By Matt Spiegel-
(CBS) Jeffrey Loria is the worst, most relentlessly wicked owner in sports.
He bilked his community in a drawn out stadium sell-job, securing 80% public funding for a post-modern palace he said would change everything.
It changed nothing except the thickness of his wallet.
Any remotely smart baseball person knew not to trust last year’s free-agent frenzy in Miami. All of the contracts were heavily back-loaded, to provide a convenient delay as to who would actually end up paying. None of the deals had no-trade clauses (“it’s company policy guys, don’t worry!”), all but insuring Loria would not be left with the $191 million dollar tab.
And here, less than a year later, it’s all gone.
Pre-existing players like Hanley Ramirez will fight for a division in Los Angeles. Anibal Sanchez pitched in the World Series for Detroit and basks in free agency. The now deposed high-profile manager was every bit the problem he’s always been, without the winning. Hell, the Marlins bailed on their Showtime documentary series before the network had planned.
And after yesterday’s unload to the Blue Jays, all that’s left is the vomitous center field home run “sculpture,” which makes fans think they’ve gone to a circus on LSD.
A hallucinatory big top adventure would probably be a preferable entertainment choice, as opposed to watching whatever $30 million product ends up playing baseball in Miami.
As showcased in last August’s Red Sox bailout trade with the Dodgers, the new market inefficiency in baseball is, well, inefficiency. The Blue Jays’ ability and willingness to take on cumbersome salaries means they’ll be formidable. Jose Reyes and the vastly underrated Emilio Bonifacio will be ideal table setters for the power of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle will bolster the AL’s 10th-ranked starting rotation.
There will be sympathy for Buehrle. I assume on his part, there will be anger towards his old buddy Ozzie Guillen. Guillen convinced Buehrle to join him for a new beginning in Miami, assuring him ownership there had changed. At a crucial, and probably final, moment of free agent opportunity, Buehrle trusted the wrong guy.
I’ve said for years that Buehrle could grow old competing at a high level in the National League. Now he has to pitch back in the AL with its far deeper lineups, in a packed division and a historically hitter-friendly stadium. He’s been good at Rogers Centre, but that was before some natural decay to his already non-elite stuff. Buehrle also stands to lose plenty of money in the Canadian exchange.
A man who thrives in comfortable, trusting scenarios now faces an unprecedented challenge. Time to find a new home; one in a province in which the local dog laws are not accommodating. Ontario lives under an all out ban on Buehrle’s beloved Pit Bulls. Remember his logistical challenges on that front in Miami? This is one of many reasons guys his age usually get no-trade clauses. He’s old enough to know what he needs and wants.
Sadly, Buehrle should have seen it coming. It wasn’t difficult. The only surprise is how quickly Loria, and his henchman David Samson, were willing to expose themselves again as the snakes they’ve always been.
Those who defended the Marlins, trying to convince us all that the commitment was real, are either now shamefully silent or gone from the local media scene altogether. The Guillen family’s Sun-Times spokesman is writing about Nate Robinson.
There is no defending the hypocrisy of that organization. There is only fallout.
Public funding stadium initiatives all over the country will be damaged by Loria’s scheming. Wrigley Field renovation opponents need only point south to show the possibilities for a public to be swindled. Is Tom Ricketts a more honorable man than Jeffrey Loria? Easily. Is Theo Epstein’s plan more stable, far reaching and sensible than last year’s transparent Marlins sham? Of course.
But the Cubs case just got a bit harder to make. They’ll have to convince some constituents further still that their aims are true.
We all knew Jeffrey Loria’s were not. And if you didn’t, you should have.
Listen to Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score weekdays from 9am–1pm CT on The McNeil & Spiegel Show and Sundays from 9am–Noon CT on Hit And Run.