April 12, 2006

Would a base on balls be a Riverwalk?: Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is again making overtures about moving his club, this time to San Antonio, Texas. Is the home of The Alamo a reasonable destination, or are there better options?

posted by wfrazerjr to baseball at 10:06 AM - 38 comments

I think there would be a lot less hijacking teams and taking them elsewhere if they had local ownership. The reason the Marlins have such a crappy stadium deal is because it was negotiated by the prior owner with himself. Loria knew about the deal before he bought the team. Now he wants someone else to make it work for him. $100 million and free land is a steep price for South Florida to pay.

posted by bperk at 10:51 AM on April 12

I have never seen Jeffrey Loria and Lonie Glieberman in the same room at the same time. It is time to end the charade.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:04 AM on April 12

He has balls asking for free land and 100m when he's putting a 15m team on the field. And I totally would expect the Marlins to trade Dontrelle this season too, knocking 5m off that 15.

posted by jerseygirl at 11:12 AM on April 12

Loria is a world class jackass. MLB should just contract the Marlins and pay him to go away.

posted by mbd1 at 11:15 AM on April 12

This is great. That must happen before the Marlins can decide whether to accept San Antonio's offer to ask voters to extend a hotel and car rental tax to help finance a stadium. So the stadium won't be paid for by residents, it'll be paid for by visitors/tourists. Well, "81% of San Antonio’s overnight leisure travel comes from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. 76% come from Texas alone, with Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth being the top markets." [pdf] Look whose fan bases would be picking up the check. Brilliant.

posted by BullpenPro at 11:33 AM on April 12

Sorry, my link was bad. Try this: [pdf] It's just a market research study on San Antonio tourism. Just so you don't think I was making the whole thing up. Somebody else might have, but not me.

posted by BullpenPro at 11:40 AM on April 12

And I totally would expect the Marlins to trade Dontrelle this season too, knocking 5m off that 15. The story's already out there that he will be moved before the 7/31 deadline. The Marlins' payroll is around $14 million and "they" figure Dontrelle stands to make $7 million in arbitration next year. How Loria is allowed to do this is beyond me. Isn't the revenue sharing well above $14 million? They need to enforce a salary floor.

posted by yerfatma at 12:06 PM on April 12

I think it's cute that people still think that Loria just wants to own a team and succeed with it. Uh, no. This is his job - to take shitty franchises, remove any lingering value, destroy any and all community goodwill that might be left, and thus remove any impediments to contracting or moving them. If Loria comes to your town, think of how people used to respond to a meeting request from Norm on Cheers. Panic! Your team is about to disappear.

posted by mikelbyl at 12:15 PM on April 12

They win two world series championships and they still have attendance what makes you think they still might have attendance problems whereever they move that's what they should be concerned about the most

posted by luther70 at 12:30 PM on April 12

The Marlins will never succeed in Florida with their current stadium situation; the locals voted it down even after another WS win. At this point, Loria owes the local Florida fans nothing - he has every right to pursue a better situation, and their are localities that would happily help him build a new stadium and support the team.

posted by asica at 12:45 PM on April 12

Loria is for all intents and puroses an employee of MLB. He dismantles baseball teams for a living. He is Richard Gere from Pretty Woman before the change of heart that only the love of a hooker that looks like Julia Roberts can provide. Frankly, I think he hates baseball. And he's a world class liar. I trust there is a special place in hell for Jeffrey Loria.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:47 PM on April 12

