Now that everyone has calmed down about Jeffrey Lorias latest contribution to the national pastime conscience-crushing behavior perhaps we can remember what his role in baseball history is.To do exactly this. He did it in Montreal, so that Major League Baseball might repopulate Washington. Hes done it a few times in Florida now, and has no more sleepless nights about that than he would if he accidentally forgot to let his dog out before bedtime.This is what he does, and baseball is fine with it because he hasnt caused them any irritation in any other way. He is a good soldier, votes the way the boys want him to, and in exchange for that good behavior, he gets to cheerfully loot a town and burn its baseball fans.How is that different from, say, Charlie Finley in days of yore, or Frank McCourt more recently? Easy. Loria plays ball with the people he has to play ball with, and baseball will put up with any manner of behavior as long as the buttered of the bread is acknowledged and mollified.Finley didnt, and was effectively squeezed out of baseball. McCourt sued for his right to turn zero dollars into a billion, and baseball, being the feckless operation it often is, agreed just to be rid of him which, actually, it isnt yet.Loria, though, did exactly what an owner does these days. He squeezed a community out of stadium money, while promising no quid in return for the quo, and owners approve of that. Plus, he didnt offend his partners in any fiduciary way, except that his name will be brought up with about 11 others when the next round of complaints over revenue sharing come up.You see, baseballs hierarchy doesnt actually care whether an individual tries to win or not, and never has. It wants its franchises to keep up the property, and see to it that franchise values rise. Loria may be a notorious freebooter, but the franchise he bought for 158 million ten years ago is now worth 450 million in the last Forbes valuation. That, weirdly, is almost exactly what he has spent on player salaries and bonuses over the last 10 years.In exchange for that, he has one World Series, a bunch of angry local citizens, a federal investigation about how he got the approval for his new stadium, and if he sells, he will make all that back and plenty more.By baseballs definition, he is a hell of an owner. They would take three of him before one Mark Cuban, and make of that what you will.Truth be told, theres nothing baseball intends to do about Loria, now or in the future, as long as he remembers not to be a pain in the hinder to his partners. The only real response the citys baseball fans can make is to refuse to patronize the dumpster fire that is his team. And the feds, well, theyre a whole different story entirely.But what the Marlins did Tuesday, and will continue to do in their relentless search for the perfect payroll the minimum times 25, or 12,250,000 is for our outrage and amusement alone. No, theyre not trying, and no, they dont care that you know it. They are contemptuous of what the public thinks is the reason for owning a baseball team, while being entirely solicitous of the real reason to own one.To play nice with your partners, and make more money than you can possibly eat.To that news, you may fulminate all you wish, but baseball being fine with his business practices just reminds you that what you are watching has nothing to do with what the owners are doing. They are not sportsmen, and never have been. They bought teams to make money, and those who dont follow Lorias philosophy at least admire his brass. They would do exactly this if they could.And when the day comes that they have to, theyll know the trail has already been re-cleared for them.
Loria's repeat offense just part of baseball business
November 14, 2012, 10:27 pm