For a few months, the heat wasn’t too bad in South Beach. The masses in orange, black, and all the colors of the rainbow could stare out into the sun and see some hope.
Now, however, Miami is scorching. The fire sale is complete. The Marlins have burned all their fans.
On Tuesday, it was reported that the Miami Marlins will undergo a massive trade that will ship the remainders of their stars in the dream of the 2012 season. They’re slated to send pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck, outfielder Emilio Bonifacio to the Toronto Blue Jays. In return, the Marlins will receive shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, pitcher Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis, and prospects Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, and Jake Marisnick.
No, your pockets won’t tear open and become lighter, too.
The Miami Marlins posted 93 losses and finished dead-last in the National League East after spending nearly $200 million last off-season, but this move took the cake for “Gotcha!”. In a single trade, the Marlins ended a year of fruitless dreaming of making the postseason, competing for a championship, and no longer remaining idle. And even that wasn’t like the Angels’ putout last winter, as the Marlins were in the race for one of the 10 playoff spots for only about a month. The Marlins had a May to remember, going 21-8 – 21-8 before they posted a 40-71 record in their last 111 games of the season.
The fans in Miami must feel a little bit like they just received the Cleveland LeBron treatment. All their invested hopes were thrown away. The Miami area people put their hearts into the team to fuel the dream that a new look, name, and venue were all that the Marlins needed to erase a past of two championships sandwiched between irrelevancy and frugalness. They, like so many of us, believed the hype when they saw the talent heading to Florida. Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and a World Series-winning manager to wrangle in any big leaguer, Ozzie Guillen. They were the final pieces that were projected to fill the void of insufficient Marlin flair, complimenting one of the better pitchers in the National League, Josh Johnson, a promising arm in Anibal Sanchez, and the monster bat, Giancarlo Stanton. Notice how many of these names appeared in the third paragraph of this article?
Not only did many of the South Beach baseball fans purchase tons of Marlins’ memorabilia, revamping their old blue-and-silver clothes, but they put decent chunks of change into the newly opened Marlins Park. The Miami-Dade County put in $347 million of tax dollars into funding the building of the stadium. Upon seeing the faith in the fish and the return they gave by spending in the free agent market, fans put their share into the pot. After all, being a Marlins’ season ticket holder seemed logical since the Marlins looked like spenders for once. All wasted Miami money. Give us a roof, please, Jeffrey Loria said. Public money helped deliver, but now there’s an empty ballpark with only Stanton and Logan Morrison left to draw buzz. What a return investment, eh?
But after trading the former face of the franchise, Hanley Ramirez, to the Los Angeles Dodgers mid-season, and Anibal Sanchez was sent to the Motor City, the Marlins appeared to come to a screeching halt in their fire sale. Months passed without much incident. Guillen was getting ready to clear out his office, but the Marlins’ fans held out a small ray of hope that perhaps next year would be time. Maybe the Marlins would keep their big stars to make at least one postseason in the coming years. The floor became cold, as the ice seemed to have been laid to let the Miami stars go to work in 2013.
After Heath Bell was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks at the start of the off-season, the Marlins burned down all the South Beach dreams in a massive explosion that appeared to reverse time. No Reyes, no Bell, no Guillen, no Buehrle. At least there’s still – wait, no, time went even further back; Johnson and Sanchez are gone, too.
$175 million dollars. That’s how much the Marlins cut from their monetary commitments in an instant, sending it all up to the Rogers Centre. And then sat the ringleader in his orange office, rubbing his hands together, saying it was a beautiful day. The investments gave Loria the new $634 million ballpark he wanted, and grand publicity for a year. And now off the books goes nearly $200 million in commitments. It was all meant to rocket the Marlins from a poor and cheap team into a rich and contending team, right?
Watch the floor; the ice has melted in a fire – fire sale.