Time for that parade, Miami. Where the ticker-tape at? Is it me, or do I already hear the distant, joyous cacophony of pots and pans being banged with wooden spoons? Along with the rising chant of a multitude singing, “Ding dong, the witch is dead!”
Let us mark Aug. 11, 2017, as Independence for Marlins baseball fans — the day despised, longtime franchise owner Jeffrey Loria reached an agreement to sell the club and ballpark, for $1.2 billion, to the consortium led by New York venture capitalist Bruce Sherman and fronted by former Yankees icon Derek Jeter, “The Captain.”
The deal must wend its way through the usual vetting and red tape, and the closing might not come until October. But that’s OK. Parades take time to organize, right? The 16 investors in the winning group reportedly includes Michael Jordan, one of Jeter’s good superstar buds. So M.J. can bring the victory cigars.
This is what most every Marlins fan has dreamed of, including the many who pledged to never support the club as long as Loria owned it but flock back into the fold the moment he sold.
The new owners will sweep in heroically on metaphorical white steeds by virtue of not being Jeffrey Loria. Any buying group would have enjoyed that honeymoon and bounce, but especially this one. Sherman is a philanthropist and Marlins fan. Jeter is Jeter, impeccable of reputation, imprimatur of success, and a magnet, surely, to the mass of transplanted New Yorkers and Yankees fans in South Florida.
“I can always talk about Derek, a kid I’ve known since his first step in major-league spring training,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Friday as the news of the sale-agreement broke like party pinatas across South Florida. “Derek has been successful in everything he’s tried to do. There’s nothing that leads you to believe he won’t be successful [as an owner].”
Sherman will be the money man with ultimate say, akin to what Stephen Ross is with the Dolphins or Micky Arison with the Heat. But Jeter, a relatively minor investor of $25 million of his own money — and wouldn’t we all love to be so rich that $25M was seen as a minor investment! — supposedly will be the baseball man in charge of the on-field product. He’ll be the Pat Riley.
Together money-man Sherman and baseball-guy Jeter will decide what to spend on who and how to end a 14-season playoff drought, fill Marlins Park and realize South Florida’s full and untapped potential as a baseball market.
Which, of course, begs the question:
Once we’re past the giddy euphoria of “Loria’s gone,” what’s next?
Will Sherman spend more than Loria? Will Jeter direct that spending more wisely? Will the new owners pledge to keep cornerstone Giancarlo Stanton? Or will they jettison his escalating contract in a move that might be justified as financially prudent but would feel like a Loria-esque salary dump to fans? Oh, and will those disenfranchised fans who pledged to come back really do so?
One more: Does Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame career, business acumen and heft of reputation necessarily mean he knows how to run a baseball team?
Yes, that overarching question — Now what? — will loom ever larger as the sale becomes complete, power changes hands, Loria waves goodbye to the sound of one hand clapping, and Jeter is introduced as the new face of the franchise.
But that’s for later.
For now, hear the sound of those windows banging open and feel the fresh air gusting in. See the tendrils of sunlight beaming through dissipating clouds.
Remember what hope felt like.