When Derek Jeter’s group purchased the Marlins my first and largest concern was that this Yankees legend was going to be a “mole” for his former team, and that he would turn the Marlins into the modern version of the Kansas City Athletics. For those who are unaware, the Kansas City A’s were a perpetual cellar-dweller who had the reputation as the Yankees’ “unofficial farm team”.
From 1955-1961, the fairly destitute A’s and the rich and powerful Yankees made a total of 16(!) trades, most of which can be categorized as being quite lopsided towards the Yankees.
The obvious comparison to the Stanton deal would be the trade on December 11, 1959 which sent Roger Maris and two others from the A’s to the Yankees for Marv Throneberry, Don Larsen (1-10 for the A’s in 1960), Hank Bauer (who was at the end of his career), and Norm Siebern. Maris went on to be the AL MVP the next two seasons, including a 61 home run season in 1961, which many consider to still be the “legitimate” single-season home run record.
When you add this background to Jeter’s Yankees connection, and the analogous payroll disparity, it was easy to be quite upset after this deal was announced. As if to rub it in, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweeted yesterday that “jeter helped the yankees win 5 world series. and counting ...”
Michael Baumann of The Ringer was particularly stinging in his appraisal of Jeter and stated that the move would “reinforce whose name ought to be slapped across protest signs and headlines as the Marlins are parted out for pennies on the dollar, leaving one of baseball’s most beloved figures as a punch line, and a city’s baseball tradition withered and desiccated like a prune in the sun”.
My background is as someone who loved the Yankees in the late 1970s. My first baseball game was on “Jacket Day” in 1978 at Yankees Stadium, and loved Reggie Jackson and loved the Reggie! bars which were named after him. As the years went along, I grew to champion more underdog teams, such as the Mets, Marlins, and others, while teams such as the Yankees, Cowboys, and Lakers constituted my personal “Axis of Evil” of sports teams.
Needless to say, yesterday’s deal feeds right into that narrative for me, one based on a system rigged for the wealthy and powerful teams and against teams such as the Marlins. However, after the initial shock and anger, I started looking at the process that led to this moment a little more carefully.
Everyone loves Giancarlo, but remember that HE held the leverage in terms of vetoing trades to the Giants and Cardinals. Those trades would have likely have given the Marlins more in return vis a vis prospects, though Miami would have probably had to eat more salary and hence dump more players to get under their payroll threshold.
Stanton wanted to go to the Dodgers, but by all reports, LA did not give a serious offer for him. Therefore Jeter and Michael Hill made the best deal they felt they could get given the context of their situation.
Additionally, who can blame Stanton for agreeing to play in homer-happy Yankee stadium with that kind of notoriety and with that sort of lineup? We all remember how badly he wanted to match Roger Maris’ home run mark last year. What would you do?
At the end of the day, I have to say that I’m coming to terms with this deal. The haul that the Fish got for Stanton is seemingly a pittance compared to the stature that the reigning NL MVP would seem to demand, which is quite frustrating. The Marlins set this up themselves by signing Giancarlo to such an onerous contract in the first place, of course.
We may also be looking the modern-day version of Mantle and Maris in the Bronx in the form of Judge and Stanton, and who knows what emotions that might bring up during the season.
However, operating in an emotional vacuum, this deal makes sense for the Marlins, principally financially. However, baseball fans are driven by the passion for competition and in rooting for their favorite team to win on the field with their eyes on a World Series championship. Few Marlins fans will sleep easier now knowing that the team’s finances are better balanced and that they are being more fiscally responsible. Such is the lot of the Marlins fan, I suppose, and it is hard to imagine that the front office will get anything but grief for this move. It’s kind of like the feeling you had towards mom when she ripped the band aid off your arm. You were happy that your wound is healing, but oh, that sting......