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Forbes recently released its annual Business of Baseball issue for 2009. One year ago I started this blog by looking very closely at the Forbes numbers as they pertained to the Florida Marlins.
Back then I got some attention at two of the most popular MLB blogs: Sabernomics & The Hardball Times [THT]. Then in June, an interview with me was posted in THT. Aside from an initial concern over being labeled a ‘fiend’ on a web site whose title includes the word ‘hard,’ I was very appreciative to JC Bradbury from Sabernomics and John Beamer from THT for the attention.
Since then, I have written posts about the following topics, none of whose underlying logic has changed:
- How I used Forbes to develop my profit and loss estimates
- Why Forbes is reliable
- Why the Marlins profitability is treated as an open question
- Deconstructing Marlins denials of profitability
- The breach in MLB’s Finances, aka The Omertà Deal
- Forbes 2008 Marlins valuation was 97.4% accurate
For the record despite being familiar with the Forbes numbers, I supported the Ballpark deals with local governments. I thought the Norman Braman lawsuit(s) were a cynical misuse of the court system, attempting to capitalize on the Marlins misleading public statements about their profitability, when he must have known better.
But there is a flip side to fact that the Marlins have been denying their profitability, which is complimentary to the Marlins management. In effect, the Marlins will be very responsible corporate partners with local governments in the building of the Ballpark. Because by the time the Ballpark opens, the Marlins will have saved and likely set aside all of their portion of the Ballpark construction costs. They did so by budgeting and running their franchise since 2006 as though they were not receiving any revenue sharing monies [which differ from Central Fund monies distributed]. In short, the Marlins got the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox to pay for their share of the new Ballpark.
Think about it, once the Marlins survived [since the team performed well] their big gamble in 2006 to field a team with the lowest possible salaries, they could have continued to pull in the same level of profits while making only token efforts to secure a Ballpark deal. That could eventually have forced MLB’s hand to allow them to relocate, with a new city and stadium potentially waiting for them.
But that’s not what they did, they went out and succeeded where Huizenga and Henry had failed. So while Loria may expect to profit even more with the new Ballpark sometime in the future, the day the Ballpark was approved, he was a much less wealthy man than he had been if it failed. That I believe, like the Marlins profitability since 2006, is a fact.
If Jeffrey Loria were from a different part of New York, say Carlito Brigante’s neighborhood, here’s what he might have said following the approval of the new Ballpark by local governments:
Your Honor with all due respect past and present, and without further to-do. Let me assure this court that I am through walkin’ on the revenue sharing receiver side. That’s all I’ve been tryin’ to tell you. I have become known throughout MLB as cheap, but my time in the sterling correctional facilities of Montreal and Broward County has not been in vain. I’ve been cured!
Born again, like the Watergaters. I know you heard this rap before. Your Honors, I mean it. This is the truth. I changed. I changed and it didn’t take no eternity like Huizenga and Henry thought, but only seven years. That’s right, sir. Seven not-so lean years. And look at me. Completely rehabilitated, reinvigorated, reassimilated, and finally gonna be relocated.
And I want to thank a lot of people for that. I look over there and I see that man there, Mr. Norman Braman. I want to thank you, sir, for making a wealthy arts dealer a sympathetic figure. I would like to thank Commissioner Selig for not including a salary floor in the new collective bargaining agreement. And finally, I want to thank the Almighty revenue sharing payer teams, without whom no low revenue team could prosper while awaiting a new facility.
Carlito Brigante’s speech is copied in full at end of post.
Carlito’s Way – Opening scene
Pacino: Now I ain’t sayin’ that my way would have been different had my mother been alive when I was a kid, ’cause that’s all you hear in the joint. “I didn’t have a chance.” No. Bullshit. I was already a mean little bastard while my mother was alive, and I know it. But I learned about women from her.
Mazursky: Mr. Brigante, there are cases on the court’s docket for this morning. Why am I listening to this?
Penn: Your Honor, Mr. Brigante is understandably excited having been vindicated after five years of incarceration.
Mazursky: There’s no vindication here, counselor. Or absolution, or benediction, or anything other than an incredible convergence of circumstances which you’ve exploited to your client’s benefit.
Penn: Your Honor, these circumstances that you speak of include illegal wiretaps and tainted evidence.This is a classic “fruit of the poisoned tree” situation. I think after five years of unjust incarceration it’s reasonable to request Mr. Brigante be indulged his right to speak.
Mazursky: Okay, Mr. Brigante, I’m all ears.
Pacino: Your Honor with all due respect past and present, and without further to-do. Let me assure this court that I am through walkin’ on the wild side. That’s all I’ve been tryin’ to tell you. I have been sick with the social ills known in the ghetto but my time in the sterling correctional facilities of Green Haven and Sing Sing has not been in vain. I’ve been cured!
Born again, like the Watergaters. I know you heard this rap before. Your Honor, I mean it. This is the truth. I changed. I changed and it didn’t take no 30 years like Your Honor thought, but only five. That’s right, sir. Five years. And look at me. Completely rehabilitated reinvigorated, reassimilated, and finally gonna be relocated.
And I want to thank a lot of people for that. I look over there and I see that man there, Mr. Norwalk. I want to thank you, sir, for making the tapes in an illegal fashion. I would like to thank the Court of Appeals for reversing you, Your Honor. And I want to thank Almighty God, without whom no case gets tossed.
Mazursky: I can’t believe this.
Pacino: I must have forgot. How could I forget my dear, close friend and lawyer David Kleinfeld, who never gave up on me through everything, thick and thin. Why don’t you just stand up?
Penn: I’m sorry.
Mazursky: Mr. Brigante!
Pacino: Davey Kleinfeld.
Mazursky: You’re not accepting an award. Court of Appeals’ decision and the District Attorney’s unfortunate investigative techniques now devolve upon me the painful duty of unleashing upon society a reputed assassin and convicted purveyor of narcotics.
Pacino: No. Never convicted on no dope.
Mazursky: The indictment is dismissed. Prisoner is discharged. Call the next case.
It seems like you’ve come around to my way of thinking which is that this shallow pocketed owner needed to set money aside if he was to have any chance of paying for a portion of a new ballpark.
While I’m trying to be fair, I can’t go as far as conceding that the Marlins ‘needed’ to do this or that Loria is ‘shallow-pocketed.’
What I do think is that they took advantage of two important developments in MLB since his purchase of the team:
– The lack of a salary base or floor for Revenue Sharing [RS] receiver teams in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement [CBA] in 2006.
– The watered down or just completely ignored provision in the CBA regarding the use of RS funds having to be used to “improve on-field performance.”
While I think it important to acknowledge that the Marlins could have just run the franchise into the ground and attempted to force MLB to move them elsewhere, the reason that was not just an empty threat is that Loria already had done that once in his MLB owner career, in Montreal.