Did Marlins fans just make the endangered species list?

Posted by Scott Wuerz on November 14, 2012 

I think it is the nature of people in our society, who have become so used to good things all around them, to forget sometimes just how well off they are.

And this morning I can't help but feel very grateful that I am a Cardinals fan as opposed to a baseball enthusiast from the Miami region.

What the Marlins ownership did yesterday isn't just demoralizing in the sense of what goes on between the lines. It's borderline criminal, a breach of the public trust and may have very well killed professional in south Florida.

I don't say that in overzealous outrage. I think the bait and switch deal the Marlins sold the taxpayers of south Florida is nothing less than fraud.

In case you're living under a rock and hadn't heard, Miami yesterday afternoon traded two of its front end starters, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, it's star shortstop Jose Reyes, it's starting catcher John Buck and a package of other players to Toronto for prospects and sagging shortstop Yunel Escobar. And this all comes after Marlins ownership bilked taxpayers out of more than half a billion dollars to build the team a new ballpark so it could allegedly be more competitive after years of bottom feeding. The move was especially insulting because the players the Marlins invested in were all loaded to back loaded contracts. The team only paid a small portion of the total deals last year before dumping the major portion of the commitment north of the border.

The Marlins made a big show of attempting to sign Albert Pujols last winter before reallocating those resources to sign Reyes, Buehrle and former San Diego closer Heath Bell when Pujols turned down their offer. We now learn that Miami didn't give a no-trade clause to any of its free agent pick-ups because "it's against team policy." That's almost certainly the real reason Pujols turned down Miami if the Marlins' claim that they offered Albert more money than Anaheim is true.

The Marlins have had fire sales before. But nothing quite like this. It is the understatement of the eons to say that the taxpayers of the area made a huge commitment to their local nine only to be punched in the face with brass knuckles when the Marlins shed $160 million in payroll with the stroke of a pen.

How is it even possible that baseball in Miami could someday be saved. If I was a fan I know one thing is certain: I would never set foot in that ballpark again. I don't care who the Marlins sign to play for them. But how are they every going to sign anyone of substance again when players know that, win or lose, they are likely to be traded at any time.

This is no way to run a franchise. For the sake of baseball everywhere, the Marlins ought to be seized by the league and auctioned off to a new owner that would be responsible to the fans and the taxpayers.

There is absolutely no reason in the world that a town the size of Miami that's in a warm weather area that is generally baseball crazy can't be competitive both on the field and at the ticket booth. But the club's unscrupulous operation of the team, content for years to field one of the cheapest rosters in baseball while accepting revenue sharing funds from teams that are actually trying to compete in good faith, has driven away fans in droves.

Never have I been happier not to live in south Florida.

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