We have spent the entire week here at Fish Stripes discussing the latest in the betrayal of trust perpetrated by the Miami Marlins in their mega-trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. The deal sent some of the Marlins' best players to the Jays for a set of prospects and players with serious questions as major leaguers, prompting the immediate discussion of a "fire sale" within the organization. Based on the observations made here and elsewhere, it seems very clear that a fire sale is exactly what this trade accomplished, and the fans have only Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to blame.
There is a very good chance that said fans will blame the subsequent disappointment and failure of this ball club on Loria, and rightfully so. Loria is at the center of controversy after going back on his word to the fan base about a new era of change for the Marlins organization. He went back on his word to a number of free agents when he signed them to long-term deals and told them that he wanted them in Miami for the long haul. He turned his back on Giancarlo Stanton and the remaining players on the Fish who are now left to fend for themselves with little talent remaining on the team. While the Marlins accomplished a decent amount in the trade in terms of restocking the organization's barren minor league system, the team also did irreparable damage to the roster, its players' support, and the fans' opinions.
Despite all of this, however, Loria simply will not care. Despite what he says to the contrary, this trade is one that will damage the reputation of the organization enough that it will become more difficult in future seasons to return to prominence, no matter what happens on the field. Even if all of the balls bounce the right way for the Marlins with this return, it will be a while until the fans can heal from this latest purging of the roster. Meanwhile, Loria knows that he can continue to make profits even off of the team's misfortunes. Thanks to revenue sharing and much of the centralization of Major League Baseball's resources, the Marlins can still rake in cash despite not drawing crowds, as Loria once did years ago under a worse stadium lease and harsher baseball economic conditions.
So what are Marlins fans to do? Those of us who have not been completely alienated by the trade and the direction of this ball club are left with a team that is going to be difficult for which to root for the next few seasons. It seems impossible for this Marlins team to compete, and yet we want to support our club no matter what.
I say you do what Marlins fans have often done best: not show up in droves. Boycott the Miami Marlins!
Now, do not get me wrong. If I boycotted the Miami Marlins, I would be out of a blogging job. As angry as I am about the direction of the organization, I cannot pull myself away from this team. I am a diehard fan through and through, more so since taking over as a blogger of the Marlins in 2009. I cannot imagine a baseball season without following the Marlins carefully, because in my heart of hearts, I love this team unconditionally. Call it blind loyalty, but when you attach yourself to a team as a fan and that team delivers some of your fondest memories of sports fandom, it is hard to tear yourself away. Thus, you can bet on me supporting the Marlins and continuing to write about them and analyze them in 2013.
But a boycott in this sense is not one in which you do not show your support for the team you love. The boycott is for you to display your lack of support for Loria and everything that he has done to hinder the organization with his meddlesome decisions as owner. And the only way to do that is not to necessarily cut off your support of the team so much as the financial support of the organization.
This means that, at least in 2013, I advise that you not attend any Marlins games, home or elsewhere when the Fish come to visit. The new Marlins Park is a beautiful facility that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting, but every penny of revenue from the park goes to the Miami Marlins and into the coffers of Jeffrey Loria. After the betrayal of the fans' trust and belief, it should be obvious that the first thing Marlins fans should do is the thing we have done best for many years: not show up at the stadium. Given what we know Loria will likely do with the revenue we provide from showing up at the turnstiles, why give him any more money to pocket? Marlins fans should speak with their wallet and not allow Marlins Park attendance to reach one million this season. If that were to happen, it would be just the second time in team history that the organization could not draw a million fans in a season, and what better year to do it than one in which the product on the field is flawed and could be among the worst in baseball.
But that is not all. Marlins merchandise sold fairly well last season based on reports that we had heard, but those merchandise sales are also lining the wallets of Jeffrey Loria. Boycotting the Miami Marlins in 2013 also means that you should not buy any merchandise from the team. That includes third-party distribution of merchandise in addition to products purchased from the team store. Do not put one bit of your finances into the Miami Marlins next season, including in clothing, flags, or other overpriced gadgets designed to show off your love of the team.
As I mentioned, however, the Marlins should not go unloved, even in public. The boycott does not mean that you do not speak of the Marlins and their 2013 play, nor does it mean that you should not proudly wear the gear you already have. And while this boycott calls for you to forego all purchases of tickets in 2013, it does not mean that you should not watch the team via television or MLB.tv if you have the chance. By all means, you should support the Marlins in any way that would still keep you from spending a dime on this team and giving it to Loria. I know that I will be tracking the team via their telecasts, as a part of that money is already guaranteed centrally to the Marlins as part of a larger fund. The Marlins have their television deals set, regardless of what I do right now, so using the television or radio is the safest bet for you to follow your favorite team without supporting its heinous owner.
Last season, the Marlins got me hooked. I spent the more money on merchandise and tickets last year than I ever spent on the Fish before. I wanted to believe in a new direction for the team, and I did believe. But Jeffrey Loria fooled me like he fooled so many other fans with his talk of change. And I will still support my Marlins, through and through, even if it means I will not be in their beautiful stadium rooting in person. in 2013, I will not support anything Loria does financially. He may very well still turn a profit through manipulation of MLB's revenue sharing system, but Jeffrey Loria will not earn a dime from me next season.