12.10.07

Introducing The Latest Addition To The Florida Marlins P.R. Department, Dan Le Batard

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 2:53 pm by

(Marlins prez David Samson – hands up, everyone who’d like him to handle their food)

“How many of us would like somebody who doesn’t spend any money on our business not only telling us how to run that business but getting very angry when we dare to try to maximize our profits by cutting costs?” asks Jeffrey Loria apologist Dan Le Batard in Monday’s Miami Herald. And I guess that depends on how many of us are lucky enough to own a business that has an anti-trust exemption.

Think of the Marlins as a restaurant. They’ve been making excellent food for a long time. But the rent is too high. And they spent too much on ingredients in the early years to try and lure a following. And they still don’t have any customers or support. So every once in a while they have to let go of another expensive chef. But every time they do so, the people who don’t even eat there start wailing about how bad and cheap the food has gotten.

And athletes behave like the entitled ones?

You essentially get the Marlins for free on television. That’s the extent of their following. And you get what you pay for, people.

Fans who don’t spend money on the team are complaining because the Marlins have cut payroll again. The Marlins could finish in last place, as they did last season, while paying Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis close to $20 million. Or they could finish in last place and pocket all that extra money without them. Which would you do if it were your company? Cabrera and Willis, great as they are, weren’t luring money or fans or stadium support, so losing them isn’t exactly going to cost the Marlins any of those things.

Oh, the Marlins could be like the Kansas City Royals and spend for the sake of spending, giving Gil Meche $55 million to produce the illusion that they are trying. Or they could be like the Orioles and throw away money while not having a winning season in a decade. But what’s the point of that? Doesn’t it make more sense to get Detroit’s farm system in exchange for Cabrera now rather than pay Cabrera for two years and then have him leave without getting anything in return when he’s a free agent and you can’t afford him?

Besides, the Marlins tried to cash in on the 2003 World Series by completely forsaking their philosophy and giving long-term and guaranteed contracts to Mike Lowell and Luis Castillo. Later, they won a bidding war for Carlos Delgado. And it bought them nothing in terms of following, political support, benefit of the doubt, playoff wins or a stadium. So they tried. And failed. And now they’re choosing a cheaper route. This isn’t altruism or charity or a non-profit organization. It’s a business, and it’s as cold as cash.

And for the first time in history, a long day or evening spent watching baseball in an ill-suited football venue has been compared to a visit to a restaurant. It’s also fascinating to note that Le Batard is 100% certain those frustrated by the Fish’s fire sales aren’t amongst the team’s (admittedly few) ticket buyers, just as its hard to follow his logic in claiming those who watch the Marlins on TV aren’t entitled to an opinion. How successful would the Heat or Dolphins be if local interest in those teams began and finished with season ticket holders?

But back to the restaurant analogy for a minute. Where in Le Batard’s cookbook is there a recipe that includes such ingredients as an accu-jack obsessed team executive, an owner harrassing his manager during a game, or annual threats to move the team to Portland or Las Vegas?

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