Thursday, February 16, 2012
10th anniversary: Loria officially becomes Marlins ownerPosted by Chris Jaffe
10 years ago today, Jeff Loria officially became owner of the Marlins, as major league baseball approved of the sale. Few changes in ownership have garnered as much negative publicity as that one.
It was part of a game of musical owners. The Marlins owner went to Boston, Montreal’s owner (Loria) went to Florida, and baseball itself took over the Expos (a move that made it much easier to pull them out of Montreal and re-baptize them as the Washington Nationals.
The reasons for bad publicity? Let’s count.
First, it made the game look bad to just juggle and reshuffle the owners. While it’s nowhere near as bad as the syndicate ownership from the late 19th century in which individuals owned multiple teams, the game works best when it’s perceived to have 30 separate clubs fighting against each other, not some Old Boys Club where they work together.
Second, the exact logistics of how it played out looked bad. Loria’s front office took almost everything with them from Montreal, including files and scouting reports. There was all sorts of bleak stories out of Montreal in which the front office sounded like it had been stripped bare.
Third, Loria himself wasn’t the most sympathetic character. He’d previously oversaw the sad turn-of-the-millennium years of the Expos during which time their popularity went from slim to none. Now he was being rewarded with a new franchise.
That implied a fourth problem—and the biggest problem of all. In the 2001-02 off-season, Bud Selig publicly brought up the possibility of contracting two clubs. Well, now it looked like this plan would have real teeth.
The Expos were right in line to be contracted. Baseball itself now owned them, and they had little support. It was clear that whether contracted or moved, that the new Expos owners had little to no interest in appealing to any fan base there. The move of Loria was the death knell for the Expos.
More than that, the move of Loria to Florida caused some to wonder if this was a plan to set up the Marlins for failure and possible contraction. People really didn’t think much of Loria. Would he scuttle the team, sell out to MLB and profit from the sale while they contracted his two former clubs?
A decade later, contraction never happened. Loria still owns the Marlins, but profits from their existence rather than their demise. He’s even won a world title with them, and the team has posted an almost perfectly .500 record (808-811) for him.
That said, he still doesn’t have the best image, to put it mildly. A few years ago I did a column here at THT comparing franchises with characters from The Simpsons. I matched the Yankees up with Mr. Burns for the obvious reasons (big super-rich guy that everyone loves to hate), but one reader gave me an interesting counter scenario. He argued that Jeff Loria’s Marlins were the real comparison for Mr. Burns.
Yes, the Yankees have all the money, but at least Steinbrenner was willing to spend it on his players and even risk losing money in a season if it could further his goal of winning a title. The Marlins? Loria was not known for paying players much money and, while he did win a title, seemed more interested in making money. He let almost all the guys from the 2003 championship go, after all.
Granted things have now changed this off-season, with the Marlins' massive spending spree. Perhaps the problems were more about stadium deals than Loria’s personal proclivities.
Yet Loria is an odd owner. He’s widely reviled among fans despite the world title and his ability to field a good team despite being having one of the worst payrolls in baseball. He’s out Billy Beaned Billy Beane for most of the last decade. And it’s now been exactly a decade since he took over in Florida.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are (and I’ve put the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim the list).
1,000 days since the Orioles released once-promising pitcher (many years and several teams ago), Adam Eaton.
1,000 days since Michael Cuddyer hits for the cycle.
2,000 days since Carlos Beltran bops his 200th home run.
5,000 days since Jeff Bagwell hits three home runs in one game for the third time in his career (and just six weeks since the second time). In one at bat he battles for 11 pitches before launching a home run. It’s his longest at bat to ever result in a long ball.
5,000 days since the Mariners and Rockies combine for 10 home runs in a 16-11 Colorado win.
5,000 days since Guillermo Mota homers in his only at bat of the year. He’s only the third player to ever do that.
5,000 days since the signature moment in Bobby Valentine’s managerial career. Ejected from the Mets game, he returns to the dugout with sunglasses and a fake mustache (made of sun block decals players normally where under their eyes). The Mets win and he’ll earn a suspension for this.
5,000 days since Jacque Jones makes his big league debut.
6,000 days since Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell set a record by appearing in their 1,915th game together. Whitaker celebrates the game in style, as he hits his eighth and final career walk-off home run.
