You are a Miami Marlins fan. Maybe even one of the rare ones who actually attends games. And right now, you’re wondering if you’ll ever attend one of those games again.
Sure, you’ve got a shiny new stadium, even if it sampled a tad much from the Technicolor dreamcoat aisle at Old Navy. You weren’t crazy about building it with so much public money, but you swallowed hard and accepted it. Maybe you liked the prospects of its economic impact. Maybe you simply believe baseball teams are part of a community’s fabric, and losing yours would’ve been too much to bear.
Except now, it looks like you’re losing it anyway.
Word came down yesterday that the Marlins were trading away just about every high-priced recognizable name on their team to Toronto. And in return, they weren’t getting other high-priced recognizable names, but unproven prospects who might help the team down the road. So much for those promises of filling that stadium with long-term contenders.
Among the outgoing stars were homegrown ace Josh Johnson and the star free agents whose arrival was so celebrated barely a year ago. Guys like Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, who were supposed to be part of the reward for putting so much effort into getting that stadium built.
But the reward became a pure salary dump. When it comes to Miami baseball, owned by an art dealer whose masterpieces are fire sales, it’s a tradition unlike any other.
Throughout baseball media circles, owner Jeffrey Loria is being drawn and quartered, and rightfully so. A quick trip around the Internet finds him compared to a cockroach and accused of running a Ponzi scheme.
And here in Milwaukee, why should you care?
Because guys like Loria should remind Brewers fans just how lucky they are to have Mark Attanasio.
Ownership matters, far more than coaching and talent. It’s the source of a team’s culture and direction. And while good ownership can’t guarantee success, bad ownership can certainly guarantee frustration.
Attanasio is everything a Milwaukee baseball fan could hope for in an owner. He maximizes team revenue while keeping the fan experience affordable. Moreover, he puts that revenue back into the team, preferring to maximize wins over maximizing profit.
This is not to say Attanasio is some uber-altruist with no concern for the bottom line. He’s still a businessman, and he must operate by a businessman’s rules. It’s one thing to risk small operating losses during realistic championship pushes, as happened when the Brewers flirted with $100 million payrolls in 2011 and 2012. It’s another to bloat your payroll so much that you can’t realistically forge both a profit and a contender. That’s why Prince Fielder’s $214 million contract is in Detroit and not Milwaukee.
But any Brewers fan who doesn’t believe Attanasio takes every pragmatic measure to make his club a winner hasn’t been paying attention. And while Milwaukee may not have the deep pockets of those coastal conglomerates, it doesn’t have the deep mistrust of a man like Loria, either.
For once, the winter in Milwaukee will be far preferable to the one in Miami.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I tweet as howiemag. And listen to me chat sports with Mitch Teich monthly on WUWM’s “Lake Effect.”