Dont be a trader?
That is desperate. That is sad.
FoxSports Florida asked six University of Florida advertising students to concoct a marketing campaign for the networks Marlins coverage this season. One of the slogans bandied about was Dont Be a Trader, but the very double entendre is part of the Marlins problem.
It alludes to the major offseason trades and asks fans to not be a traitor to the team because of them even though the teams allegiance to fans is what is in doubt.
A big problem with the Marlins was the current brand image, understated Matt Delisle, one of the UF students on the project.
One year ago Loria seemed to have largely rehabilitated his image with Marlins fans. Now? A blog poll of mine in late February found 97.6 percent of Marlins fans would-be customers wished Loria would sell the team.
That broken image is the natural residue of an unending parade of missteps by the club since the season opened with such promise one year ago then soured almost immediately.
A year ago on Opening Night Muhammad Ali was wheeled out to the stunned silence of the crowd, showgirls on each players arms proved an embarrassment, and a loss followed.
It was downhill from there.
Manager Ozzie Guillen professed his respect for Fidel Castro, the losses mounted, and the scent of the fire sale to come was in the air as the club traded star shortstop Hanley Ramirez and his big salary.
We picked a very bad year to have a very bad year, as Samson puts it.
And it was STILL going downhill.
After the 93-loss season and requisite managerial change the team jettisoned popular Jose Reyes and longtime ace Josh Johnson in a massive trade with Toronto that made the Blue Jays World Series favorites and made Marlins fans irate, plundering the roster and slashing the player payroll from $100 million to $40 million.
Back to business as usual, in other words. Back to the bare-bones payrolls that were supposed to have been a thing of the past thanks to the new stadium.
Lorias combative full-page newspaper ads explaining himself in February did his image no good. Nor did the club threatening to sue two long-time season-ticket holders who complained about their view being obstructed by advertising.
The last star
More disconnect. More tone-deafness.
Now Giancarlo Stanton Last Star Standing will, of course, be the next to go, traded prior to hitting the free-agent market in three years.
Might Stanton even be traded this season?
I dont know, Samson said. The pause grew, and grew awkward. I would say very unlikely, he filled it in.
The constant recycling is what frustrates. Stars traded just when they get too pricey, replaced by the next wave of cheap prospects.
For the record, I do not blame Loria for the Marlins paying only $160 million toward the $635 million ballpark. His job was to strike the best deal for himself and the club. And oh did he. Miami mayor Tomas Regalado recently told Sports Illustrated that the residents of Miami were raped in the deal. But it was the politicians job to represent the residents and protect them.
What I DO blame Loria for is thinking his role in getting the new ballpark is enough. The public is paying for about three-quarters of it. His job is to put teams in it that people will pay to support.
What I DO blame Loria for is crying about losing money when baseballs revenue sharing and TV contracts provide such massive income streams even apart from the new ballpark.
What I DO blame Loria for is retreating from the implied promise that the new ballpark would mean bigger payrolls and competitive teams.
The Marlins have neither in 2013, and so their fans the loyalists and the estranged alike have a decision to make.
Some will decide that the Marlins and their long-term future here are bigger than the current owner, and that they are cheering for the players and the uniform, not for the men in the suits.
Others will decide on what they see as a moral stand to not pay their money in support of an owner they see as an uncaring liar.
Im not sure which is right, but I know this.
It isnt as simple as Samson saying fans should look past it and just enjoy a baseball game again.
Not when the people in charge of this team make that so much harder and more complicated than it ought to be.