This week, Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria traded five of the team’s top players to the Toronto Blue Jays, a horrible move in the eyes of those who’ve supported the team in its first season at a new ballpark. Bill spoke with Dave Hyde, a columnist for the Sun-Sentinel, about how this salary dump is impacting Florida’s sports fans.
Why has the trade of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck from the Marlins caused such an uproar in Miami this week?
Well in Miami, and south Florida, it’s beyond a baseball story. It’s a story, a history, involving a team and the community and the fact that a year ago a new stadium opened with $360 million of public money, and I think people fear that Jeffrey Loria, the owner, is trying to make a lot of money here.
You have suggested that having sent so many popular players to Toronto, Loria should book a ticket north for himself as well. Is that a sentiment representative of how Marlins fans are feeling?
I think it is. I think at this point, in fact, he doesn’t have to book it north—he can book it south, he can book it east or west. And it isn’t like this is an isolated event. He’s had the team for 10 years and there have been issues, concerns and questions when they’ve been lying about not making money in the old stadium. And then their private records were discovered where they made about roughly $100 million over a four-year span.
Historically, owners who’ve shipped out players with large contracts have done so to make the team more attractive to potential buyers. Loria has called accusations that he’s doing that “more stupidity.” What do you think?
I don’t think he’s going to sell the team, much as people in south Florida want him to. I’ve been told that he will be carried out of the stadium with his last breath. I mean, he likes being a major league baseball owner.
How can you enjoy being a major league baseball team owner in a city where nobody likes you?
To me, that is the big question. You become a sports owner in part because of the status of it all. I don’t know how he can show his face in south Florida. Nobody’s going to want anything to do with him. Even the politicians who gave him these hundreds of millions, they’re running for the hills right now because they don’t want anything to do with him. So, I have no idea how he’s going to enjoy the status of being a major league baseball owner.
A year ago, the Marlins had new players, new stadium, new manager, new uniform, logo, and a new brand—“Miami” rather than “Florida.” Is there anything still keeping fans buzzing about the team?
People are buzzing with pitchforks and torches in their hands. But you know, it won’t even be that. What will settle in is the complete opposite of grand hatred and emotion. It will be complete apathy. Miami will be back in last place with no hope to change that. So that’s really the sad thing if you’re a baseball fan in south Florida. This just strips almost all hope of it being a fun night at the ballpark.