Some Final Thoughts on the Marlins' Finances

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It seems like everyone in South Florida is mad that the Marlins (a business franchise) are making profits while doing everything in their power to minimize costs (including player salaries) during a historic economic downturn. You know things are turned upside down when Craig of FishStripes is forced to defend Jeffrey Loria (sorry dude). I'm already tired of the uproar, so I'm going to just post some bullet points and call it a day.

  • We have only seen financial documents for 2008 and 2009. According to Jeff Loria (whose words should be accompanied by many grains of salt), the team accrued a lot of debt between 2002 and 2005, when their Opening Day payrolls totaled $41 million, $45 million, $42 million, and $60 million, respectively (with much of that money deferred in the cases of high-salary guys like Pudge Rodriguez). Additionally, the team is also deducting some expenses for the new stadium, as Craig pointed out yesterday. When (if) the Marlins' revenue streams move towards the top half of Major League Baseball, they won't have to cut back after an extended period of (relative) overspending, but that is not the case now (as Maury Brown pointed out, the Marlins receive twice as much money from revenue sharing as they do from ticket sales and broadcasting rights).
  • David Samson told Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post that MLB "will seek legal recourse to find the source" who leaked the financial documents to Deadspin. This is dumb, and the only reason MLB should do this is if they think it will prevent more documents from being leaked. It might stop this particular source, but leaks happen, and MLB would be better served by getting in front of the story and contending with the documents head on, rather than trying to unscramble this egg.
  • Now the wizards who run the Miami city and county governments are mad that they didn't get to review the Marlins books before approving the massive public-private financing plan for the new stadium. I am of the Carl Hiaasen line of thinking concerning Miami politicians, i.e. they are all shady crooks who aren't all that concerned about the public good. This sounds like a bunch of lamenting that they were out-crooked by Loria and Samson, to which I say bummer. The exception in this case is Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, who demanded that the Marlins make their books available to lawmakers and voted against stadium funding when the Marlins refused.
  • Greg Cote is mad. But then again, he's also the guy who publicly lambasted Norman Braman's attempts to foil the financing plan that paid for the bulk of the stadium costs (I would link his column here, but the Miami Herald does not make much of its archives available on the web). The lesson for the rest of us: ignore most sportswriters when it comes to politics, economics, and the public good.
  • If you, as a fan, are mad that you are spending your own money on tickets and merchandise, and that the proceeds from those spending dollars are not going towards something useful, then stop buying tickets and merchandise. It's that simple. Jeff Loria does not care about your complaints on Twitter.
  • One question for the fans: Knowing what we do about the way Loria and company sold the Expos to MLB to finance the purchase of the Marlins, should we be surprised at any level of malfeasance by the Marlins ownership? It's not like we all thought Loria was George Bailey. As the old adage goes, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
  • As for my own feelings, I no longer live in South Florida, so my tax dollars are not going towards the new stadium, and I haven't attended a Marlins game since I left Miami in 2006. For that reason, it's difficult for me to get too exercised about the team fleecing the city and county, though I can certainly sympathize with those who do. Frankly, my political anger right now is reserved for Ken Cuccinelli, who thinks John Ashcroft is a good role model for Attorneys General.
Okay, we're all done with that for now.


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