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What’s A Commish To Do?

"Ah, man! You mean these players want to play in Toronto?"

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig found himself with the mother of all headaches.

Taking in proceedings at the annual owners’ meetings, reports emerged that the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays had agreed a blockbuster trade that may just be the equal to last summer’s Dodgers-Red Sox deal.

For those that have been living under a rock, as well as those that have been sleeping off the ESPN College Basketball marathon, here’s a summary of the proposed trade:

Toronto receives:

  • Jose Reyes (SS)
  • Mark Buehrle (LHP)
  • Josh Johnson (RHP)
  • John Buck (C)
  • Emilio Bonifacio (IF/OF)

Miami receives:

  • Yunel Escobar (SS)
  • Jeff Mathis (C)
  • Henderson Alvarez (RHP)
  • Adeiny Hechavarria (IF)
  • Justin Nicolino (LHP)
  • Jake Marisnick (OF)
  • Anthony DeSclafani (RHP)

Miami also receives cash considerations that have yet to be confirmed.

The abridged version was summed up perfectly by ESPN’s report that “just about any (Marlins) player making money is going to Toronto.”

A big trade at the winter meetings? No biggie, right? Happens all the time. Wrong.

Take a look at the deal closely and you’ll see all of the big names involved in this trade are heading north of the border. That’s five more names to add to an extensive list of players no longer plying their trade in South Florida.

Here’s a list of the other names that have been shipped out of Miami since July:

  • Hanley Ramirez (3B) – Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Randy Choate (RHP) – Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Edward Mujica (RHP) – St. Louis Cardinals
  • Gaby Sanchez (1B) – Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Anibal Sanchez (SP – Detroit Tigers
  • Omar Infante (2B) – Detroit Tigers
  • Heath Bell (RP) – Arizona Diamondbacks

Again, no biggie, right? Players get traded all the time.

They certainly do. But consider this, the Marlins just moved in to a brand new ballpark that cost somewhere in the region of $634 million. Do you know who footed a hefty lump of that bill? The people of Miami.

Miami taxpayers are reported to have coughed up 80 percent of the cost of the stadium, in order that the Marlins could escape the very un-baseball-like confines of Dolphins Stadium – or whatever corporate branding it has tacked on to it at this time – and play in a real ballpark.

The average game attendance at Dolphins Stadium across the 19 seasons the Marlins were resident was 19,781. The best season came in 1993 – the franchise’s inaugural season – when an average of 37,838 people made it to each game (more than three million in total). The worst season came in 2002 when a paltry 10,100 fans made it through the gates each game (less than one million in total).

Having forked out for a new ballpark, those taxpayers were all too happy to see the Marlins splash out last winter on the likes of Jose Reyes, Mark Buhrle, and Ozzie Guillén – add the former manager to your list of departees – as well as  making a push for Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.

Now only Giancarlo Stanton – who ws present ahead of the spending spree – remains on the roster, and he’s understandably pleased about the whole scenario. “Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain & Simple,” he said via Twitter. What’s that I hear? Another set of gatorskin luggage snapping shut?

So, Selig in his role of baseball commissioner will have to take a close look at the trade is and determine whether it is in the ‘best interests of baseball’. Of course, those Miami residents footing the bill for Marlins Park could well be considered a part of ‘baseball’.

Well, let’s give Selig a dose of painkillers and make things real simple from the off: leave this trade well alone!

Well alone!

Ask a certain David Stern what happens when the commissioner of a sporting league vetoes a seemingly above board trade. Selig doesn’t need the aggravation that comes with sticking a needle in the proverbial balloon.

Both sides are happy with the trade. The Blue Jays are happy because they’ve now stacked their roster in order that (in theory) it can compete with the stacked AL East. For Miami, they’re happy because they’ve unloaded an underachieving bunch of bums that won just 69 games all season, and in exchange got a healthy slice of young talent.

So what of those fans in Miami?

The average attendance at Marlins Park this season was 27,400. That’s a good bump up on 2011’s mark of 18,772, and it’s actually the third best attendance record in franchise history. Consider this though: that average is nearly 10,000 below the ballpark’s capacity, and this is the third smallest (by seating room) stadium in the entire Big Leagues. It’s not a stretch to say that the Marlins were hardly shoehorning fans in this season.

But it was a losing season, you say. Fans stay away, you say. Well, yes it was and yes they do, but if these fans had been behind their Marlins, shouldn’t they have been at the ballgame. Boston’s fans were and their season was a disaster zone.

Let’s face it; Miami is not a baseball town. The Marlins are well behind the Dolphins and Heat in the professional sports pecking order, and it wouldn’t be too bold a statement to consider the Panthers a bigger draw, if there were games to draw fans to that is.

Miami offloading that hefty payroll is a good move. The move back to a team of veterans, upstarts and unknowns is a good move, especially considering how well it worked back in 1997 and 2003.

So Bud Selig needs to let this one run its course. Aside from those 27,000 regulars at Marlins Park, the entire baseball world sees that this is a good move.

Finally, in case you were wondering; odds of the Blue Jays winning the World Series next season fell from 35/1 to 14/1 on news of the deal. The Jays will improve, so long as they avoid hiring Ozzie Guillén for that vacant manager role.

Miami’s World Series odds went from 40/1 to 100/1. Consider this a building block in returning the Marlins to a glory past.

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