King Arthur and the poker player with the royal flush is the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County, and the Black Knight (apropos no?) and the poker player with the craptastic hand is Major League Baseball.
Bob Dupuy, Bud Selig’s left chee…er, right hand man and chief operating officer (COO ... which makes Dupuy one half of the coo-coo’s running MLB) sent an ominous letter to the good folks in Miami-Dade County telling them that they’re holding a pair of threes and are telling them to approve a $60 million tax rebate to finish the financing of a new stadium for the Marlins (ominous music) or else.
To show that they mean business, they’ve given local lawmakers until June 9th to finish said financing for said ballpark (ominous music) or else.
The mental and physical midgets, Jeffrey Loria and David Samson, agreed to ante up $192 million in rent as their contributions, leaving the public to pick up the remaining $228 million for the new park.
Also in the epistle of St. Bob the Duplicitous was a notation that MLB won’t issue a letter of credit to cover cost overruns on the project. In other words, if this puppy ends up costing $520 million instead of $420 million, guess who gets to pick up the check? Make no mistake, projects like this almost always have cost overruns, so the public’s contribution is higher than what the good folks in Miami-Dade County are currently being told.
So MLB is telling Miami-Dade County, fork it over (ominous music) or else.
Or else what?
They’ll move? Where are they gonna go? Well, to ratchet up the heat, we’ll let the good folks in the Sunshine State that Oscar Goodman -- mayor of Las Vegas -- will be more than happy to host the Marlins.
Well according to Nielsen Media the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale region is presently the 17th largest DMA in the USA (just under 1.5 million households), is surrounded by several other large markets, and is located in a booming area of the country. It enjoys a strong, diverse economy, whereas Las Vegas is the 51st largest with just 614,000-ish households. And there’s nothing outside the immediate vicinity of the metropolitan area for hundreds of miles -- unless you like sand. Las Vegas’ entire economy is dependent on the casinos and tourism, which it should be noted are things that would compete with MLB for the entertainment dollar.
Why do you think none of the other major sports have put a team there?
How close do you think Mr. Goodman is to having a major-league-ready stadium prepared for the Marlins? Mayor Goodman can make all kinds of promises and grandiose statements, but you can’t fit luxury suites and club seating into them.
In short, MLB is telling Miami-Dade County that not only are they holding a pair of threes, but they’ve got a pair of threes and king high!!
That should empty the bladders of Miami-Dade County’s politicos -- albeit from laughter. Suffice it to say, this threat is as empty as a supermodel’s bookshelf.
So let’s get to the real reasons behind said threatening letter.
Dupuy wrote: “The Marlins are one of the only teams currently expected to continue losing money through 2006. We must collectively provide (commissioner Bud Selig) with the Marlins' path to financial stability.”
AND THIS IS MIAMI-DADE’S PROBLEM HOW?????
The Florida Marlins are a private business. Its profitability is solely determined by the parties who own this business. That’s what free enterprise and capitalism are about. I’m not an expert on the U.S. Constitution, but I tried googling and couldn’t come up with an amendment that guarantees the right of private business to turn a profit or to be guaranteed “financial stability.” And we know what Selig/Dupuy (which goes to prove that two heads aren‘t necessarily better than one) mean by “financial stability” … what they’re saying is:
WE NEED MORE FREE MONEY!!!!
Of course the reason behind wanting a new stadium (besides wanting to protect their fans from sitting in the rain, catching pneumonia, falling into a coma, ending up on a feeding tube and having the governor yank it out so you die and can’t buy a seven dollar beer … in Florida they can put a man on the moon but cannot figure out how to use an umbrella) is that they’re locked into an onerous lease courtesy of the Marlins’ first owner, Wayne Huizenga, where Wayne gets to ride the elevator and gave John Henry and Loria the shaft. However, when the team was bought, both Henry and Loria knew what the lease was like and went into the arrangement with eyes open. This again begs the question:
THIS IS MIAMI-DADE’S PROBLEM HOW?????
Why should the taxpayer be forced to subsidize the business decisions of Loria/Henry/Huizenga? Is there any reason why the taxpayers should be forced to pay for stupidity? They already pay the salaries of Congress, so why should they be forced to build a new stadium because Jeffrey Loria bought a team with a bad stadium lease?
It boggles the mind.
At least they’re not insulting our intelligence by saying that a team that won two World Series championships in seven years, and is currently a half game out of first in their division, is having competitive issues. However crying poormouth after outbidding the New York Mets for the services of Carlos Delgado is funnier than Bud Selig’s hair.
Jeffrey Loria and MLB have no leverage. Miami-Dade County is holding all the cards. There is a generous enough deal on the table for a stadium. The Marlins are getting $166 million in free money for their stadium, which is $166 million more than they deserve. If the politicians in South Florida cave into Major League Baseball’s threats, they, and the next ten generations of their families, should be held in contempt. They should go through life mocked and ridiculed, feeling the scorn of the public everywhere they turn. They should be spat on, made fun of, pointed at, and laughed at wherever they go. That would be a most fitting legacy for anyone who got outsmarted by Bud Selig holding a pair of threes.
Our good friend, and THT stalwart, John Brattain passed away on March 24, 2009. John was a prolific writer, whose work can also be read at Sympatico/MSN Sports and Baseball Digest Daily. John's work was also featured at USA Today, MLBtalk, ESPN Insider, Baseball Prospectus, The Baseball Analysts and The Baseball Journals. Never afraid to express himself in any medium, he was also a frequent radio speaker.