In My Opinion | David J. Neal

The joke is on us: Jeffrey Loria has his stadium and dumps his star players

 
WEB VOTE Do you agree with the Miami Marlins' purge of their veteran roster?

dneal@MiamiHerald.com

Shooting down the Dolphin Expressway a couple of weeks ago, I glanced over at Marlins Park. It seemed to be laughing.

I couldn’t exactly determine the type of mirth in those brief few seconds.

Now, as the Marlins deal pitchers Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle and their best position player, Jose Reyes, to finish a roster cutdown that began at midseason, I can identify it as the sinister belly laugh of a sentient Death Star-like construct.

“My master, Lord Loria, merely dangled a few promises before you to fool you into helping to create me! Now, the mighty tractor beam of my debt will suck the money from your present and future pockets as you slave while I make Lord Loria ever richer and more powerful! BWAAAA-HA-HA-HA!”

Whichever, the joke stays on us.

Marlins fans still pouting over 1997 now have something else to spend 15 years (or, however long it’s going to take to pay off that stadium debt) grumbling about.

Hey, at least Wayne Huizenga bought a World Series title team before breaking it up when he saw the Marlins couldn’t win on the bottom line.

You got a World Series championship after five seasons and spent at least twice that long pouting about the breakup.

That’s just being a bitter ex-spouse.

Pulling plug

The art collector, through his player buyer Larry Beinfest, bought a 69-win team that began disintegrating shortly after Memorial Day and finished 29 games out of first.

Management pulled out the electric carving knife on this turkey in July, trading Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to eventual American League champion Detroit (where former Marlin Miguel Cabrera was winning the first Triple Crown since the Summer of Love) and Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers.

Now, be bitter, fans. That is someone who married you for your money.

Johnson, once seen as a longtime franchise ace, never fully recovered from the shoulder and back problems that ended his 2011 season early.

Buerhle wound up the Marlins best pitcher this season, going 13-13 with a 3.74 ERA, best among Marlins starters.

Reyes, the 2011 National League batting champion with the Mets, hit .287, had a .347 on-base percentage and stole 40 bases.

Worse fiasco

This is the biggest fiasco season in the Marlins 20 seasons.

Worse than 1994 when all of baseball, management and players, blew up the World Series.

Worse than 1998, the year after the selloff.

At least that year had the memory of a World Series, the weirdness of Mike Piazza as a Marlin for five games as a rest stop between the Dodgers and Mets; and the video of a woman performing the most athletic feat at a Marlins game that season on her guy.

Many issues

This year lacked such entertainment despite the follies that The Franchise never fully mined. The Marlins brass bought Ozzie Guillen’s mind and personality, and were shocked they also bought Guillen’s PR-plummeting potpourri of a mouth. Who knew? Then, after Guillen’s Fidel Castro comments, the Marlins forced Guillen into an apology news conference that embarrassingly echoed similar government-run media sessions in fascist countries.

They bought, then traded, Heath Bell, a closer who couldn’t close a drawer. Their once solid minor-league system got revealed as suffering from a dearth of talent.

With that money, Beinfest spent poorly.

Bad moves

Earlier Tuesday, I envisioned Beinfest as Charlie Brown in a Peanuts strip from the 1970s. Charlie Brown says to Lucy, “This is the time of year when teams improve themselves with a few shrewd trades.” Lucy says, “Good idea. Why don’t you trade yourself?”

Charlie Brown winds up trading Snoopy to Peppermint Patty’s team for five players. Snoopy guilt trips Charlie Brown into tearing up the deal just as Peppermint Patty shows up to say the five players said they’d quit baseball before playing for Charlie Brown’s team.

Wonder if those Blue Jays would feel that way about the Marlins without the money.

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