What Are The Marlins Doing That The Red Sox Aren’t?

Posted by Kurt Smith on Sunday, November 18, 2012

OK, so of course you know about the big blockbuster trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins, in which the Marlins have dumped several large salaried stars like Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Jose Reyes in exchange for some much cheaper young ballplayers.

Here’s my two cents on it.

First, forget that the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County paid for the lion’s share of the brand new ballpark in Miami, and now their owner has gotten rid of a big chunk of the team’s payroll. I know it matters, just put it aside for a second; I’ll get back to it.

What are the Marlins doing that the Red Sox aren’t? Both teams were expected to contend for the division title in 2012. Both teams had a new manager and a big payroll. When the dust cleared, both teams lost 93 games and finished last.

The Red Sox let Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez go, they fired their manager after one season, and are now trying to rebuild. So what are the Marlins doing differently? Massachusetts taxpayers may not have paid for a new ballpark in Boston, but the Red Sox at the moment are still among the most expensive tickets in baseball.

I’m not saying the outrage at the Marlins is entirely unjustified, but why isn’t there the same vitriol directed at the Red Sox? Where are the writers—like Peter Gammons, a New England native, who tweeted that Florida Senator Marco Rubio should be investigating the vote of county commissioners and their bank accounts—demanding investigations and that the wrath of Selig be brought down on the Red Sox?

When you put the new ballpark aside, the trade is not that much of an outrage. It might even have been welcomed by Marlins fans otherwise. When a club underachieves the way the Marlins and Red Sox did in 2012, the reaction isn’t usually to just trade one guy or to fire the manager. Most people would agree that a complete overhaul is needed.

I’m not defending Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, the man who played a big part in the Expos’ departure from Montreal. But I can’t say what I would have done differently. Why shell out a massive payroll to finish last? Especially when Marlins Park, in its first season, was among the lowest in attendance in the first season of a new ballpark since 2000. It’s not like the Marlins were rewarded at the gate for the money they spent.

But there is the matter of that beautiful new ballpark, funded largely by local taxpayers. It’s understandable that taxpayers might be outraged that after one season in an expensive new venue, the owner that demanded the ballpark be built and paid for with taxpayer money took an axe to the team’s payroll.

Many reporters are repeating the mantra that Loria demanded a ballpark in order to be competitive. I don’t know if that’s true or not; it may be. But as I recall, a bigger reason for the retractable roof Marlins Park being built was the weather in Miami, and how 100-degree heat, 100% humidity and daily thunderstorms in the summer made Joe Robbie/Dolphin/Sun Life Stadium a terrible place to see a ballgame.

But even if team quality was a selling point, the Marlins weren’t competitive in 2012. High payroll does not necessarily equal a championship team…something many teams, like the Marlins and Red Sox and even the Yankees, are finding out the hard way.

Now, looking at it from what I do here for baseball fans, I can say that this should make Marlins tickets cheaper, certainly so on the secondary market. The Marlins were already offering some pretty good deals to see a high-priced team in a beautiful new venue. As a fan, I would rather pay less for a ticket to see a team that is expected to stink than pay more to see a team that is expected to contend and doesn’t. At least it costs less to get into the venue and enjoy a ballgame. I think any Red Sox season ticket holder would agree. So why the outrage? Why not wait and see if this team has a strong future?

Loria may be an SOB. I hear that he is a lot. He probably shouldn’t be a popular figure after what he did to Expos fans. But since the Marlins entered the league in 1993, they’ve won two World Series. That’s more than the Dodgers, Angels, Tigers, and Rangers combined—and none of those teams are shy about throwing money at free agents. The team has done some things right.

I truly do understand taxpayers who paid for the ballpark being upset. I don’t think taxpayers should ever be funding ballparks, although I also think there are far more egregious wastes of taxpayers’ money.

But think of it this way. Would you rather pay more to see an underachieving team, or pay less to see a team perform about as well as you’d expect? Again, think of the Red Sox. Should they have held on to the expensive core of a team that lost 93 games? Remember, the money for that payroll ultimately comes from fans.

Wait and see. Some baseball people are saying that the Marlins did well in this deal. I don’t know. If they did, fans may see a contender in a great new ballpark without having to break the bank.

And the Blue Jays look like a great team on paper now, but so did the Marlins last year.

Tags: fenway park  marlins park  boston red sox  miami marlins 
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