Another chapter of the grueling Miami baseball franchise has come and gone. At the hands of team owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson, the much-promising 2006 core, which emerged as the future stars of South Florida baseball seven years ago, has been completely diminished with the exception of Ricky Nolasco. Like seeds in the wind, that group of players, which included Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and Josh Johnson has been distributed over the entire MLB for implementation and fertilization in mostly winning ballclubs. It was the success and energy of these players that gave hope to Marlins fans and baseball observers alike, promising good days coming Miami's way. But here we are, some six years after that refreshing 2006 season, restarting the process after a third Marlins firesale--the largest of them yet--having lost six years of baseball to the relentless, indecisive, con-artists that have run baseball in Miami since 2002.
However, 2002 was not the first time Loria and Samson took hold of a baseball team and led it to the chop shop. In fact, the deceptive duo had just consummated their first gig, the destruction of baseball in Montreal, when Loria bought the Marlins prior to Florida's 2003 World Series Championship. John Henry was the previous owner who had built up this winning squad, staffed by young talent such as Josh Beckett and Derek Lee, veteran leaders such as Pudge Rodriguez and Mike Lowell, and the up-and-comers Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Henry went on to buy the Red Sox, who won the 2004 and 2007 World Series (spoiler alert: Henry would get Beckett and Lowell in a deal with Loria). You would think that Loria and Samson would have learned their lesson after the controversial years in Montreal, which led to the Expos' 2005 move to Washington D.C.; however, it appears now that they might just be attempting to pick apart Major League Baseball piece by vulnerable piece.
The first of the Marlins' three firesales came after the 1997 championship, when money was an issue in the small baseball market of Miami. Getting a nice package of prospects in return, the Marlins were able to build up a winning squad again, spending money for the 2003 season, in which the team ultimately won the World Series. After the 2005 season, freshly removed from a second championship, the "money problem" was again cited as an excuse by the front office, as Loria dealt Josh Beckett, Alex Gonzalez, Carlos Delgado, and Juan Pierre among others to various teams for prospects who ended up becoming that 2006 core. Money, in some way or another, is the cause and effect of everything in sports. It is why Jeffrey Loria bought the Marlins in the first place; because he had it. It is why the Marlins won the World Series in 2003; because they were not afraid to spend it, and spend it wisely. And it is why Jeffrey Loria, until last year, had gotten away with every move he made, as boneheaded as it may have been; because Marlins nation had been forced to comply with the spoon-fed "money problem" excuse cowardly dished out by team executives.
The money problem caused an eternal state of rebuilding, something experts and fans alike in 2006 thought would surely have been over by the time a new stadium was built. And that stadium, as a result of the same "money problems," was publicly funded by Miami taxpayers, who have now been betrayed by the aforementioned con artists, and would be perfectly righteous in not showing up to Marlins Park in 2013, the home of a glorified Double-A team.
Making matters worse, two years ago it became apparent that those "money problems" for building the stadium were fraudulent. Loria lied on financial reports so that he would not have to dish out so much of his precious money that he was likely planning to spend on free agents and trade away one year later. And that is exactly what happened when Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes were traded this week after one season with the disappointing Miami Marlins. Buehrle and Reyes were dealt to Toronto along with Josh Johnson, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio. In case you are thinking about the depth chart, those players were their two top pitchers, starting catcher, starting shortstop, and starting centerfielder.
Jeffrey Loria has completed nothing short of an exhaustive swindling of Marlins fans, the city of Miami, and Major League Baseball as a whole, leading his oligarchy into yet another winter meetings, again promising "better days ahead," euphemistically excusing the next three or four sure-to-be dismal years as another period of "rebuilding."
The 2012 season has been completed, and the swindle scheme has come full circle since Loria took over. Juan Pierre has returned, perfectly symbolizing the festina lente-themed reign of tyrant Jeffrey Loria. Festina Lente is Latin for "make haste slowly." That is precisely what Loria's reign has been. We are back to where we started in 2006, rebuilding with a plethora of young players around a centerpiece, which today is Giancarlo Stanton. Before the 2006 season, it was Miguel Cabrera, who was traded after 2007. This may be bold, but if the Marlins do not vastly improve by the time the 2014 season is over, Stanton's fate may be the same as Cabrera's.
Steve Miller is a high school student and lifelong Marlins fan who resides in Virginia. He writes Fish Fry, a highly rated fan blog on MLBlogs. You can follow his blog and follow him on Twitter @smillermarlins