"He has balls asking for free land and 100m when he's putting a 15m team on the field. And I totally would expect the Marlins to trade Dontrelle this season too, knocking 5m off that 15." This is amusing to me. Given the awful stadium they are playing in, the constant threat of evening (game time) T-storms in Florida, the Marlins clearly need a new stadium - look at their attendance figures over the last 10 years. It's awful how little support that team gets. They've won TWO recent WS championships (last 10 years), and yet get no support. There is no reason for Loria to continue to lose money year after year when the local community will not help the team succeed. The right move is to get the team out of an area where there is no support for it. Success for this team has NEVER, in the past, translated into increased fan support or a better environment to play (i.e. a much needed stadium)

posted by asica at 12:50 PM on April 12

Asica - after the Marlins won a Championship in their, what, 4th year - the entire team was dismantled. Talk about an affront to the fans. They guaranteed the franchise would likely fail then and there. Then, they win another one - and guess what happens again. This franchise has been laughably, horribly run and it fans considered unimportant at every turn. What self-respecting fan would support a team like that?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:59 PM on April 12

Weedy, I was thinking the exact same thing!

posted by yzelda4045 at 01:05 PM on April 12

I think the whole MLB business structure became (through the 90s, and partly driven by the dot-com and Enron booms) an elaborate way for profit-driven businessmen to extract freebies from cities and call it "community support". That's why Montreal was never going to happen, because no matter to what levels the attendance figures rose or fell, the government was never going to build and essentially GIVE a stadium to anyone. Nor will they in Toronto, if they ever decide that the Skydome isn't adequate. The problem for MLB is that more and more cities are going to say the same thing - NO. While there are still marginally reasonable markets kicking around, MLB can just play the musical chairs game, but at some point they'll run out of empty chairs, and it's going to change everything. It always mystifies me that in the free-market capitalist US everyone falls all over themselves to GIVE billionaires freebie subsidies and corporate welfare. And congratulate themselves while doing it!

posted by mikelbyl at 01:12 PM on April 12

Loria's actions speak volumes about how he doesn't consider the fans at all. Don't throw out the "Oh this is amusing, he has no public support" stuff. He's reaping what he's been sowing. You don't build fan support by throwing a shitty team out there, and when you do accidentally get a winning team, dismantle it immediately in a firesale to the highest bidder. To put it in very basic terms: There is no history or lore with this team. It's not a team where generations of fathers and sons have gathered to root for the starting nine. Again: there is no built in loyalty. You have to work for it. It's a new franchise that needed time to develop and grow -- that goes for the actual team and the fanbase. He never lets that come to fruition. Instead of nurturing even the small fanbase that starts to accumulate with some of the young, promising players the Marlins have had, Loria fucks it up, undoing any fan relationships the team had. He has absolutely no sense of customer business relations. He is his own enemy. Success for this team has NEVER, in the past, translated into increased fan support or a better environment to play (i.e. a much needed stadium) To turn around after basically saying, "We're not going to attempt to put a good team out there or spend any of our own Billionaires money" and then ask for an outrageous amount of money is bullshit. Why should they throw good money after bad? He's not trying or making an effort, so why should the public?

posted by jerseygirl at 01:20 PM on April 12

At this point, Loria owes the local Florida fans nothing Other than the franchise he owns which wouldn't exist if it weren't for Floridian interest in baseball. And the ticket dollars. And media revenues. And everything else. I don't know how you can declare baseball won't work when it's never been given a chance. Two championships followed by two bake sales is not a controlled experiment.

posted by yerfatma at 01:53 PM on April 12

I'm starting to agree with Weedy. Loria is secretly on MLB's payroll, with the job of removing teams from cities which don't provide adequate government support. MLB's plan must be something like this:

  1. Identify small-market team in need of a new stadium.
  2. Request 100% public funding for new stadium.
  3. Note rejection of public funding request.
  4. Install Jeffrey Loria as owner.
  5. Allow Loria to reduce team value, kill community goodwill, alienate fans, and generally dismantle the team.
  6. Identify city with willingness to fund a new stadium.
  7. Move Loria's team to new city.
  8. Find a new owner. Alternately, just take over ownership of the team.
  9. Repeat from Step #1 until all MLB teams are wholly funded by government.
  10. Dispose of Jeffrey Loria.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 03:09 PM on April 12

