In what is being called “flip-gate”, people still don’t want to acknowledge that Loria did not make the call. It was stated that Jose Fernandez’s start was flipped with Ricky Nolasco because of the expectation over weather conditions in Minnesota on this past Tuesday, but fans are still more inclined to believe Loria personally made the call instead of reports that the Marlins baseball staff made the decision. Reports are that this was a baseball decision made independently of Loria.
The question now is, why do fans seem to not buy it? Why is it that fans find more satisfaction in negatively depicting the owner of their team rather than accept reports to the contrary? It would seem all of the media depictions of Loria being a liar and a carpetbagger have taken their toll.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that this was a call made by Loria, undercutting Mike Redmond early on in his tenure as manager. He cited “three sources with knowledge of the situation” but they went unnamed. Other outlets ran with this and churned it, making it appear to have legs. Bleacher Report speculated on how Loria’s meddling continues to ruin the franchise and its credibility. Part of the evidence they cite recalls when Loria was in a press conference during Spring Training trying to defend the recent offseason moves. The accusation was that this was a AAA club and he defended his team by saying:
It’s not a Triple-A ball club. It’s a ball club with some pretty impressive players. I wouldn’t call (Placido) Polanco a Triple-A player. I wouldn’t call the new shortstop a Triple-A player. I wouldn’t call our second baseman a Triple-A player. I certainly wouldn’t call Rob Brantly that.
Although he didn’t name Donovan Solano (second baseman) or Adeiny Hechavarria (shortstop), it would seem that Loria’s inability to name them would denote a “hands-off” approach – but that doesn’t seem to be within the arena of speculation for most. In fact, in a poll on Bleacher Report, in that same article, the question was asked about whether or not the Marlins would ever be successful under Loria. Overwhelmingly 94% say “no” while only 5% say “yes” (out of 754 votes at the time).
CBSSports also weighed in on Loria’ meddling while the Toronto Sun also found the story worth mentioning. Rant Sports also decided to run off at the mouth and bash Loria, too. Yet they all have the same source – the Jeff Passan article.
Meanwhile several other reports came out that denied that Loria made the call – Loria himself being interviewed by Ken Rosenthal. It would be expected that a denial would be stated publicly. Then again, can the fan base even believe anything that Loria says? And this is the point. No matter which side of this story you come down on, the credibility of Loria is severely damaged and may be beyond repair. So much so, even Norman Braman, a staunch opponent of public funding for sports billionaires (despite being one himself), came out recently to defend Loria against getting a “bum rap”.
So what to believe? Loria claims he received the phone call about the decision from GM Mike Hill while he was working on deals in the art world. Manny Navarro, at the end of his report for the Miami Herald, seems to suggest a middle ground. Redmond says, “We were all on the call. It was an organizational decision. I’ll leave it at that.” That would mean it was an organizational decision that Redmond, most likely, did not entirely agree with. Either that, or he is tired of talking about it. Either way, something is missing here.
If Loria is messing with his team, it is in his best interest to distance himself from his franchise at this point. The team is horrific – they are just not scoring runs and they are in danger of being swept at home by a Cubs team that would appear to not be any better than they are. Fans will not go to games just out of spite of Loria, regardless of what the record is. Yet, one cannot help but get the sense that the characterizations of Loria the carpetbagging liar are creations of the media. In a fairly recent look from Sport Illustrated, a more balanced picture of Loria emerges as one who is not meddlesome, but an owner who is passionate about winning and that passion can lead towards becoming misguided. Fans of the Marlins should most definitely familiarize themselves with this article – it’s a great read.
It is one thing for the team to be bad which, in point of fact, they only appear to be. This team has lots of talent and a bright future but it just hasn’t come together quite yet. The pitching is there, the defense is improving, and even the offense, as anemic as it is, is only going to get better as Giancarlo Stanton’s bat starts to wake up (he hit his first home run last night in a loss against the Cubs). If this was only about the team on the field, it could be bearable. But because Loria is such a lightening rod for contempt, it just adds to the ire of the Marlins fan. The media seems to prey on this depiction of Loria and it seems to work as the negativity generates readership. Fans have to make a conscious decision to ignore the Loria negativity-material and instead focus on the team that is on the field. This team is not going anywhere; there is no conspiracy to destroy the franchise because there is no incentive or payoff to see it done. Any managerial mistakes are made with the honest intention to improve the franchise and should be evaluated on that basis alone. If anything, the baseball intelligentsia gets a free pass when Loria is demonized. The evaluation process and system that is being employed by the Marlins needs to be examined more closely and scrutinized instead of the polarizing characterization of its owner.