6,000 days since the big league debut of Billy Wagner.
7,000 days since the Twins sign free agent Dave Winfield.
8,000 days since authorities arrest gambler Howard Spira for attempting to extort money from George Steinbrenner.
9,000 days since the first time two black managers square off against each other in organized ball. It’s in the minors as Boise (managed by Derrell Thomas) face Bend (skippered by Mel Roberts) in the Northwestern League.
9,000 days since Darrell Evans joins the 2,000 hit club. It took him 2,350 games to do so.
9,000 days since Mark McGwire has one of the greatest games of his career. He goes 4-for-5 with three home runs, 13 total bases, five runs, and five RBI. Even in his non-hit, he reaches base on an error.
9,000 days since perhaps the worst day at the plate ever for 200-game winning pitcher Rick Reuschel. He’s 0-for-4 with four Ks, his only four-K game.
9,000 days since Kevin Bass gets a homer, triple, and two doubles—but never lands that single for the cycle. It’s the 15th time since 1920 a player has had that exact line.
10,000 days since Don Mattingly has a great final game of the season, going 4-for-5 in order to top teammate Dave Winfield for the batting title, .343 to .340. Back then, the batting title meant a lot more.
10,000 days since the last day of the season witnesses the final career games for Bob Watson, Joe Morgan, and Mickey Rivers. It’s also the last games managed by Danny Ozark and Ralph Houk.
10,000 days since Mike Witt ends the season by tossing a perfect game. He leads the Angels to a 1-0 win over Texas, with the only run against Charlie Hough being unearned.
10,000 days since baseball umps announce that they will strike at two LCS games to improve their pay.
25,000 days since the A’s, suffering from the wartime shortage in talent, send Carl Scheib, age 16 years, five months, and three days, to the mound.
40,000 days since Giants owner Andrew Freedman announces that Reds owner John Brush is taking over the Giants.
At some point today, it will be 1,000,000,000 second since Whitey Herzog taking over for Ken Boyer as Cardinals manager.
1901 Work on Orioles Park, home for the new Baltimore AL team, begins.
1909 Boston trades Cy Young to Cleveland.
1909 The White Sox purchase Gavvy Cravath from the Red Sox.
1916 Two Chicago businessmen agree to take over the Indians from then-owner Charles W. Somers, who is having financial troubles.
1924 31-year-old Braves infielder Tony Boeckel dies in a car wreck in Torrey Pines, CA.
1934 Hall of Fame pitcher Eppa Rixey announces his retirement.
1934 The Giants release Lefty O’Doul.
1943 The US armed forces draft Joe DiMaggio.
1948 Speaking at Wilberforce College, Branch Rickey says there was a high ranking MLB document in which the owners of all other baseball teams said his plan to integrate the Dodgers was a bad idea.
1952 Honus Wagner dies at age 77.
1952 Jerry Hairston Sr. is born.
1953 The Pirates, Dodgers, Reds, and Braves engage in a four-way trade. The Braves get the big prize in it, as they land Joe Adcock.
1960 Former infielder Stuffy McInnis dies.
1961 Charles O. Finley purchases the remaining 48 percent of the Kansas A’s to become sole owner of the team.
1961 Dazzy Vance, all-time great fireballer, dies.
1976 Eric Byrnes, outfielder, is born.
1980 Former batting champion Harvey Kuenn has part of his right leg amputated, due to a blood clot. He loses the leg below his knee in a four-hour operation.
1985 The Padres sign amateur free agent Roberto Alomar.
1995 260 members of the Players Association meet in Orlando during their strike. The big story comes from Lenny Dykstra, who indicates he might cross the line and play despite the strike.
1996 General Mills announce they’ll produce a special series of Wheaties cereal boxes featuring Negro Leagues greats Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Cool Papa Bell.
1998 The Indians sign free agent Shawon Dunston.
2001 Bob Buhl, longtime pitcher, dies.
2004 Texas trades Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees for href="http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=847&position=2B/OF" target="_blank" class="player">Alfonso Soriano and a minor-leaguer to be named later.
2010 Jim Bibby, 1970s/80s pitcher, dies.
2011 The Cubs name Keith Moreland as their new full-time radio color guy, to replace the late Ron Santo.
2011 Miguel Cabrera is arrested for a DUI.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.