How To Ruin A Franchise, Step 41: Write a full-page letter in the newspapers blaming the media, attendance, general ignorance – anyone but yourself! – for your decaying franchise a year after a publicly-funded stadium was built.
That's the only explanation, right?
Sunday was some suicidal next-step from the how-to manual Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is following into baseball oblivion. Because no one can be naturally this tone-deaf, can they?
No one can deny, deny, deny reality and expect fans to buy in, can they?
It was a laugh reading Loria's self-serving screed in South Florida's three newspapers on Sunday until you realized he's taking baseball down for the count with him in this market.
On what planet is the flabbergasting fire sale the Marlins had in November rationalized by Loria's line that, "Objective experts credited us with going from the 28th ranked minor league system in baseball to the fifth best."
Is he serious? What franchise can't improve a depleted minor-league system by selling off its best major-league players?
And does he think it really matters the $450 million he received in public money to build a new stadium is a, "burden incurred by tourists who are visiting our city,'' as he writes. "NOT the resident taxpayers."
The fact is Loria received a publicly gifted stadium, signed marquee players one year, dumped them the next and now will line his pockets with tens of millions in a brazen bait-and-switch.
Loria also blamed "columnists" who dared, "unleash a vicious cycle of negativity" in the aftermath of this fire sale. Imagine that. Who could he possibly be talking about?
Blaming the media is a common game that any public official can play when it suits them. But how does Loria explain his traded shortstop, Jose Reyes, saying the owner told him to buy a house in Miami – and two days later traded him?
Or discuss how his former pitcher, Mark Buehrle, was shipped to one of the cities he expressly didn't want to go in Toronto because his beloved pit bulls aren't allowed there. So his family will live in Chicago this season. He'll play in Toronto.
Loria wrote, "something needed to be done," to the roster in part because, "we don't have unlimited funds." What needs to be done, first and foremost, is for him to get out of the way and be quiet. That's if he won't sell the team at all.
The simple truth is Loria has been the Marlins' top problem for a while. This isn't news. I've written about it for a while. He's the one who strangely overspent in the build-up to the new stadium.
He wanted to overpay for manager Ozzie Guillen when his baseball people didn't. His baseball people offered reliever Heath Bell two years. Loria stepped in without their knowing, a source said, and gave Bell three years to close the deal. It was the exact same arrangement for catcher John Buck the year before.
So the Marlins had a bad and bloated roster? Who was to blame for that?
Loria was correct when he said, "fans didn't turn out last season as much as we'd like." Part of that was the team underperformed. Part was the club probably overestimated the drawing power of the stadium.
They expected 2.8 million fans last year. They drew more than 2.2 million fans. Good luck getting anywhere close to that this season.
For three months since the Marlins conducted their November fire sale, Loria was silent. The hope was he learned from his recent years of mistakes. Maybe even that he was humbled by the fans' fallout.
So much for that hope. As one of Loria's many former managers, Fredi Gonzalez, now in Atlanta, said last fall, "As long as he owns the team, he makes the decisions. In his mind, they're the right ones."
Loria evidently thinks his attack letter was the right in his mind, too. It was written no doubt with the help of a newly hired public relations firm. It became another step in offending any fan who already wasn't turned off by this team's winter.
It makes you wonder what his next move is. Raising ticket prices? Trading Giancarlo Stanton?
The hope is he sells the team. The reality is he's just ruining it.