Let him go elsewhere. Hold another city ransom. Eventually the greed has got to stop.

posted by odtaylor3 at 03:36 PM on April 12

DrJohnEvans you better hope nobody from the MLB finds out that you have figured out their master plan or else you will come home from work one day and find a hitman waiting for you in your bedroom. I am interested that no one has mentioned Oklahoma City as a destination for the Marlins or for the Penguins. As evident from the fans support of the Hornets in the NBA, there seems to be a potentially strong fanbase there. I would think that any pro franchise that is in the cellar could potentially do well there.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:54 PM on April 12

It's time for MLB to begin the contraction process, starting with the Marlins and any other team that maintains a payroll under 60 million. My guess is at least four teams would go. Then the minor leagues can be re-stocked with players who don't belong in the majors.

posted by YANKFAN1 at 04:06 PM on April 12

Four? Try fourteen.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 05:14 PM on April 12

In all due respect, that list, while well-written and succinct, was exactly what many of us said years ago. (Possibly you were one of us?) When we pointed out Loria was a franchise killer many people said Montréal fans didn't deserve a team. I can't tell you how many Marlins fans and journalists I personally warned when MLB dropped the Loria bomb on Florida. They didn't listen then. The fine folks in San Antonio aren't going to listen now. selflink?

posted by ?! at 07:44 PM on April 12

Here in Florida OK City is often mentioned as a fine place for the Fish to go swim.

posted by ?! at 07:45 PM on April 12

loria is an art dealer...buy low sell high..and yes there's too many teams..the nats should have been buried..the marlin's, unfortunely,mlb needs to be taken away from loria,then buried as well..i mean the yanks spend 200 million on their payroll,loria spends 15?? an he's got no money? a tragic farce..

posted by ktown at 07:46 PM on April 12

Does anyone think that San Antonio can/will support a baseball team...to the degree that a team needs for survival? No offense to the people of San Antonio, but would they realize what they are getting into if they did move the Marlins into town? I for one hope they NEVER vote for a baseball stadium. If an owner wants to relocate...he should foot the entire bill! Certainly it would be a monumental task to both pay for your own stadium AND build a winning team...or maintain a mediocre one. The owner should prove to the city he wants to relocate to, that even if he starts out losing when he gets there, that he will stick it out and not only build a winning team, but show the city that the team deserves to have a loyal fan base. As a die hard Astros fan my entire life, I have seen them truly suck at various times and through the owner(s) staying committed to the fans/ city...(not to mention still making tons of money winning or losing) turned Houston from a football town to a competitive baseball town....hey owners...forget your money, show me the commitment.

posted by astrorocket at 08:35 PM on April 12

Wow, I can't count. I mean, eight. Ah, nobody's paying attention to the one-comment wonder anyway. Why do I bother?

posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:36 PM on April 12

I am paying attention. I've just learned to trust what you write without always checking the link. I say force Loria to move the team to Montréal! Now, that's comment no one will pay attention to...

posted by ?! at 11:01 PM on April 12

You can count me among the conspiracy theorists who thoroughly distrust the intentions of Jeffrey Loria. I have to say, though, that I wouldn't bad mouth the ownership based on their handling of the Marlins. True, they've had two fire sales. But they've also had two championship clubs. The fire sale after the first one put together all the pieces they needed for the second, and their most recent one has their lineup stocked with top drawer youngsters who could very easily provide another ring before too long. Perhaps the argument is that the Marlins should be able to produce a pennant contender every year, but if you concede that they are a small market club then I say their doing better than any team run by Billy Beane or the like. I would guess there are a dozen fan bases, maybe more, that would like to suffer the way the Marlins fans have the last ten years. DrJohn, if you had waited until morning, you would have found yourself corrected right here. I'm reading you. And, ?! (can I call you ?!), if you force Loria to move his team to Montréal, then you have a team in Montréal owned by Loria. It's deja vu all over again. Be careful what you wish for...

