Column: Marlins fans must feel like fools now

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 7:31 pm •  Published: November 14, 2012
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They ended up finishing last in their division, but not before Loria sent Hanley Ramirez and some other talent packing. The message then was he was giving up on the season; the message now is even clearer.

"If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm not going to figure it out for you," Loria told reporters Wednesday in Chicago at baseball's owner meetings.

It's nothing new for Loria, who spent the better part of the last decade trying to squeeze a profit out of the Marlins. According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins got more from Major League Baseball's revenue sharing than the team paid for player salaries for at least two years. At the time, Loria was crying poor while trying to get Miami-Dade to pick up most of the tab for the new ballpark.

Meanwhile, Forbes estimated earlier this year that the Marlins were worth $450 million — $300 million more than Loria paid for them 10 years ago.

If Selig had anything on his agenda other than making owners as much money as possible, he would step in. That doesn't mean vetoing the trade, but it does mean taking a stand for baseball fans in Miami.

The Marlins project to have an opening day payroll of about $34 million, barely more than what the New York Yankees will pay Alex Rodriguez next season. It would be their lowest since 2008, and well below the $59.5 million Oakland payroll that was the lowest in the majors last season.

If Selig ordered the Marlins to double that payroll next season, he could say he was acting in the best interests of baseball. That is, ordering Loria to spend enough money to put a competitive team on the field.

It's the least Selig could do after all the work that went into making sure Loria got his tricked-out new stadium. It would give fans reasons to hope, and reasons to come back.

Then again, maybe Loria has a plan of his own. Maybe he's going to use the money he's saving to sign free agent Josh Hamilton, add a few pitchers and make a run for the playoffs.

Maybe this was all some necessary tidying up to get the house in order for some new stars in Miami.

And maybe this time the wine will be on him.

___

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

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