Well, it took six days. But maybe that's to be expected, when a trade involves a dozen players and the baseball schedule isn't providing some time-sensitive imperative.
Six days after news broke about the Miami Marlins' fire sale and their corresponding 12-player trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, the deal has been approved by Commissioner Bud Selig and is official. Here's the first graf of Selig's three-graf statement, released Monday afternoon:
Since Tuesday, I have carefully reviewed the proposed transaction between the Miami Marlins and the Toronto Blue Jays. I asked our Baseball Operations Department and our Labor Relations Department to compare this proposed transaction with similar deals. I also consulted with experienced baseball operations executives to get their input regarding the talent involved in this transaction.
You got that? He carefully reviewed this transaction. Which makes me feel a whole lot better about it.
After a thorough examination of this information, it is my conclusion that this transaction, involving established Major Leaguers and highly regarded young players and prospects, represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both Clubs, does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion. It is, of course, up to the Clubs involved to make the case to their respective fans that this transaction makes sense and enhances the competitive position of each, now or in the future.
Oh, and the examination was thorough, too. Again, that's good to know.
Just to refresh your memory (because it has been six days, since all this reviewing and examining started), here's the deal:
Is that a fair exchange of talent? Probably not. Almost definitely not. Is that a fair exchange of value, considering the payroll obligations the Marlins are shedding? Well, who knows. But yeah, sure. The Marlins just got a lot younger and a lot cheaper, and those swaps often work out well enough in the long run. This trade does, as Selig's office suggests, represent "the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both Clubs".
Commissioner Bud probably should have stopped there. Because the rest of this memo might be at least semi-offensive to anyone who's been paying attention for, oh, these last few decades ...
I am sensitive to the concerns of the fans of Miami regarding this trade, and I understand the reactions I have heard since Tuesday. Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities and I fully understand that the Miami community has done its part to put the Marlins into a position to succeed with beautiful new Marlins Park. Going forward, I will continue to monitor this situation with the expectation that the Marlins will take into account the sentiments of their fans, who deserve the best efforts and considered judgment of their Club. I have received assurances from the ownership of the Marlins that they share these beliefs and are fully committed to build a long-term winning team that their fans can be proud of.
Okay, in the next memo I'd like to see a comprehensive list of Baseball's "important social responsibilities". I'm not saying that Baseball should have important responsibilities. But if the Commissioner believes it does, I would love to know what they are. Because apparently "not lying to the fans" isn't one of them.
What about "not using the franchise as a cash cow"? Is that one of them, too? Because it sure looks like the Miami Marlins are going to become a profitable franchise in the coming seasons, what with their new ballpark and a tiny payroll.
There are two significant issues here, neither of which the Commissioner, even after his careful reviewing and thorough examining, has yet addressed.
First, the Marlins organization has clearly abrogated the important social responsibility to treat the local citizens truthfully and respectfully. Both explicitly and implicitly, ownership promised the locals that if a new stadium was financed, the franchise would compete financially. That happened for exactly six months.
And second, the Commissioner doesn't seem to have weighed this deal's impact on the Marlins' long-term ability to thrive in its current market. While the talent/payroll swap might balance well enough, how do place a value on the damage done to the relationship between the Marlins and their fans (and potential fans)?
Alas, there probably wasn't anything that Commissioner Bud could have done to fix either of those things. The Marlins' lies to the public about the impact of a new ballpark were, of course, encouraged, by the Commissioner. It's an old song, and the Commissioner knows it well. And even if he'd somehow summoned the authority to overrule this trade, the damage had already been done; from the moment the deal was announced last week, the locals knew they'd been sold a bill of goods.
Commissioner Bud and his Band of Merry Henchmen made their first mistake when they allowed Jeffrey Loria to purchase the Montreal Expos. They made their second when they orchestrated the deal that gave John Henry the Red Sox, and Loria the Marlins. And now, with all those blessings already conferred, Loria can do just about whatever he likes. Important social responsibilities? Stop it. You're killing me.