This week, Miami was the epicenter of Major League Baseball as the 88th MLB All-Star Game descended upon Marlins Park. No one had been looking forward to the attention more than Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who long pegged his taxpayer-robbing stadium deal on a pledge from MLB to bring the showcase to town.
Now that the All-Star Game banners have been packed up and the big painted star has been erased from center field, it's back to reality. Loria is still the owner of the Marlins, and Fish fans' tormented life goes on as it has since 2003.
Well, it's high time that all changes. The moment is right for Loria to sell the team already and take his no-good, fan-suing, taxpayer-swindling ass the hell out of here. Here's why:
1. He got his farewell party. Now it's time to go.
In hindsight, Loria has been planning his own going-away party for years. The big All-Star bash had all the feeling of a last "Look at me!" before he waddles off into the sunset. It's been the worst-kept secret in Miami that Loria would eventually sell the team the moment he was no longer contractually obligated to give the City of Miami a dime of the profits, but it would have been tough to imagine things would ever go this well for him. You see, 2017 was always planned to be one long walk to the cash-out booth for the Fish owner, who never had any intentions of bringing the taxpayers along for the ride. Even so, the stars have aligned even more perfectly than Loria could have envisioned as he gasses up the getaway car.
Fair enough. You won, you greedy bastard. Now get away with the loot already.
2. Loria is making a mockery of the team-selling process.
Even as rumors have swirled that the Marlins were close to finalizing a deal with construction magnate Jorge Mas, the deal still hasn't gotten done. Reports are that Loria continues to stay firm on his inflated asking price of $1.3 billion.
The truth is, Loria seems hell-bent on delaying the inevitable so he can inch closer to the March 2018 finish line that would negate the 5 percent cut of the profits that Miami taxpayers would be due. The reality is, Loria is on his way out of town. Whether he has $1.17 billion or $1.21 billion in his pocket, it's happening soon enough. It's time for MLB to step in and put an end to this process. Loria is stalling, and the buyers are obviously growing less enthused about putting up with his shit.
3. Loria needs to let new owners decide what they can afford.
In an effort to make the Marlins a sexier sell, Loria has kept a few of his franchise's top players, like Giancarlo Stanton, locked into monster contracts. But most of those contracts are cleverly back-loaded, so it's the team's next owners who will really foot the bills to keep the big-name players in Little Havana. Loria signed those contracts knowing full well he wouldn't be around when the real money came due in 2018 and beyond.
If Loria doesn't plan to be here in 2018, he shouldn't light the place on fire on his way out the door. Let the next owners decide what is best for their pockets. Loria has made hundreds of millions of dollars in Miami. Ruining the current roster to make a few more bucks on top of it all is just pouring salt in the wound.
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4. Miami desperately needs a baseball reboot. It'll happen only when Loria is gone.
Baseball in South Florida was once a beautiful thing. The Marlins were the young darlings of the sports scene. Anything they did felt like an underdog rising to the top. Fans were happy to trust the process because they truly believed the team was doing its damnedest to win. Future stars littered the Marlins' minor-league system. Baseball was healthy and happy in South Florida, even after the team went from the underdog to World Series champ to torn-down mess. All that was missing was a new ballpark.
Now the only thing fans have is the ballpark. Loria leaving would mean many fans would return to support their team. Baseball in Miami could get a reboot. The organization would get to start over for many fans who have given up on baseball. Suddenly, it wouldn't feel dirty to go to a baseball game anymore.
5. Enough is enough: Miamians want their baseball franchise back.
Since 2003, Marlins players and their fans have dealt with the black cloud of Loria over their heads every game. Time and time again, one of the first things out of people's mouths when they talk about the Marlins is "yeah, but... Loria." Players are willing to come to Miami in free agency, but they certainly aren't taking any discounts to do so. The Fish are constantly battling to win games in spite of Loria, not because of him. New ownership must come into Miami yesterday and clean up Loria's mess with a giant pooper-scooper. It's overdue.