Marlins-Reared Cabrera Wins Triple Crown

By  //  November 19, 2012

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PETER KERASOTIS: MY TAKE

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In the same week that Miami Marlins fans were painfully reminded of their team’s past, they got an equally painful reminder of their future.

It was a week that saw Miguel Cabrera win baseball’s coveted MVP Award, thanks to his historic Triple Crown season where he led the American League in home runs, batting average (for the second straight season) and runs batted in. Nobody had performed that ultra-rare trifecta since 1967, when the great Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski accomplished it with the Boston Red Sox.

Miguel Cabrera win baseball’s coveted MVP Award, thanks to his historic Triple Crown season where he led the American League in home runs, batting average (for the second straight season) and runs batted in. (MrHighlightVideos image)

Yeah, Miguel Cabrera.

The same Miguel Cabrera who came up through the Marlins’ farm system, pegged as a future phenom. The same Miguel Cabrera who debuted with the Marlins in 2003 as a precocious 20-year-old, living up to every bit of his advanced billing when he hit a walk-off home run in his very first MLB game. The same Miguel Cabrera who became the Marlins’ cleanup hitter that season.

Later in 2003, at the World Series, in a pivotal Game 4 against the New York Yankees, Cabrera stepped to the plate for the first time against Roger Clemens. Clemens buzzed a fastball right beneath Cabrera’s chin.

Hello, rookie.

A few pitches later, Cabrera launched a two-run homer off Clemens deep into the right-field bleachers.

Goodbye, veteran.

And goodbye Yankees.

Cabrera’s home run propelled the Marlins to a victory and tied that World Series at two games apiece. More than that, it dramatically shifted the momentum. I know. I was at all those games. The Yankees never rebounded from Cabrera’s blow, losing the final two games and the series, four games to two. It was, perhaps not coincidentally, the last time the Marlins have even played in a postseason.

Cabrera’s home run propelled the Marlins to a victory and tied that World Series at two games apiece. More than that, it dramatically shifted the momentum. I know. I was at all those games. The Yankees never rebounded from Cabrera’s blow, losing the final two games and the series, four games to two. It was, perhaps not coincidentally, the last time the Marlins have even played in a postseason.

Yeah, that Miguel Cabrera.

Only 20. He was the homegrown superstar who would one day wear a Marlins cap into the Hall of Fame.

Except, of course, this is the Marlins we’re talking about. This isn’t so much a baseball organization as it is an organ donor program for the rest of MLB.

So, sure enough, just four years later, just as Cabrera was reaching the sweet spot of his career – or, more specifically, just when he was reaching that stage of his career when he could earn a superstar’s salary – he was traded to Detroit. There, with the Tigers, he joined former Marlins manager Jim Leyland and former Marlins general manager Dave Dombrowski, two of the best in the business at what they do.

Which is the point, really.

If you’re any good with the Marlins, much less great, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be gone. The major leagues are filled with former Marlins, having success in various capacities with other teams and franchises.

This, after all, is what the Marlins are, almost as if its written in their DNA. In their relatively short history as a franchise, they’re known for winning two World Series titles – in 1997 and 2003 – and for their fire sales and their brushfire sales. Whether it’s big trades or small trades, the Marlins always seem to be trading away their future.

It seems only fitting, then, that in the same week that Marlins fans were painfully reminded of their past – i.e. Miguel Cabrera – they saw their future traded away.

Only hours separated the two announcements this past week, that Cabrera had won the AL MVP Award, and that the Marlins had traded five key players to the Toronto Blue Jays for prospects.

Jeffrey Loria

At the owners meetings in Chicago, which was also this past week, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria got defiant with media members who wanted comments from him about this latest fire sale for the franchise. Loria, as arrogant as he is, probably doesn’t see it this way, but when he’s defiant with the media, he’s really being defiant toward fans. That’s not surprising, though, when you consider who Jeffrey Loria is. When there was outrage throughout South Florida earlier this year when his manager, Ozzie Guillen, made complimentary remarks about – of all people, and in all markets – Fidel Castro, Loria ignored the calls from scores of fans to fire Guillen immediately.

So when he refuses to answer media questions, Loria is really refusing to answer the same questions that his fan base has, the same fan base that through their $634 million in tax dollars built him a gorgeous new ballpark in Miami, only to see him field a team in the stadium’s inaugural season that lost 93 games and finish in last place.

Now he’s trading away the heart of the team – shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, catcher John Buck and infielder Emilio Bonifacio, all to the Toronto Blue Jays for a bunch of prospects that Loria claims will be building blocks for the future.

