Why Won’t Bud Selig Stop Jeffrey Loria?

The blockbuster deal in which three-quarters of the Miami Marlins are to be sent to Toronto in return for a bag of balls has yet to be officially approved by MLB. At the moment, commissioner Bud Selig is reviewing the details of the trade. Publicly, he’s saying that he’s considering the “anger” of Marlins fans (both of them!) and what’s best for baseball; his direct comment is, “I am very protective of this sport.”

But is that really what’s weighing on his mind? Or is there something else hanging over his head that bothers him much more about this deal?

Let’s be frank: Bud Selig doesn’t give a rat’s ass about “what’s best for baseball.” Unless “what’s best” is measured in billions of dollars generated by 30 owners. How is forcing interleague play down everyone’s throats an example of being “protective” of the sport? How was allowing PEDs run rampant throughout the game until just a few years ago “protective” of baseball? But I digress …

On the outside, yes, Marlins fans might be hoppin’ mad about Jeffrey Loria jettisoning nearly every “name” player from Miami over the past six months. The city of Miami surely is ticked off about funding a $600M Major League stadium that will be housing a minor-league ballclub in 2013. The few Marlins players left in Miami are pretty upset as well. But it’s Loria’s team, and he can do what he wants with it. It could be argued that the trade makes plenty of sense, both from a business perspective and long-term baseball planning. (Ironically, the Marlins are employing the “do it wrong quickly” strategy we discussed recently; I’m personally curious to see how it turns out.) And that’s what Selig is saying publicly when asked about the deal — per The New York Times:

He said he talked to two independent “baseball people” who thought the Marlins did “very well” with the prospects they received from the Blue Jays.

Can Selig put a stop to the deal? Of course he can — he’s the commissioner of baseball and can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. I’m old enough to remember the day Charlie O. Finley sold Vida Blue to the Yankees for a million dollars, only to have the deal overturned by Bowie Kuhn because it “wasn’t in the best interests of baseball.” I also remember the day that Selig surreptitiously moved his beloved Brewers out of the AL East and into the newly formed NL Central while no one was looking. And we will all see the Houston Astros move from the National League to the American League next April — because “symmetry” is apparently what’s best for baseball. You’re telling me that Bud Selig can move entire franchises from one league to the other, but he can’t stop a trade? It’s simply implausible.

Speaking of moving franchises, does anyone remember the Montreal Expos? Their last owner — before MLB, that is — was Jeffrey Loria. Loria bought a stake in the Expos for twelve million dollars in 1999, and through other partners dropping out, wound up with 94% control of the team. Loria didn’t very much like Canada, though — it was cold up there, people spoke French, the taxes were high, and the city of Montreal refused to fund a new stadium (sound familiar?). Meantime, the owner of the Marlins — John Henry — really wanted to own the Boston Red Sox instead. So, Bud Selig waved his magic wand and poof! Loria owned the Marlins, Henry owned the Bosox, and MLB wound up with the Expos.

If Selig did all this, why can’t he stop the trade? Looking at his past history with Loria, we can dream up all kinds of conspiracy theories. It could be that Loria has incriminating pictures of Bud; perhaps this is a payback to Canada for screwing over Montreal; maybe the two men car-pool to the Bildeberg meetings. I’m not really sure, but there seems to be something fishy going on (pardon the pun).

Personally, I believe that the Marlins have every right to trade whomever they want, whenever they want. And, I believe that this could eventually turn out to be the best thing for Miami. But I don’t believe these are the reasons Bud Selig will approve the trade; there always seems to be an ulterior motive with ol’ BeelzeBud. For example, forcing the Astros to the AL has nothing to do with symmetrical beauty — it’s step one in a grand plan to end the division of leagues and in turn, the end of pitchers taking at-bats and the ability to parade the Yankees around to fill seats in every MLB city, every year. An example that’s more to the point was Selig’s installation of Sandy Alderson as the Mets GM — which had less to do with “righting the ship” and more to do with proving to the world that a team in the biggest market could be successful with a small-market budget. If that ever plays out, Selig’s hope is that it would lead to lowered player salaries across MLB — and more profit in the owners’ pockets. THAT’S what Bud means when he says he’s “protective” of the sport. Bud Selig comes from the small-market town of Milwaukee, and when his little budget couldn’t compete with the big, bad Yankees, he moved the team out of the division (funny, though, the Brewers DID win the AL East in 1982, and were the second-half AL East winners in strike-shortened ’81, so it WAS possible for that little town to compete). Ever since, Selig has been quietly working on his socialist-based master plan, where everyone is equal, and the rich give to the poor. If not for the MLBPA, there absolutely, positively would be a strict salary cap; but since that’s not possible, Selig’s recourse is the highly discouraging luxury tax and the championing of winning with small-market budgets. And that’s where Selig gets stuck with this Marlins trade: it is a public admission by Jeffrey Loria that throwing money around doesn’t necessarily result in winning — which is Bud’s mantra. But that’s not my opinion; it was stated as recently as 24 hours ago by Bud himself in describing the Mets. Reported by David Lennon in Newsday:

“It’s interesting how you rebuild or how you do things. Spending money doesn’t guarantee anybody anything.”

See what I mean? It would be damn hard for Selig to say to Loria, “whoa, hold on pal, you can’t dump all that salary — your plan was to buy a championship and you’re sticking with it!”

On the flip side, this mega-deal just made the Blue Jays a viable contender to win the AL East — you know, that little division that also includes the big bad Yankees? No matter how much money any other team spends, it will never be as much as the Yankees, so if another team can topple the Bronx Bombers, in Bud’s mind it’s further proof that the “little guy” can win (with his comparatively meager amount of money) and that a team doesn’t need to spend like the Yankees to win. So again, how could Selig say “no way” to a deal that may help a team not based in the Bronx to win the AL East?

Again, I don’t necessarily like the idea of Loria turning his team into a minor league club for the next 2-3 years, but I do believe he has the right to do so — especially since MLB is so watered-down, it’s impossible to fill 30 teams completely with legitimate Major League talent. Ironically, with so much of the talent flocking to the American League — and the AL East in particular — MLB has become unusually top-heavy, forcing “less fortunate” teams such as the Astros, Mets, Marlins, and Cubs employ strategies that include completely throwing away seasons and operating as AAA clubs. Is that parity? Is that equality? Is it “good for baseball” when a half-dozen teams go into spring training knowing full well they have no shot at the postseason?

But maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist; maybe Bud Selig isn’t going to veto the trade because he believes, like me, that it’s Jeffrey Loria’s team and he can do with it what he wishes. What’s your thought?

12-13 Offseason

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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