Originally posted on MarlinsBaseball.com  |  Last updated 1/20/12

BRONX, NY - OCTOBER 19: Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria watches from the seats as his team takes on the New York Yankees in game 2 of the Major League Baseball World Series on October 19, 2003 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

On Thursday night, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria received some national attention after being nearly knocked over by Miami Heat superstar Lebron James.    The video which has gone viral shows James holding Loria up from falling over as Marv Albert on the TNT telecast refers to the Marlins’ owner as “someone”.   James himself later admitted to not knowing it was the Marlins’ owner he had ran into.    Being an unknown to a national audience may just be a welcome relief to Mr. Loria however considering the blind hate he receives from many fans locally.   Taking a quick scan of comments after last night’s encounter pointed out just how many people locally remain angry and bitter towards Mr. Loria without any real reason.

When Mr. Loria took over the Marlins in 2002, he was coming over from Montreal while Major League Baseball took control of the Expos.    The Expos had a failed stadium plan, something Marlins’ fans are all too familiar with.   With no new stadium on the horizon and dwindling attendance, Mr. Loria decided to make a move down south.   He would take over for John Henry who was interested in purchasing the Boston Red Sox after failing to land a new ballpark for the Marlins.

Mr. Loria began his own hunt for a new ballpark from the start while putting money into the team.  Prior to the 2003 season, Mr. Loria authorized a move to sign All-Star Ivan Rodriguez for $10 million.  That move proved to be a catalyst for the team’s title run as Rodriguez was key in many games during the campaign.    All throughout that title season, Marlins fans saw Mr. Loria cheer on his team like any fan proving his interest in the team went further than just a revenue stream.   That interest in the team is something Mr. Loria has maintained as he continues into a second decade as owner.

Following the 2003 season, Mr. Loria maintained a good majority of the championship roster which was a strong contrast to the dismantling Wayne Huizenga oversaw after the 1997 title run.   Prior to the 2005 season, Mr. Loria once again opened his wallet and brought in one of the premiere free agents available in Carlos Delgado.  At the time, the Marlins outbid large market teams including the New York Mets to sign the slugging first baseman.    Delgado went on to have a tremendous season but the Marlins fell short of the post-season.   Still, the team did put together their third consecutive winning season thanks to the commitment of the front office.   In the stands however the attendance was still not up to par with other winning teams in baseball.

Facing diminished revenue and a poor outlook for a new ballpark, Mr. Loria was forced to trade away a few high priced players before the 2006 season.  Gone were Delgado, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Juan Pierre.   The Marlins would field the lowest payroll in baseball in 2006 with a team compiled of mostly rookies and inexpensive veteran players.    It’s this moment that many Marlins fans will point to as their reason to dislike Mr. Loria.   This is unfair however as the owner did put in the effort in previous years to field a winner but had his hand forced by poor attendance and a rough lease agreement with the Miami Dolphins to play in their stadium.   Without proper revenues, putting extra money into the team became a lost cause but this was overlooked by a good amount of fans and still is to this day despite Mr. Loria’s recent moves which we will get to shortly.

In March 2009, the Marlins completed their franchise long mission of securing an agreement for their own ballpark.   Mr. Loria was the third owner to lead the effort and the first one to reach the promised land with a tireless effort.    At the time, Mr. Loria assured Marlins fans that the revenue of the new ballpark would lead to increased payrolls and an improved product on the field.  Still even with the victory and the promise, Marlins fans remained perturbed with Mr. Loria.   The grudge from the payroll purge prior to the 2006 season continued strong and many fans speculated that Mr. Loria was being disingenuous with his plans for future payroll.

The Marlins would go on to sign Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez and Ricky Nolasco all to longterm contract extensions.   The team would also bring in a veteran catcher in John Buck in a pricey three year deal.   The team went out and signed Javier Vazquez to a contract most would deem anything but inexpensive.  Mr. Loria made every effort to retain Dan Uggla offering what would’ve been one of the most lucrative contracts in franchise history.  The All-Star decided it wasn’t enough and basically forced the team to trade him or see him walk as a free agent after the season.  Despite all of this, there were still plenty of Marlins fans who remained angry at Mr. Loria.   They continued to call him cheap despite these moves and continued to hope he would move on from the team.

This off-season, Mr. Loria proved that he was anything but dishonest when it came to his payroll plans.   The Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Heath Bell all to multi-year deals in a period of a week.   While this was taking place, the team also attempted to sign Albert Pujols to a contract worth reportedly over $200 million.    The team is rumored to not be complete with their spending spree as they will try and sign Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes once he is declared a free agent.

After all these moves, Marlins fans should have had no recourse for blind hate of Mr. Loria but still plenty remained adamant in their positions.   That was clear last night after the encounter with Lebron James when they spewed their venom at the Marlins’ owner in blog comments, and tweets.   There is still a lot of hatred towards the owner of the Marlins and it baffles the mind as to why.   Mr. Loria should clearly be known as the best owner the Marlins have ever had, but for many fans — it seems as if nothing he does will ever change their opinion.

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