Friday, November 23, 2012

What are Loria's real motivations?

The recent fire sale of Marlins talent has many in South Florida howling. All the old insults such as "carpetbagger" have resurfaced and are being hurled at Jeffrey Loria. Now I have no reason to defend the guy but in trying to determine what his real motivations are I think it's important to remember some very relevant facts of some facts.

 1. In 1999 Loria bought 24% of the Montreal Expos for $12 Million. He managed to acquire 94% of the team when the other shareholders didn't answer margin calls. So here's a guy who becomes a major league owner (barely) with $12 million and change.

 2. In 2002 he sold the Expos to MLB for $120 million. He didn't get to pocket the gain however as he then bought the Marlins for $158.5 million. Do the math. He was $38.5 million short so MLB LENT him the money.

 3. In 2003 he signed Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez for a one year/$10 million contract that was PAID OVER THREE YEARS

 4. In 2009 the deal for the construction of the new Marlins ballpark was finalized. The Marlins agreed to contribute $125.2 million (roughly 20% of the construction cost). In order to pay this money the Marlins BORROWED $35 million from the county.

Now, all of the above instances suggest a guy who is playing in a high stakes game he can't really afford. Does this mean he doesn't want to win? I don't know. I think he wants to be a baseball owner, I think he wants to win. I think he wants the ballpark full so he can field a competitive team but let's face it, he gambled in 2012 and lost. The team underperformed on the field and at the box office.

Some have characterized this fire sale as Loria putting $100 million into his pocket but that assumes he has $100 million lying around. I'd say the reason for the fire sale is precisely because he doesn't have $100 million lying around and nothing in his history suggests that he has $100 million lying around. I believe he's trying to save his ownership stake in the team because he's leveraged to the hilt. Does it suck for us fans? Yes. Would it be better to have a deep pocketed owner? Yes. But let's look up the road at the Dolphins. They've had deep pocketed owners since Joe Robbie died and it hasn't translated into winning.

I'm not ready to make the guy into the devil because he's juggling money trying to stay in the game as long as he can. The fact is that Jeffrey Loria bought this team when nobody else wanted it. He made some wild gambles like the aforementioned signing of Pudge, won a World Series and got the ballpark built in almost impossible political environment. All from a $12 million investment. I can't say for sure what's in his heart but on a certain level I have have to admire him.

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