Never mind the rankings or reports of low attendance, the consensus from All-Star week in Miami is that the city is more than capable of being a baseball town. If you were at the park this week or perhaps for the World Baseball Classic back in March, you know this to be true. The city just needs a new owner to recapture the fans’ hearts. But which prospective buyer is the best choice to bring a baseball revival to South Beach?
Current Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is set to choose one of the three groups bidding for his franchise in the very near future. Other than “most money offered,” we don’t really know what criteria he will use to make his decision. So I’d like to offer what I consider to be ideal characteristics of a new owner and then very briefly consider our options.
A new owner should be the antithesis of Loria. Simple as that. He should provide three things: stability, likeability (evidenced primarily by a manifest desire to win) and have ties to the Miami area.
ON TO THE GROUPS
First, we have Derek Jeter’s group. At first glance, he seems like he’d be a great fit. He’s retired from a hall-of-fame career to South Florida. He’s a winner. He wants to own a baseball team. He has Michael Jordan on his side, and when did MJ ever lose?
Then again, Jeter’s group fails the first litmus test: stability. So far, the group has not been able to raise the requisite amount of money. At least two major partners (former Florida governor Jeb Bush being one of them) have backed out over concerns that Jeter has too much control for too little financial investment. Power struggles are not conducive to winning. Winning is necessary to bring the fans and passion back to Marlins Park. Moving on.
IF NOT HIM THEN...
The next group is headed by Wayne Rothbaum and Tagg Romney, son of Mitt. It also now includes former Jeter-backer Jeb Bush, Miami native-turned-CEO Marcus Lemonis and Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine. Rapper Pitbull also joined in the fun over the weekend, so there are plenty of Miami connections in this group.
However, this seems like a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario to me. I didn’t even mention Shoney’s CEO David Davoudpour is also in the mix, which brings us to a grand total of seven partners. Seven highly successful partners with the egos that almost certainly accompany that kind of success. Obviously, other teams have ownership groups that have been successful, but the constantly shifting landscape of this one worries me.
WE HAVE A WINNER! (HOPEFULLY)
We are left with our final contestant, Jorge Mas. One man, a billionaire with enough money to buy the team out of pocket. He was educated in business in Miami, made his fortune here, and is said to be willing to make the sacrifices needed to turn the Marlins into a winner, including working 14-hour days. He has all of the “ideal characteristics” a new owner should have, and then some.
Loria has often claimed that he loves the Miami area. Now, with the clock ticking down on his run as owner, he has a chance to prove it by acting in Miami’s best interest. The Miami Marlins’ best interest is Jorge Mas.