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Sports Column: Marlins' trade leaves fans in cold

I’ve been a Pittsburgh Pirates fan all of my life. I’ve endured many of the worst player personnel moves ever made.

I’ve seen players such as Aramis Ramirez, one of the best third basemen of the past decade, traded for what amounted to a couple of helmet stickers.

I watched as Jose Bautista evolved into the best power hitter in baseball after being dumped by the Pirates so that future All-Stinker Andy LaRoche could man the hot corner.

An enlightened man once said, “It could always be worse.”

I never thought it could get worse than what Pirates fans have to go through. The usual salary dumps, predictable late season collapses, empty promises from ownership.

As I said, that certainly was one enlightened man.

Tuesday, the city of Miami, Major League Baseball, and most importantly, Marlins fans, suffered the biggest letdown from ownership in professional sports history.

Less than a year after spending more money than they ever had before to bring in some of the biggest-name free agents on the market, the Marlins have blown up their entire operation.

They traded shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, center fielder Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck to the Blue Jays for a few “top” prospects and the always-unpredictable shortstop Yunel Escobar.

This comes after the team already traded off pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Heath Bell, and second baseman Omar Infante.

Their opening day payroll for this past season was more than $118 million, yet, after the smoke clears from this historic trade, Miami’s payroll will be projected to be around $35 million, according to Baseball Prospectus.

For those keeping track, that’s cutting payroll by roughly two-thirds.

So what if the team wants to move forward with a bunch of prospects trying to become the next wave of talent?

Because they made a promise to their community, and failed.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has long had a reputation for being one of the cheapest in the game. He is the owner who essentially ran the Expos out of Montreal, only to be rewarded with the opportunity to own another team.

After years of fighting for a new stadium while ensuring he wouldn’t have to foot the bill, Loria finally got his wish. He secured more than $500 million in taxpayer money to build Marlins Park after he claimed the franchise was in “poverty” and not making a profit.

They promised in return they would spend money on the team, something that was as un-Marlin as a kangaroo.

Keep in mind, this is taxpayer money spent in an area, Little Havana, where education is suffering and crime rates are high.

Now, Loria has the Securities and Exchange Commission investigating team financial records that show while the owner was claiming the team was losing money, they actually were turning a profit.

The most disgusting part of all, Loria could decide to just get out of the business now, sell the team and the taxpayer-funded stadium that comes with it, and turn a massive profit.

When an entire city suffers because of an owner more concerned with his bottom-line than his on-field product, something has to be done. Commissioner Bud Selig needs to take action not only to correct this situation, but also to ensure it never happens again. Hopefully, this is the moment where the sports world finally notices an owner went too far.

From a Pirates fan to a Marlins supporter, I offer the words of another deeply philosophical man.

“Welcome to the club.”

Allan Smith is a sophomore studying journalism. Email him with your thoughts about the Marlins-Blue Jays trade at

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