WTF?!by John Brattain
April 07, 2006
"WTF" is a common Internet acronym. We all know what it means. It also describes pretty much everything the Florida Marlins' management decides to do. They do all they can to alienate the fanbase and then wonder why nobody comes to the ballpark. I mean, if Jeffrey Loria and David Samson were the pilot and copilot of the Enola Gay they’d drop the A-bomb, land the plane in downtown Hiroshima, look around, scratch their heads and wonder “Where did everybody go?”
I guess you're all wondering what set me off this time.
Well, let’s check in with my favorite person in the whole wide world (give or take six billion people), David Samson and his recent interview with MLB.com. Be forewarned: there is some comedy gold here:
He's [Loria] excited about the players, but he also recognizes what a difficult offseason it was. Because any time you go from the franchise's record-highest payroll to the franchise's lowest payroll, it comes with the realization that we didn't get a stadium deal done, and that our future in South Florida is unclear. That's what is more upsetting to him this offseaso...is the announcement that had to be made in November. Our goal from Day 1 has been to open a new stadium, and it was supposed to open this year.
Translation: We don’t wish to pay our employees, indeed our product; we expect you, the taxpayer to do this for us. If you don’t, then gosh darn it, we won’t either. Number one priority for Loria and Samson isn’t a competitive team or a World Series champion—instead it’s corporate welfare. (They could've opened a stadium in 2006 had they built it themselves.) Pay attention San Antonio and Portland.
But there have been other cities who have stepped up, and we've had very serious conversations about the possibility of relocation.
They’ve stepped up? How? They passed legislation? Issued bonds? Broken ground? Said nice things to you? Made vague promises that have a Samson’s-chance-in-a-basketball game of actually happening? I think the word for this is, let me think a moment, it’s coming to me, one second—oh yeah: a lie. Okay, maybe a lie is a little harsh. How about a colossal delusion with a dash of wishful thinking sprinkled with hoping like hell that South Florida politicos are reading this interview and are drop-dead dumb enough to believe it.
Time for some real hilarity:
I've been involved in conversations with the mayor of San Antonio and County Judge Nelson Wolff for quite a while now. And it was important for Jeffrey to meet them. So we're going to sit with them during the game, and sit with some commissioners from San Antonio and get to know them, because that's how you start relationships and that's how you continue business relationships—by developing personal relationships. As far as what does it mean? We already know the local politicians in Miami-Dade. We're just starting to get to know those in San Antonio.
Oh yeah, they just loooooooove you in South Florida don’t they? Now you’re letting the good folks in San Antonio to get to know you too? Of course their idea of a business relationship is quite different from your idea of a business relationship.
What we have to do is show people around Major League Baseball that South Florida deserves to be a Major League market with a Major League Baseball team. We and Commissioner Bud Selig have repeatedly said we believe South Florida is a good market for baseball. It just hasn't shown it. Now is the time to start. People can be upset that the payroll is lower or upset that we're looking at other cities to possibly relocate the team, but the truth is, a lot of the destiny of the franchise could be in our fans' hands. Reacting positively to our team, even if you are concerned about the future, is something that can be very important this year.
Translation: Eat our [common slang expression for feces] and call it ice cream, give us several hundred million of free money and maybe we’ll give you some liver and lima beans later. Have you ever heard of a business telling its customers to spend their hard-earned dollars on an inferior product, then spend still more of it on extra taxes before they’ll stock the shelves with quality merchandise?
Well that's precisely what Scrappy-Doo is telling you.
Your payroll is $20 million lower than the second-lowest team in the majors! It’s not even $15 million! The Marlins received $27 million in revenue sharing in 2005. Nice going. The Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire, and you’re going to be whining and simpering that you need more revenue sharing, yet your payroll isn’t even 60% of the subsidies you received last year. Do you think the players' union isn’t going to point at you as the number one reason that revenue sharing doesn’t work? (Are you still paying attention San Antonio and Portland?)
It depends what the deal looks like. In cities where the public has fully built the stadium, I can understand the expectations for the payroll to be high. In a community where right now we've offered the fourth-largest contribution in the history of new stadiums, there is certainly a correlation between that contribution and what the payroll can be. So if we have to go even higher to get a deal done here, it will impact our payroll. We have to make sure we save the franchise first. Over the long run, that is far more important than an individual year's payroll.
Remember, they tried to save the franchise in Montreal too. On the bright side, at least they’re not working as paramedics. Again note what Samson is saying: even if you give him a new stadium, if they have to kick in too much of their own money then it will affect the payroll. We've seen how these carpet-baggers work. Listen very closely to what this means; Samson said "there is certainly a correlation between that contribution and what the payroll can be. So if we have to go even higher to get a deal done here, it will impact our payroll." In other words, even with a new stadium there will continue to be a low payroll and frequent cuts and it will be blamed on how much of their own money they had to put into the stadium regardless of their revenues.
Don't believe me? They're going to receive subsidies from MLB that exceed what they're paying the players already. Do you think they'll treat a public subsidy any differently? Samson has already given them an out for doing just that. Any words they utter otherwise have to be weighed against what their actions have demonstrated.
Our lease runs out in 2010—that's our last season in Dolphins Stadium. So we need to have a new stadium by 2011. In order to open a new stadium in 2010, we need to start building very soon. Previously, we had hoped to open in 2006, and that would have given us a cushion for many years [under the Dolphins Stadium lease agreement]. That would have helped the team tremendously. Now we don't have that cushion. It's not a matter of wanting a new stadium, it's a matter of survival.
So here it is in a nutshell folks. On the one hand he says “We have to make sure we save the franchise first,” and now he does a complete 180 degree turn and says they cannot save the team—only the taxpayers can.
Would you go around trying to sell expensive floor covering and part of the sales pitch is that, at absolutely no extra cost, they’ll throw in a couple of dogs that aren’t housebroken? That’s what the Marlins are trying to sell to other communities. Yes, you can have a major league baseball team if you give us a whack of free money and welcome into your home these two pets (a Loriabrador Receiver and a full of Shih Tzu) neither of which are housebroken and are unlikely to ever become so.
Obviously regions want major league baseball but not if it means Loria and Samson are part of the deal. They've proven conclusively in both Montreal and South Florida that to say no to corporate welfare is to say yes to a scorched earth policy.
All I can say about any region that would want the Florida Marlins as long as they're run by these two is WTF?!?!?!?
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.