Riiiiiight.

When you read the names Andrew MillerDallas TrahernEulogio De La CruzBurke BadenhopCameron Maybin and catcher Mike Rabelo, does it remind you of anything? Do those names even ring a bell?

Meanwhile, when respected baseball writers like USA TODAY‘s Bob Nightengale asked Loria at the owners meeting to comment on this latest fire sale and explain his rationale for it, just months after moving into a new stadium, Loria snapped as he brushed past reporters, “Not today, boys. If you guys haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not going to figure it out for you.”

Those were the names of the players the Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for, four years ago this December 5, claiming they would be building blocks for the future.

Most of them are out of baseball today, none of them are still with the Marlins, and definitely none became marquee major league players.

Is there any wonder that there is so much anger and frustration in South Florida?

Meanwhile, when respected baseball writers like USA TODAY‘s Bob Nightengale asked Loria at the owners meeting to comment on this latest fire sale and explain his rationale for it, just months after moving into a new stadium, Loria snapped as he brushed past reporters, “Not today, boys. If you guys haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not going to figure it out for you.”

To that, Nightengale wrote:

We figured it out, all right.

            You’re an owner who betrayed your fans, deceived your players and has lost credibility for as long as you stay in the game.

            If the backlash from the Marlins’ latest fire sale — a 12-player deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that left the Marlins with no financial commitments beyond 2013 — wasn’t enough, along came more bad news when Loria revealed that he has no intentions of selling the team.

            Hey, why should he? He has lowered his payroll from $118 million to about $30 million in salary commitments in 2013, meaning he should pocket about $110 million in profits next year, thanks to that fancy ballpark his local taxpayers provided.”

Later, in another USA TODAY article, Nightengale compared what Loria did in South Florida to a Ponzi scheme, writing:

            The Miami Marlins pulled off the ultimate Ponzi scheme, getting South Florida taxpayers to pay for a new ballpark to watch a product that simply doesn’t exist.

            Bernie Madoff is spending the rest of his life in prison for his con job. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and President David Samson get to walk free, enjoying the fine artwork, fish tanks and swimming pools in their $634 million facility.

            The Marlins, after a $190 million spending spree last winter to let their fans know they’ll forever be contenders, abruptly traded virtually their entire team across the border.

And when Loria was asked if he would be selling the franchise, something Marlins fans wishes he would do, he retorted, “More stupidity.”

Bud Selig

Meanwhile, MLB commissioner Bud Selig told reporters, “I am aware of the anger. I am. I’m also aware that in Toronto they’re very happy. We have this entire matter under thorough review.”

There’s not much, if anything, that Selig can do.

Marlins fans, though, do have recourse.

They’ve been inflicted with a lot of pain during Loria’s reign over their franchise. Now they can inflict some pain in return, and do so where it’ll hurt Loria the most – in his wallet. Loria might believe otherwise, but loyalty is a two-way street.

Each empty seat in that brand new stadium next season can make that statement.

Something tells me that Marlins fans are already of that.


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6 Comments on "Marlins-Reared Cabrera Wins Triple Crown"

  1. Charles "Phil" Smith November 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm · Reply

    Another great article! Loria is one of the worst owners in ALL Professional Sports. Poor Miami people should be fed up and follow your advice. Do not buy tickets. This is one reason I am never in favor of “taxpayers” paying for stadiums.

  2. Paul Lewis November 20, 2012 at 4:49 am · Reply

    Peter,
    Thanks for another great article. As usual, it displays your great insight, wit, and ability to weave important and relevant facts into a flowing and interesting story. Take care and keep these great articles coming!

    Paul Lewis

  3. Charlie Greene November 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm · Reply

    Hi Peter,
    Another nail on the head article. You have honed your skills far above the excellence you had at Florida Today. Best thing that ever happened to you. Thanks for keeping me in the mix.

  4. Charley Hester November 21, 2012 at 9:32 am · Reply

    Thanks for another great article Peter; right on the target. Unfortunately, fans are sheep, and will continue to buy those outrageously priced tickets, and the beat will go on.

  5. Bryan Elias March 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm · Reply

    This is why I have a big problem with tax payer subsidized sports arenas and parks.

    • Bryan Elias March 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm · Reply

      P.S. Jeff Loria

      Thank you for basically giving Cabrera to my Tigers. We know how to treat a great player like him, and it’s likely he’ll retire wearing the big D.

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