Today is Opening Day. And that’s fun. The new-look Miami Marlins are poised to make a run in the National League and get back to the playoffs with a revamped lineup that includes contract extensions for Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich while adding the likes of Martin Prado, Dee Gordon, and Ichiro Suzuki.
Exciting, right? Right?!
Ah, the siren song of a revamped Marlins roster. It never fails to get Fish fans all atwitter, dreaming of postseason berths, wild cards, and sugar plums.
But in the euphoria of having Stanton and the imminent return of Jose Fernandez, Marlins fans must not forget the all-seeing dark eye of the Sauron-like nefarious toadman known as Jeffrey Loria. Yes, the Marlins have a new look and, with it, new hope. But Loria still owns this team. And if there’s one thing we should never forget, it's that Loria is constant. Death. Taxes. And the Ultimate Con Man.
Don’t be fooled, Marlins fans. Don’t be duped into thinking just because Stanton got the biggest contract in MLB history that Loria is suddenly a different man. Loria is still Loria. So when the Marlins kick off the 2015 season today at 4 p.m., keep in mind that you will get screwed again. It’s only a matter of time. Here are five reasons why:
5. He’s an Opportunistic Weasel
Loria knows he’s hated. He knows he’s unpopular. But he can’t resist treating his ownership like a fiefdom. What’s a narcissistic hedgehog like Loria do to? Unable to resist the urge of celebrating Loria, Loria trotted Loria out in a golf cart from center field on the night Marlins Stadium had its first-ever game. To keep the fans from inevitably booing him, he shielded himself with Muhammad Ali, who is in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s. Who’s going to boo a shaking, ill Ali? No one, of course. Which shows Loria is not only a coward but a calculating one to boot.
4. He’s a Meddler
Loria, who knows next to nothing about baseball and cares more about aesthetics and art and a pastel-colored stadium, has on more than one occasion decided he knows more about the day-to-day operation of a baseball team than actual baseball people. In 2013, he changed the starting pitchers for a double-header at the last minute, which pissed off Marlins players. Loria has also made his people sign crap players like John Buck and Heath Bell when his baseball people wanted nothing to do with those players. And he’s already had major run-ins with managers (who quickly became former managers) Joe Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez. Girardi and Loria famously got into a shouting match during a game, and Loria fired Girardi after he won Manager of the Year. Gonzalez said Loria would never be satisfied with any manager he hires.
3. He’s a Revenue-Sharing Fanboy
Since his days as owner of the Montreal Expos to his current status as Marlins owner, Loria has shown a blatant pattern of being a cheap bastard who relies on MLB’s revenue-sharing model to make a buck while keeping salary on his roster as low as humanly possible. Outside of the lowly Houston Astros, no team has consistently had more of a nickel-and-dime roster than the Marlins. Thanks to MLB’s screwy system, where “small market” teams get to share in “big market” teams’ pie, the Marlins make money even if they suck. And suck they have. And Loria has given as many fucks as he’s given multimillion-dollar contracts (i.e., — none).
2. The Marlins Spending Money on Players Is a Load of Crap
Oh look. The Marlins gave Giancarlo Stanton a megadeal. Jeffrey Loria is a changed man! He’s finally spending big! Or is he? Loria pulled this same act when he signed Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez and Mark Buehrle a couple of seasons ago before shipping them all out for spare parts and a bag of peanuts. Loria called it “pressing the reset button” at the time. Things just didn’t work out. But hey, we spend big money! You can’t say we didn’t sign big-name free agents to big contracts!
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But look closer at those free-agent contracts and you’ll notice a trend. They’re always backloaded. Contracts like the one he gave Reyes and Buehrle don’t always pay the player big money until much later in the agreement, which gives Loria the power to unload said players before he has to pony up. Pay them the smaller part of the contract the first year or two, and then trade them away so that the next owner is on the hook for the more lucrative part of the deal. This has been Loria’s M.O. since his days with the Expos. Oh, and guess who Loria’s latest backloaded contract player is? That’s right. One Giancarlo Stanton. Of course, Stanton has a no-trade clause. But he’s indicated in the past that if Miami doesn’t build a winner around him, he’ll bolt. Do not be shocked if Stanton happens to get fed up at the lack of production and opts out just before the richest part of his deal kicks in down the road. It’s a bait-and-switch scam, and Loria has done it to us again with Stanton.
1. He’s a Con Artist
He said he was broke (when documents showed he wasn’t). He threatened to move the team to San Antonio, saying that city was serious about taking the Marlins (when it wasn’t). He said he couldn’t afford a new stadium himself (when he could). And the City of Miami bought it. It gave him a new stadium on the taxpayers’ dime in one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated in Miami (and that’s saying something). Now, thanks to Loria’s deceptive, two-faced, duplicitous scheme, Miami is on the hook for $2.4 BILLION through 2048.
This is the guy we’re suddenly going to trust to make the Marlins a contender for years to come?
Uh. Yeah. Sure. OK.