Earlier this year the Miami Marlins were sold from longtime owner Jeffrey Loria to a group that included former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Loria received $1.2 billion for the Marlins in spite of the fact that he consistently mismanaged the team. The Marlins have not made the playoffs since 2003, while they have not posted a winning record since 2009. There was hope that Jeter could bring the same winning formula to South Florida that helped him win five World Series Championships with the Yankees. But that hope has quickly evaporated into despair for what little bit of a fan base that the Marlins have left.
Jeter is serving as the Marlins chief executive officer and he’s overseeing the team’s day-to-day baseball operations. And in a short time Jeter has shown that he will not be winning a popularity contest in Miami.
Jeter has cleaned house in Miami which included showing the door to longtime Marlins personnel such as Tony Perez and Andre Dawson as well as former manager Jack McKeon who led the franchise to its last World Series Championship. Jeter also reportedly fired a team scout while he was undergoing cancer treatment. Since taking over the Marlins, Jeter was lukewarm at best in regards to keeping outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on the team’s roster as a trade was on the horizon.
This past season Stanton became the first player in Marlins franchise history to be named as the National League’s MVP as he batted .281 to go along with 59 home runs and 132 runs batted in. Stanton posted these insane numbers in spite of the fact that the Marlins were only able to win 77 games. But in spite of that the Marlins only finished 10 games behind the Colorado Rockies for the final wild card spot in the N.L. However instead of Jeter attempting to close the gap in order to become a contender, he has gone the other way which has become an all, but familiar tune for the Marlins.
Since the regular season ended Jeter talked of trading Stanton which saw many of Major League Baseball’s big-market teams attempting to work on deals to acquire the slugger. When Stanton realized that he would not have a future in Miami, he announced that he would not waive his no-trade clause for the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. It also appeared that the Yankees would not be in the running to acquire Stanton since he and Judge play the same position.
It then appeared that Stanton would be heading to the West Coast as both the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants were interested in his services. It appeared that it was going to be a match made in heaven for Stanton to join the Dodgers as he grew up right outside of Los Angeles in nearby Panorama City. However the deal for the Dodgers never came to fruition. The Giants were seeking make a splash after they finished the past season tied with the Detroit Tigers for the worst record in Major League Baseball, but their talks with the Marlins to acquire Stanton stalled as well.
After not being willing to waive his no-trade clause to join the Cardinals, Stanton changed his stance on St. Louis as there was now a possibility that the slugger would be heading to the Midwest. But just like it was for both the Dodgers and Giants, the Cards struck out. And when it was all said and done, Stanton would be packing his bags for the Bronx as he is the newest member of the Yankees.
In exchange for Stanton, the Marlins will be receiving second baseman Starlin Castro as well as a few low-level prospects. The Yankees are taking on the bulk of the remainder of the $295 million that is owed to Stanton over the next decade with the Marlins on the hook for just $30 million as something about this deal does not smell right.
All along Jeter was never sold on Stanton or his contract. Jeter was looking to dump Stanton’s salary, but he also wanted a king’s ransom back for the slugger. And since Jeter did not receive that while giving his former team in the Yankees a player who they really did not need, it only makes you wonder who is truly working for who as the future Hall of Famer is definitely not working for the people of Miami.
The Marlins are generally near the bottom of home attendance in Major League Baseball each season. For years Loria complained that his team struggled with attendance due to the fact that their home games were played at a football stadium. From 1993-2011, the Marlins played their home games at Hard Rock Stadium which is also the home of the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. The Marlins suffered through constant rain delays which diminished an already fickled fan base. Loria convinced the folks of Miami that a new stadium would enhance his commitment to winning. And Loria would sucker politicians in Dade County to approve his new stadium as the site of the former Orange Bowl became the new destination for the Marlins franchise.
Marlins Park opened for the 2012 Major League Baseball season as Miami had a payroll of $118 million which was seventh in baseball. However when the Marlins were only able to win 69 games in 2012 to finish last in the National League East, Loria had a fire sale similar to the ones that we saw after each of Miami’s World Series Championships. Players such as shortstop Jose Reyes and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle who were lured to Miami in free agency just a year prior were now sent to the Toronto Blue Jays, while Loria didn’t wait to the off-season to send third baseman Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers. And just like that the allure of Loria being willing to spend money on the Marlins was now gone as he could care less about the fans being that he now had his state-of-the-art stadium with the people of Dade County footing the bill for it.
Loria also pushed for the Marlins to host the Major League Baseball All-Star Game which happened this past July as this along with the new stadium and a new television deal allowed the value of his franchise to increase which became the perfect time for him to sell his team and exit stage right.
Jeter has picked up right where Loria left off from as aside from trading Stanton, second baseman Dee Gordon was traded to the Seattle Mariners last week for what equated to a bag of baseballs.
Somehow the Marlins fan base has attempted to still support this team after a fire sale that immediately followed each World Series win, along with another one in 2012, and they also had to deal with the untimely death of starting pitcher Jose Fernandez in September 2016. Stanton was the last ray of hope for the Marlins fan base, but he is gone simply because Jeter did not want to pay him.
So that sums up the history of the Marlins in a nutshell as this club has been operated by people who never have and never will care about the fans. Jeter has kept Loria’s wet dream of screwing the fans of Miami alive as he has already clinched a last place finish for the Marlins in the National League East next season, and we’re not even close to the start of spring training. There isn’t any hope for the Marlins as Jeter might as well give away outfielder Christian Yelich as well. I don’t see Castro remaining with the Marlins for that long. And whereas the Yankees still need a second baseman, I would not be surprised to see Jeter send Castro back to the Bronx as long as New York is willing to pay his airfare.
Jeter is not quite a billionaire yet, but owning a professional sports franchise will definitely accelerate that process. And like most of the wealthy and powerful, Jeter is set to become richer by making suckers out of the average working man. Jeter does not care about anyone but Jeter and the Steinbrenner Family that once employed him with the Yankees. Marlins Park will once again be a pretty, empty stadium in 2018 as the folks in South Florida will rightfully stay away. And with the poor attendance of the Marlins as well as that of the Tampa Bay Rays across the state in West Florida, it is time for Major League Baseball to reassess the situation of baseball in the Sunshine State as Florida simply needs to be reserved for spring training.