You think for a moment that the South East Conference must finally be investigating ‘the U,’ but wait a minute; the Hurricaines don’t play in the SEC! No; it’s the Securities and Exchange Commission, and this MLB franchise investigation doesn’t involve Bernie Madoff. It involves the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County issuing over $480 million in bonds to build a stadium for a team which would not show them its financial documents. Oh yeah; they signed Jose Reyes and Heath Bell! That’s actually the punchline, in that area taxpayers get the two players in a trade — for municipal service and job cuts.
That’s right, the city and county are broke. The Marlins, however, are not broke and never have been. They blew up their last World Series winning team immediately, citing the certainty that it would happen anyway, given their poverty. That poverty, it turns out, was a savvy hoax. The team playing in a football stadium with a consistent and predictably terrible win-loss record was making money, and hiding it in Fastowian ways. It should be mentioned around this time that current Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria once sold a Major League Baseball team to Major League Baseball, which is kind of like somehow convincing Ford Motor Company to buy your old lemon. Between that and the sweetheart deal that Washington gave the ‘spos to become the Nat’s, people might start to realize that Bud not only knew, but has abetted the whole ‘tell ‘em your poor and you might have to skip town’ scheme from the get-go.
As always, the Devil is in the details. What? You though the almost half a billion was the devil? Sadly, it is not. Jeff Passan actually gives a very good treatment to this scandal, with good links (including to one of the sources above). Anwyay, as you can see from his article, that 480 million is actually estimated to be close to two and a half billion dollars, once the interest is paid and the thing is finally amortized. Of course, in the meantime, the city and county duke it out over which of them (obviously not Loria and the Marlins) will pay the property tax on the parking garages attached to the stadium.
The people’s view of this is pretty clear, with the mayor at the time of the deal being recalled and summarily booted. The article linked to in the last sentence also refers to the Reagan era tax-code changes that in part enabled so many of these kinds of shenanigans, but the people, like Mike Stanton in the outfield, have yet to catch that one.
There is a final element to this joke, and that is in those financial records leaked to Deadspin. While Paul Beeston once said ‘Under generally accepted accounting principles, I can turn a $4 million profit into a $2 million loss, and I can get every national accounting firm to agree with me’ (Passan), the Marlins actually showed their profit. In other words, if they’d ever seen the books, the former mayor and all his peers in incompetence would have seen it, in black and white. Not red. Just black and white. And anyway, what was Loria going to do? Move the team? To where? Montreal?
With Berkman and three closers (Papelbon, Nathan, and Bell) getting things started, here are the sportsvssports 2011 MLB off-season predictions:
Albert Pujols – St. Louis (Lozano flops again)
Prince Fielder – Chicago Cubs
CJ Wilson – New York Mets
Roy Oswalt – Chicago Cubs
Yu Darvish – Hokkaido
Jose Reyes – Florida (Done pending physical)
Jimmy Rollins – Philadelphia
Mark Buerhle – Washington
Aramis Ramirez – Los Angeles Angels