Maybe some of you are still holding your breath.
“This has happened before,” you say to yourself.
And indeed it has. Back in February, news first broke that Jeff Loria had the team on the market. On the heels of that stunning development, we learned that Loria and company had a “handshake agreement” with a Josh Kushner-led group.
You probably know what happened next. Despite numerous reports that neither Charles Kushner (Josh and Jared’s father, who had served time in prison on a number of charges surrounding tax evasion) nor Jared himself were involved in the ownership chase, things got sticky when it surfaced that President Trump was mulling over making Loria his ambassador to France (a role that would eventually be filled by ex-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt’s ex-wife Jamie). Rob Manfred probably told Loria around then that there was no way that MLB was going to approve of this group, and the deal fell through.
THEN, Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush emerged as an unlikely duo, alongside other suitors/competitors. Again, reports came out that the Jeter/Bush group had a “handshake agreement” to buy the team, but nothing materialized as the requisite funds had not been compiled.
So yes, we’ve seen handshake agreements before. Maybe you simply wont exhale until Loria’s officially driving off into the sunset. Who can blame you for lacking trust when it comes to the current ownership group? Some would call it wisdom.
Nevertheless, we have on our hands the strongest signals to date that Loria is indeed on his way out. In his place, a Derek Jeter/Bruce Sherman backed group that amazingly also includes Michael Jordan (tell me you saw that coming when the team first went up for grabs). Bruce Sherman will be the control person, and Derek Jeter will run operations.
I confess as things were shaking out during this process that I became a Jorge Mas proponent, because the fit just seemed too good to be true: Cuban, long-time prominent member of the Miami community, rich enough to fund the team largely on his own.
With the Jeter group, however, the Marlins will still get the rich local owner in Bruce Sherman, who made his money in asset management over a long, successful career. My initial concerns about a Jeter-led group was that they would have difficulty funding a competitive team after purchase; that fear will be largely allayed once the group is approved within the next couple of weeks.
And there should be no doubt that the group will be approved. The double whammy of removing one of the most onerous owners ever to step foot in the game combined with bringing back THE FACE™ of baseball to run one of it’s teams will be too savory a dish to pass up.
There was some unnecessary fretting in the immediate aftermath of the sale when it was revealed that guys like Michael Hill and David Samson would be keeping their respective roles for the time being. It’s fairly common in a transitional management period, from the business world to the baseball world, for the people who were there before to keep their spots...in the short-term.
There is little doubt those heads are going to roll, though. Jeter is not a fool, he is well aware of the moribund status of the franchise he just bought into. After all, he was in the opposing dugout the last time the Marlins did anything truly meaningful, watching men in black and teal mob an exuberant Josh Beckett on old Yankee stadium’s mound 14 years ago.
No one has ever questioned what drives Derek Jeter: He wants to win. He won quite a bit during his playing career, and he just caught perhaps the biggest Fish of his career by acquiring this ball club. He has demonstrated his ability to win; if there is some sort of secret recipe to it, he owns it. He now brings that mentality and experience to the task of putting together a winning south Florida baseball team.
That’s an exciting prospect for Marlins fans. It’s going to take some time, but I can’t wait to see what they come up with.