New ballparks don't produce wins

July 25, 2012, 4:39 pm
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If the Oakland As really wanted Hanley Ramirez as badly as people suggest they did, the Florida Marlins did them a mild disservice by sending him to the Dodgers instead.But if they want to be really hot at Jeff Loria and David Samson and Larry Beinfest, they can consider the fact that the Marlins didnt just move Ramirez, but are in the process of dismantling their roster four months into the life of their new ballpark.Kind of nonsense-itizes all those As claims about being more competitive as soon as they get the go-ahead for their new digs, dont it?The Marlins spent lots of money unveiling their new team over the off-season as part of their grand ballpark unveiling, and its turned them into . . . well, a mediocre team in the bottom half of a mediocre league. So they bailed on Ramirez, and before that Anibal Sanchez, and before that . . . well, the fan base. It was time, as the fishermen say, to cut bait.Which is fine, except that the new ballpark was supposed to aid with the teams ability to compete, and it hasnt. Because ballparks never aid in a teams ability to compete.You know what aids a teams ability to compete more than anything else? The desire to compete. Stadiums enhance an owners ability to absorb money, but it doesnt make a guy who doesnt want to try to win every year want to win every year.And the Marlins, who have a history of binge-and-purge as part of their organizational model, are merely ratcheting up the pace at which the cycle revolves.Now were not going to question whether the Marlins need to be dismantled. But we do
know it was a story they amused fans with while the ballpark was being publicly funded, and we knew it was one of the teams principal come-ons for ticket buying this year. Come see the new park that will fuel the teams re-rise to prominence. And its a story thats been told by many teams many times.Its a story the As like to tell when they start whingeing about their ballpark needs. And its, well, kind of a whopper.The fact is, the As win when they assemble young talent that convinces itself that that it does not have to act like the poor relation, that attitude and talent is better than bad attitude and talent, and way better than none of either.And the Giants arent really the template that disproves this theory, because the Giants had Barry Bonds, and three years of winning at their backs before they entered the new park. In fact, theirs is a unique story because while their ballpark gets the credit for 13
years of glory, the fact is that this team had Bonds and a grand supporting cast, reloaded, and is now a very good team again. Theyve had four losing seasons in 16 years because first and foremost theyve had players. They could have been the Marlins, but they had a good team in place, and then they reloaded that team.The ballpark was helpful, but the team created the ambience by producing results worth watching. Because they chose to compete, rather than let the ballpark do the work for them.Theres a lesson in this for the As, as they lament not getting their hands on Hanley Ramirez, and it is this. They should stop talking about the ballpark and how the one theyre in is an obstacle to glory and the one they want to build is their new raison detre. A new ballpark is a way to get rich, not a way to produce a superior ball team unless the ballteam is the primary focus at all times.In Miami . . . well, you get the picture. Its the one of Ramirez taking grounders at Busch Stadium wearing Dodger blue.Ray Ratto is a columnist for

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