I have 2 problems with the Marlins management.
The 1st is that they are taking monies clearly intended for player salaries [“improve onfield performance” says the CBA] and using it for other purposes [stadium]. But they are not the only team doing it [just the most consistently blatant] and MLB and the Players Union are complicit in that abuse, since until this week, no team had ever been publicly called out on that strategy, other than occasional grumblings by some of the more aggrieved owners who realized they were unintended sugar daddies [Hank Steinbrenner & John Henry].
But even if the Marlins were ‘allowed’ to break the spirit of the CBA on revenue sharing, given certain MLB political and financial intrigue, it’s still wrong, especially to a fan base which has been told that the Marlins couldn’t afford to spend more.
That’s my 2nd problem. The Marlins, as well as most MLB franchises, are intentionally misleading about their finances. So while I believe that being intentionally misleading is part of David Samson’s job description, not some character flaw, it still does not change the fact that he states things which are not true. Loria’s & Samson’s problems are that the Marlins finances are among the least complicated in MLB, since they do not own a Regional Sports Network [RSN].
When teams have RSN’s — most of the big market teams have them, i.e. Yankees and Yes Network — then what they are earning in local revenues from cable rights can be manipulated since they can set the rates to be the most advantageous for each of the companies who share the same owner.
On a yearly basis Forbes gives us a pretty good idea of what MLB [actually they do the same for all major sports] teams are earning and their estimated worth. In the case of teams with no RSN’s, Forbes basically gives us an excellent idea, because the numbers they put out are more straightforward. What I have done with the Forbes numbers is to fill in some of the detail blanks to show it as a Profit & Loss financial statement.
The public slap down of the Marlins spending also serves as an official confirmation that Forbes estimates of the Marlins operating profits since 2006 are accurate. Below are Forbes operating profits and my estimates [which tie into the Forbes numbers] of revenue sharing [RS] the Marlins have received:
2006 – $43 operating profits / received $38 in RS
2007 – $36 operating profits / received $35 in RS
2008 – $44 operating profits / received $38 in RS
The revenue sharing system intended that low revenue teams like the Marlins could compete with higher revenue teams. The Marlins deserve to be called out for keeping that money [$111 over the past 3 years] and then attempting to mislead others that they did not.
To be fair, if the Marlins had not secured a stadium deal, then those $111 would have remained in their pockets, instead of going towards the stadium. The Marlins without a new stadium could have probably gotten MLB to agree to relocating them. After all, Loria already has experience in running down a franchise and forcing MLB into a relocation. see Montreal Expos.