We can never begin to ascertain the potential of the Miami baseball market until Jeffrey Loria completes the sale of the Miami Marlins because of how Loria shadows the perception of the franchise. For a lot of fans, the Marlins without Loria would be the Death Star after the departure of Darth Vader.
Loria is moving forward with sale talks, writes Barry Jackson, and he will soon cash in on his profitable baseball investment.
Whoever the new owners turn out to be, they must recognize the full depth of the fan base’s anger toward Loria, who slashed his payroll, often fielded noncompetitive teams and negotiated a ballpark deal that drained taxpayers. Because of this, generations of Miami fans have made a habit of staying away from the relatively young home of the Marlins, which opened in 2012, and refusing to spend money they believed would land in Loria’s pockets.
The new owners will need a reset, in the same way the Los Angeles Dodgers did following Frank McCourt's ugly reign. And the Marlins will need instant credibility. The new Dodgers regime got credibility mostly by spending and taking on players like Adrian Gonzalez, but they also rebranded the team. An important step was the inclusion of Magic Johnson in the ownership group, because of Magic’s reputation with folks in L.A. His history with the city made fans willing to take him at his word that the new owners were going to spend money and try relentlessly to win. And that’s what has happened.
This is why the new owners, whoever they are, should make a strong effort to persuade Derek Jeter to be part of the solution. And MLB should do all that it can to aid in that, to the degree that it requires the buyers to try to make that happen as a stipulation for purchasing the team.