Sports has become a world of narratives. Everything that takes place seems to have or need a narrative to hold our attention.
Lebron kicked off the summer narrative of redemption with his return to Cleveland. By doing so, he’s given the most despised figure in the history of South Florida sports a chance at his own redemption.
I’m talking about Jeffrey Loria. The man who has traded all stars, Triple Crown winners, MVP’s, and World Series champions for pennies on a dollar. He also fleeced our community out of over $500 million public dollars, destroying the greatest sports venue we’ve ever had in the Orange Bowl for a new stadium. This is a stadium that now has fewer people in it most nights than the waiting line at Versailles.
He’s taken a baseball fan base that once filled a football stadium with over three million fans (and over 70,000 for Game 7 of the 1997 World Series) and reduced it to rubble.
Yes, that guy.
Incredibly, he has another chance at South Florida love again. To get it, he needs to sign Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez to long-term deals immediately. It’s a no-brainer.
Now that you’ve all stopped laughing at the last paragraph, here’s why it must happen. In case you haven’t noticed, we have a little bit of a star void with Lebron taking his talents back to the Rust Belt. Yes, we still have D Wade and Chris Bosh — stars, good guys, and South Florida lifers. But they need company on our Sports Mount Rushmore.
Where are the next two stars coming from to join them?
The Dolphins? They star in more mug shots and lawsuits than anything on the field — a team completely void of personality and identity.
The Panthers? Rebuilding job #14. This one has potential but is still lacking star power.
That brings us to the Marlins, who in case you haven’t noticed, have two of the brightest stars in baseball. Guys who possess both megawatt personalities and talent. The two things that hold our attention and interest in sports.
Giancarlo Stanton is the slugger, one of only a handful of players in MLB today that make you stop what you are doing to watch him hit. The All Star festivities also introduced us to his smile and personality. It’s off the charts and he’s only 24.
Jose Fernandez is currently recovering from Tommy John Surgery. He’s to pitching what Stanton is to hitting. It’s appointment viewing and he’s going to be 22 at the end of the month.
“WE’VE GOT THEM BOTH……AT A DISCOUNT.”
It’s time for discount shopping to end for Jeffrey Loria. While it has lined his pockets with money and a higher franchise value, it’s come at the expense of his fan base and his reputation.
The current trend in MLB is for teams — in large and small markets — to lock up their young talent to long-term deals before they hit free agency. They make “offers they can’t refuse” and secure the services of their young stars through their arbitration and early free agent years. All the cool kids are doing it. It’s time the Marlins joined in as well.
The entire industry is awash with money, thanks to MLBAM, regional sports networks, and new national TV deals. This is one instance where it’s not an issue of money. The Marlins have the money. Plenty of it.
It comes down to the desire of one man to flip the script of how we as fans, as well as his peers, view him. He can change the narrative with a stroke of a pen. No matter how much money Loria has, one would think he hates being a constant punchline for ineptitude and dishonesty. Owners have egos too. It’s not just limited to players.
Sign both Stanton and Fernandez to six-year deals. Show the fans and industry you no longer want to be a punchline. Announce to the world you are ready to get with the program and run the Marlins like the viable franchise it can be.
Two deals. That’s all it takes for Jeffrey Loria to feel the love again. The beauty of redemption.
Two simple decisions and Loria goes from a punchline to the head of the line.