I think it's pretty fair to say, judging by the comments here and here and here, that Jeffrey Loria's tone-deaf, condescending, combative, and disingenuous letter of questionable accuracy to Marlins fans has fallen about as flat as the Earth Loria seems to be living on. Others are going to undoubtedly do an excellent job of picking Loria's letter apart -- Which experts rank the Marlins' system fifth? Wouldn't money from a tourism tax go to fund other more necessary public projects if it wasn't lining Loria's pockets? And what about this Miami Herald report that puts the cost of the bonds financing the stadium's construction at over a billion dollars? or this Sun Sentinel article that argues the overall cost to taxpayers will be almost two-and-a-half billion dollars?
Instead of recounting all that and acting outraged, or mocking the owner outright (by noting that, even though his letter is written to "our fans," Loria himself has absolutely zero fans), I figured I'd offer Mr. Loria a little Monday Morning Quarterbacking. Here's what he should have written:
Dear South Florida,
First, and most importantly, I owe all of you an apology for how 2012 played out for your Marlins. Going into the season, we believed (and so did many national baseball pundits) that we had chosen the right free agents and put together a team that would be able to compete for the Wild Card, if not the NL East title. Obviously, we were wrong. I was wrong.
I had hoped our first season in the beautiful Marlins Park would be one of celebration, in which we could all come together to support the Marlins. Obviously, it's hard for anyone to be enthusiastic about a 93 loss team, and we didn't give you enough to cheer for. Nevertheless, 2.2 million fans came to watch the Marlins in 2012, our third highest attendance ever, and for that I thank you. I wish we had done better for you.
It became clear to our baseball executives over the course of the season that we had erred. We had not found the core of the next great Marlins team, and rather than continue to throw good money after bad, when the Toronto Blue Jays offered us the chance to make a fresh start and what we thought was a fair return for some very good players, I authorized our front office to make the best deal possible for the long term future of the Marlins organization, and many of the best minds around baseball think we did well in that trade. I am excited for the futures of Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, and Derek Dietrich (to say nothing of our truly homegrown young talents like Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich, who are universally heralded as two of the best prospects in all of baseball, and other great young players like Andrew Heaney, Marcell Ozuna). I believe, once you get to know them, you will be just as excited to watch them as you are to watch the incredible Giancarlo Stanton, who we will do everything possible to keep in Miami throughout his career, so that he can be the first player to wear a Marlins hat when he's inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.
Nevertheless, I understand why these trades feel like a betrayal to so many of you. You and the elected officials of Miami and Dade County put your trust in us by helping us to build Marlins Park and we promised to increase our spending. We tried. That strategy did not work, and left us a shallow organization with little opportunity to improve in the short term, and so we were forced to take a different, less popular route. Again, I'm sorry that this is so disappointing.
I understand words like "I'm sorry," are meaningless without action behind them, and so just as South Florida invested in us while we were building the best and most architecturally acclaimed stadium in Major League Baseball, I want to invest in you as Marlins fans. Not only will our ticket prices stay frozen for the next five years, but I am instructing our front office to distribute 5,000 tickets for every Marlins home game to students and teachers in the Miami-Dade County public schools. I want every student and teacher who is or wants to be a baseball fan to come to at least one Marlins game in 2013. In addition, any police officer, fire fighter, or active duty member of the United States military who presents their identification and buys a walk-up ticket at Marlins Park will get in for half price. I promise you, if you come out to the park this year, you'll fall in love with the hunger and hustle that manager Mike Redmond is already instilling in the club during spring training.
This won't be an easy process. We may lose even more games in 2013 than we did in 2012, but nonetheless our future is much brighter. We will continue to improve in 2014 and in 2015. I pledge to spend what is necessary to keep the great players we do develop and to trade for the players and entice the free agents we need to fill in whatever gaps we have once our core is strong enough to win. We will bring a championship back to South Florida. We will rebuild the trust that has been broken. And we will make you proud to be a Marlins fan again. Thank you for your support in the past and in the future, and go Marlins!
Jeffrey "Expos-killer" Loria
Now, that doesn't solve all the issues, and it certainly doesn't absolve Loria of his complicity of the decisions that have brought the Marlins to this low point, but it's at least a start down the right road to repair the relationship between the Marlins and Miami. I mean, nobody actually wants to hear from Loria again. Since that's not likely to happen, isn't this kind of what you want to hear? It wasn't even that hard to write, and I don't even have any emotional investment in the Marlins. Hey, maybe I should own them! Couldn't possibly be any worse.
Michael Bates is one of SBN's Designated Columnists and one of the minds behind The Platoon Advantage. Follow him at @commnman and the Designated Columnists at @SBNMLBDCers.