SI Hacks Continue to Push Loria Urban Legend

I’ve always thought that Jeffrey Loria‘s bad reputation in the media was highlight exaggerated. Therefore, I’m not surprised to read that Sports Illustrated just named him as one of the 5 worst owners in MLB. Here is what they had to say:

Despite the best efforts of another crop of youngsters, Loria may be running a second franchise into the ground. The art dealer turned a nation of fans against him with his first team, the Expos, before forcing their move from Montreal and selling them back to Major League Baseball. He then took control of the Marlins and watched his exciting team shock the Yankees in the 2003 World Series and then became Miami fans’ worst nightmare: the second coming of Wayne Huizenga. The Marlins slowly have been rebuilding themselves with more young talent, despite the lowest cash outlay provided by any owner, and could be turning a corner soon. That is, until Hanley Ramírez and Dan Uggla are shown the door like Josh Beckett, Derrek Lee and Miguel Cabrera.

=It is clear that the SI team just phoned this one in. After all why do any research and thinking when you have this urban legend about Mr. Loria. While he didn’t make the best moves in Montreal, he was, in the end, nothing more than a caretaker for a dying franchise. His time with the Marlins has been a mix — a couple of fire sales on one hand, but a championship and a new ballpark on the other. We can debate his decision to keep a low payroll for most of his tenure but it is the results on the field and talent today that matter. Despite not being a serious contender since winning it all in 2003, the team still outperforms many MLB teams over this period.

Today, the Fish are looking at a new ballpark which secures their existence in South Florida for the long run. Hanley Ramirez is locked up for the next 6-years of his potential Hall of Fame career. Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill continue to run and excellent front office which has built a nice core of young players that allows the Fish to compete. Yes, we will miss Josh Beckett, Derrek Lee and Miguel Cabrera but no team (other than the Yankees, perhaps) could have kept all these guys. In fact, in baseball, you can be good one day and terrible the other. See Dontrelle Willis. And SI, since you liked ripping Dan Uggla for his All-Star errors, but now elevate him to a star, I will point out his sub .200 average today.

I’m not elevating Mr. Loria on a pedestal. He, like every MLB owner, has made mistakes and clearly he hasn’t spent as much money as everyone would like him to spend. But his performance as the owner of the Marlins has been a successful one. He has a championship, a great front office, a new ballpark and talent for the future. It’s something very few teams have today.

Loria Speaks… We Listen

Marlins owner Jeffery Loria was acessible to the media yesterday which meant we the fans get some more insight into what’s going on with our beloved team. I think many people spend far too much time speculating about what Loria is doing and often they are wrong.

Talking about his current roster and future payroll plans, Loria said:

“I’m not asking for patience,” Loria said before the Marlins’ season-opening 7-2 loss to Johan Santana and the New York Mets. “I’m asking people to realize we’re doing it the right way.

“We know how to build a championship team here. We’ve already done it once. When the stadium opens, we’ll be able to do the things we want to do.”

It’s clear they are following their plan of building with young talent but the main concern from fans is whether they will recycle these guys before they win again. To that, Loria responded:

“There are a lot of guys we’re going to keep,” he says, although he doesn’t say which ones.

“It’s OK to fall in love with these players,” he says, adding that this is “the most intriguing team” he’s ever been around.

We can interpret that to mean many things but in general you have to be optimistic when he encourages us “to fall in love” again.

As for the ballpark we learn that Loria, an internationally renown art dealer, is very hands on:

Loria finds himself drawing upon those early lessons more than ever as he increasingly turns his attention to planning every last intricacy of the Marlins’ future home. He spends hours each week on the phone to Kansas City, where a team of architects at the legendary HOK firm is working steadily to prepare the first set of renderings.

They aren’t expected for perhaps another year, but already certain hints are emerging.

The new park will give pitchers every chance to succeed when it opens in 2011, per the Marlins’ philosophy. But considering the day job of the club owner — international art dealer — it has the potential to be so much more than just another brick-lined playpen for millionaires.

Loria doesn’t sound interested in building yet another throwback yard.

“We’re not looking at retro,” he said. “We’d like to see a contemporary building … realizing that we’re in Florida.”

I already know that some people will complain about this. The fact is, the ballpark is located in the middle of a neighborhood without any strong architectural characteristics. Retro ballparks are great, but they’re also becoming more and more repetitive and stale. The jewels of the retro movements — Camden Yards and AT&T Park, were built sometime ago and both leverage their surroundings (the warehouse, McCovy Cove) to bring in a special feeling. Closed roof retro stadiums look like fake big airplane hangers.

The trend to modern styling, apparent in many of the new projects in Miami, is a trend around the world. Just look at Allianz Arena in Munich or the Beijing National Stadium for the latest inspiration in modern stadium design. In the end, we are better off with something that looks like the picture above then another Turner Field.