The Santa Clara
April 27, 2017
Derek Jeter is no longer a Yankee for life. A five-person ownership group led by former governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush and the MLB icon won the auction to purchase the Miami Marlins for $1.3 billion from former owner Jeffrey Loria.
The change in ownership will be well-received by Marlins fans and could be a boost to the entire MLB if other franchises had the same fortune and were purchased by more high-profile and proactive owners.
In the case of the Marlins, Loria was often a detriment to the franchise and in turn the league. Loria alienated his employees (players and team personnel) and his fans, letting his team’s payroll dip well below the league average leading to years of losing seasons. Not to mention he also forced public funding for the team’s over-budget and rarely filled new stadium. Loria’s missteps as an owner are very publicized, but he is not the only low-energy and dysfunctional owner who’s played a part in the declining performance and popularity of the MLB.
The common theme with Loria and other polarizing MLB owners is that they have refused to be proactive and adapt to changing times. Despite some recent success, they have put their fans through constant losing seasons and frustration because of their stubbornness and inadequacy. They lack perspective and vision and are more focused on self-preservation and profit-seeking. They lack energy; they’re out of touch with what fans expect and it has hurt the league.
A blueprint baseball can use for their new era of owners can be seen NBA owners Steve Ballmer and Mark Cuban. Ballmer and Cuban have the notoriety and energy to adapt their franchises with changing times, stay competitive and energize their fans.
Both are extremely recognizable public figures from their business exploits and massive net worth—Ballmer as the former CEO of Microsoft and Cuban as one of the most notable entrepreneurs in the entire world. They have the clout to appeal to the masses and have turned teams with extensive losing histories into perennial contenders.
Cuban purchased the Mavericks in 2000, following a decade of missing the playoffs. He immediately rejuvenated the franchise, missing the playoffs only twice since 2000 and winning a championship in 2011.
Ballmer has kept the Clippers as a top contender in the Western Conference since he purchased the franchise for a whopping $2 billion dollars in 2014. He has visions for a new arena and is committed to putting Los Angeles in a position to win a championship in the near future.
The billionaire owners are loved by the fans, who appreciate their receptiveness and desire for the success of the franchise.
The NBA and MLB are on completely different trajectories, but the effect of a high-profile owner who can come in and energize fans is undeniable. Miami and the MLB will be better because of the new Marlins ownership group, and hopefully the sport long dubbed “America’s pastime” can begin to adapt to the present.
Ben Epstein is a senior finance major.