The University of Iowa University of Iowa

The Marlins Fans’ Declaration of Independence

Jeffrey Loria, the owner of the Miami Marlins
Jeffrey Loria, the owner of the Miami Marlins

We hold this truth to be self-evident, that Jeffrey Loria is the worst owner in baseball. We acknowledge that he is endowed by his money and position with certain rights, among which is the power to run the baseball team he owns any way he sees fit. However, in order to secure those rights, expectations are instituted among the Marlins’ fan base, deriving the permanence of that power to maintain control of the team from the consent of the fans. Among those are an honest attempt to put the best possible product out on the field and an atmosphere of transparency in the franchise’s dealings. ¬†We maintain that whenever any form of ownership becomes destructive to the future success of the franchise, it is the right of the fans to decry such ownership. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that ownership long established should not be challenged for light and transient causes, as success maintained at a high level over several years is a difficult venture. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is the fans’ responsibility, to throw off such ownership, and to provide new guards for their beloved franchise’s future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of Florida/Miami Marlins fans; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their current system of management. The history of the present owner of the Miami Marlins is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of a money grab over the residents of South Florida. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has turned the Marlins into a major league farm team. During his time as the owner of the Marlins, the team has traded away Miguel Cabrera, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Josh Beckett, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Carlos Delgado, Josh Willingham, Dan Uggla, Paul LoDuca and Luis Castillo. That group of players has made 40 All-Star appearances, won 14 Silver Slugger Awards, won 11 Gold Glove Awards, claimed eight World Series Championships, twice won a batting title and twice won a World Series MVP. There is also a regular season MVP award, a Rookie of the Year award, a perfect game, a no-hitter, and a Triple Crown to the credit of that group of players.

He has shown a pattern of refusing to give his talented players their due compensation based on their performance. The Marlins have a hard fast rule that they will not sign a contract with any player that contains a no-trade clause. In 2010 it took the threat of the MLBPA filing a grievance for him to give Josh Johnson an extension. He has without fail dodged conversation about even talking to the agent of Giancarlo Stanton about interest in a new contract.

He has consistently refused to accept the blame for the failure of the franchise and put the responsibility on others. Loria has fired former managers Joe Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez and replaced them both with minor league managers with no experience managing in the majors. Girardi is a World Series Champion and a Manager of the Year. Gonzalez took the Braves to the playoffs last season. The Marlins’ record during Loria’s ownership has been 877-904, a win percentage of .492. The team is facing a decade-long playoff drought and has finished above .500 only five of the eleven seasons. Loria has at times placed the blame of the losing on lack of funds resulting from poor attendance which he at other times said was the result of losing.

He has made a lucrative living off the Marlins in ways that have raised legitimate concerns as to his character. According to Forbes, the combined operating profits of the franchise from 2006-2011 was $198 million and the net worth grew by $206 million. While Loria has been getting money from broadcasting contracts, revenue sharing, ticket sales, concessions, parking and merchadise sales, this is what he has done:

  • All but two of the seasons since Loria bought the team in 2002 the Opening Day payroll has been in the bottom seven teams in the league
  • Three years it was dead last in the league and another it was second to last
  • The combined Opening Day payrolls from 2002 to 2011 were $410.1 million, the lowest in baseball for that time period
  • This season the Opening Day payroll is expected to be about $45 million, once again, the lowest in MLB
  • He backloaded the free agent megadeals signed by Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell in 2012, then not even a year later dumped all that money onto another team’s payroll
  • In at least two of the years since he bought the team, the Marlins have paid money to The Double Play Company for what is listed as a “management fee.” Loria owns the Double Play Company.

He has dealt and spoken in a deceptive manner with all parties for the sum total of his time in ownership. While he pleaded with the Miami-Dade County Commissioners for a new stadium, claiming that the team could not be competitive in the current situation of sharing a park with the Dolphins, he refused to show the Commissioners the Marlins’ financial records at every request. Both Buehrle and Reyes claim that they were told by Loria they would be in Miami for the length of the contracts they signed, Reyes even claims that two days prior to being traded Loria told him to buy a house. On March 12, 2002 Loria said that,

“We will spend a lot of time meeting with people, talking with fans.” This past week in a letter to fans he stated that, “An organization is only as good as its connection with the community. We know we can do a better job communicating with our fans. From this point forward we can ensure fans and the entire community that we will keep you abreast of our plan, rationale and motivations.”

He has continually made decisions on player personnel that have hurt the product on the field and then exaggerated those moves in his statements. In his statements about the trade with Toronto, he defended the move by saying that the trade was approved by Commissioner Bud Selig. The last time a trade was blocked by a commissioner was 1976. He also called the trade, “universally celebrated.” The truth is that Loria traded a 200 inning guy, one of the best shortstops in baseball and the best pitcher in Marlins’ history for a package of four prospects, a journeyman veteran and a non-prospect. None of the prospects the Marlins received from Toronto in the trade were one of the Blue Jays’ top four prospects. He further misinforms the public when he states that, “acquiring high profile players did not work” and that he “needed to start from scratch quickly”. Loria acted contrary to those words when he traded the players at their lowest value instead of giving them time to rebuild some worth.

We, therefore, as fans of professional baseball in Miami, assembled, appealing to the rest of the fans of professional baseball all over the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of our constituency, solemnly publish and declare, that we do not recognize Jeffrey Loria as a part of the Marlins’ organization. We absolve ourselves of all allegiance to him and all connections between him and us are and ought to be dissolved; and that as free and independent fans, we have the full power to withhold our resources until such time that this imposter removes himself from the position he has abused. And for the support of this declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.