posted by BullpenPro at 11:11 PM on April 12

Oh no. This time we'll be ready for him. I'll have agents to help him, uh, adjust to life in the beautiful province. Anyway, I took a look at DrJohn's numbers and the Devil Rays won it all last year. I'm talking about the Most Efficient team award. In other words: Who had to pay the least per win in 2005? The Devil Rays were best with $442,971.15 per win and the Yankees were worst at $2,192,703.34. That's $1,749,732.19 more than the Rays. The most efficient were the Rays, the Indians, and the Brewers. The least efficient were the Mariners, Red Sox, and the Yankees. You can see the whole list here. (self link) -- Please scroll way down. Yes, I do have too much time on my hands.

posted by ?! at 11:54 PM on April 12

Those numbers are interesting, but my gut reaction is that they're a little deceptive. The common baseball theory is that every team is going to win 50 and lose 50 games -- it's what you do in those remaining 62 games that matters. I wonder, if you assumed this to be true, what the dollars per win totals would be if you only counted those over 50. Of course, this challenges not only how much time you REALLY have, but whether or not you are willing to make a follow-up post that IS baseball related (why on Earth anybody would have to apologize for writing about baseball is totally beyond me...).

posted by BullpenPro at 12:17 AM on April 13

I did it. Too much time. Conceded. I'll just post a digest here: CLE: $965,174 (per win over 50) MIL: $1,288,220 OAK: $1,458,572 TOR: $1,523,983 CWS: $1,534,244 ... TAM: $1,745,827 ... BOS: $2,744,558 ... CHC: $3,001,135 NYM: $3,069,873 ... DET: $3,290,095 SFG: $3,607,980 SEA: $4,618,649 NYY: $4,629,040 KCR: $6,146,833

posted by BullpenPro at 12:55 AM on April 13

It's time for MLB to begin the contraction process, starting with the Marlins and any other team that maintains a payroll under 60 million. That's the dumbest thing I've heard yet.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:53 AM on April 13

Obviously I went to bed too early. Nice numbers BPP. It still shows the Indians and Brewers did more with less. Personally, I'd love to see more equality in baseball, but I don't believe it will suddenly make the Rays contenders. Some organizations are just better at putting together a team that wins.

posted by ?! at 08:17 AM on April 13

Thanks ?! and BPP, but I wasn't being self-deprecatory, only asking myself why I was bothering to correct a poster with only one comment. Then I checked and saw he had six. So I stand corrected there too! That's a pretty nifty analysis, BPP. I like it.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 08:46 AM on April 13

That is a pretty cool metric since it blames bad teams and overspenders equally. It'd be nice if the Lahman database contained salaries for players (I'm assuming it doesn't, but I haven't looked at it in a year or two) so you could run this historically. You'd have to adjust it to something like dollars per win over 50 divided by average team salary to account for the increase in overall salaries.

posted by yerfatma at 09:18 AM on April 13

On the incremental salary cost per win metrics, it should be noted (and I know certain authors have looked at this issue) that the next step in the analysis is whether the incremental win is worth the cost spent. And in that regard, not all wins are created equal. The win that pushes a team into the playoffs is worth a lot more (in terms of additional revenues) than other wins. I know that's a different analysis than the pure incremental cost/win (over the 50 games a team of replacement-level players would presumably win), but it's another wrinkle to consider.

posted by holden at 01:37 PM on April 13

Is that meaningful data? The next step would be to assign additional value to wins over division opponents as they get you closer to winning your division, though the Wild Card probably makes that moot (and the idea of measuring the value of wins in re: qualifiying for the playoffs at all seems hard to do). Why is the 90th win more valuable than the 1st? You need one to get the other and the only thing special about the 90th win is that the game was scheduled later in the year. With the advent of the Wild Card, I can't see meaningful differences between wins.

posted by yerfatma at 02:19 PM on April 13

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