Our Florida Marlins?

Given the amount of money that state and local governments give to professional baseball teams and the very limited positive impact that teams have on local economies, we're long overdue for a close look at the relationship we have with Major League Baseball.

The public's relationship with MLB is so lopsided that maybe MLB's new marketing slogan ought to be "We put the fun in dysfunctional!" The Florida Marlins, fresh off running teams with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and conning Miami into paying for the majority of a new baseball stadium, are now saying that whether or not the payroll will go up "“will hinge on how well we draw”. Never mind that, thanks to income redistribution, the Marlins have been the most profitable team in all of baseball according to Forbes, and that the Marlins organization has been claiming that they have to run those low payrolls just to stay afloat; no, the real problem is with the fans who aren't showing up to make Jeffrey Loria even richer than he already is.

And what's even better about the current attitude is the underlying hint that things might not change even with the new stadium. It's as though the Marlins are saying "nice new stadium you're building there. It'd be a shame if we had to field a team with 29 year old rookies and 41 year old middle relievers." And they'll keep raking in their millions every year, whether or not we show.

Personally, I'd be more willing to shuck out some bucks for a Marlins game now and again if the Marlins had paid for this new stadium out of their own pockets, or if the local contribution had been limited to things like tax abatements for a limited period and maybe some help clearing the land use issues. That would show me that the Marlins have a commitment to south Florida--they'd be putting their own money at stake in the form of a stadium, much like the Giants did in San Francisco. Loria and the Marlins snuggled up to the public teat and started sucking, all while fielding a team that, were it not for the implosion of both the Mets and the Phillies in the NL East this year, would be dangling players for trade right now--and who still might. The trade deadline is at the end of the month, after all. They could get worse. And what's the public going to do about it? We've just ponied up for a brand-new stadium--we're stuck with them, whether they suck or not.

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