Maybe it's not even a question of whether anyone out there likes the Miami Marlins. Maybe the question is whether anyone doesn't think the team is a pox upon the house of Major League Baseball. If it wasn't bad enough that most Miamians don't particularly have warm feelings for the team, CBS Sports reports that owners and executives of other MLB teams are getting sick of having to send the team money.
"They're a joke," one unnamed exec bluntly told CBS' Dan Heyman.
And they're a particularly costly joke at that.
Baseball may be the most American sport, but the league has a form of team socialism in which money from profitable teams is sent to money-losing teams. The Marlins are said to be the team receiving the most money under the revenue-sharing agreement, and richer teams are sick of sending their money the Marlins' way.
The fact that the Marlins received a shiny new taxpayer-funded stadium is also a particular sticking point now that other teams are struggling to attract public support for new stadiums. Heyman doesn't mention it, but Marlins Park may go down in history as something of a tipping point in this history of local governments sending hundreds of millions of dollars to sports teams to build new facilities. It's the worst-case scenario, and politicians elsewhere are likely aware of what happened to many of the Miami politicos who supported the stadium deal.
Voters recalled Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and a county commissioner. Other politicians who supported the stadium deal also saw their political careers cut short. Former Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, a stadium supporter, was crushed in the 2009 Miami mayoral election by then-fellow Commissioner Tomás Regalado. Regalado's biggest campaign plank: He didn't support the stadium.
So the Fish certainly have muddied the waters of stadium deals and still aren't making money. Rival executives are also furious that the team continues firing coaches and executives with millions of dollars left on their contracts, money the team still has to pay.
Though, Heyman does reveal that owner Jeffrey Loria himself is actually losing money. He's written checks to cover some of the team's financial losses in recent seasons. The team also has particularly paltry television and radio deals.
Heyman, however, ends up pointing the finger at Miami fans.
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"There have been mistakes, but the bigger issue may actually be the difficult Miami market, which disregards teams that are non-winners," he writes. "The Heat have been inconsistent in drawing fans in the years when they didn't have Shaquille O'Neal (2005-07) and LeBron James (2011-14), and the Dolphins don't consistently sell out."
Uh, Heat attendance continues to be fine. The team finished sixth in home attendance last year, above teams such as the Lakers and Celtics in a LeBron-less year that didn't even end in a trip to the playoffs. So far this season, the team is seventh. Dolphins attendance is troubling, but it's not the travesty that Marlins attendance is.
Understandably, other owners are upset about the team's financial struggles, but the Marlins aren't going to attract more fans by spending any less money than they already are. The team signed a 40-year lease agreement and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. So unless a moneyed new owner buys the team, spending revenue-sharing money wisely and effectively is the team's only hope of turning things around.