Volume 92, Issue 3

Friday, May 29, 1998

big business


It's tee time: Florida snow bird revolt in the making

The riots in Indonesia over political unrest have filled North American newscasts over the last couple of weeks but it appears the United States may have to turn their attention to possible riots in an area a little closer to home in the not so distant future – Florida.

The reason – Dave Dombrowski.

A week and a half ago Florida Marlin general manager Dombrowski made a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in a Florida cash-cutting garage sale fashion, to reduce the team's payroll. The Marlins dealt all-stars Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla and Charles Johnson as well as Jim Eisenreich and rookie Manuel Barrios. In exchange for this quintuplet of prized athletes the Los Angeles Dodgers shipped superstar catcher Mike Piazza and third baseman Todd Zeile to the Marlins.

The deal, which according to reports had cut the Marlins payroll by $11 million, was only the beginning for president Don Smiley, who plans to buy the team from current owner and Blockbuster Video head honcho, Wayne Huizenga. Smiley is looking to pare the payroll down another $8 million before next year, from the current $24 million. How can you possibly do that, one may ask. Trade Piazza of course.

The deal as it stood was not all that lop-sided. Although not a hall of famer, Zeile is a threat and has shown remarkable consistency over an eight-year career which had found him in St. Louis before spending his most recent years in L.A.. And anybody who knows anything about baseball, knows about Piazza.

A perennial all-star, Piazza has put up incredible MVP numbers in each of his big league seasons.

Too bad Florida didn't even give him a chance for a glass of their world famous O.J.. With all of this movement to save money one has to wonder how much longer the Florida faithful can remain a committed organization. Lately they seem to simply be running a five and dime shop.

The problem was apparent early when just after the first deal, Piazza was being discussed in trade rumours. The worst part of the situation was that Dombrowski had already said the best case senario was that Piazza would remain a Marlin for the remainder of the current season.

What type of commitment from a team management is that? Look out Mickey and Minnie, paradise is not safe.

It took little time but low and behold Piazza is now a New York Met. As of last Friday Piazza switched clubs again.

Which Marlin wise guy gave this Dombrowski quack a job after his years of dismantling in Montreal?

Not long ago the Marlins were a contender in the October Classic. Too bad they have decided to find out how little money can be spent and still be recognized as a major league team.

The best and only solution to this problem is to set up a committee to disallow any deal that appears to have the obvious label of barn selling. Major League Baseball must do something to insure that a team cannot simply be destroyed for the sake of business. It does not make sense that the Marlins are in such sad financial shape in comparison to the rest of the league.

Florida ownership better get themselves set for the revolt by fans and not just a ticket selling decrease. Marlin owners and management better hope that El Nino keeps the weather warm in Florida for a while since it won't be long before they find themselves without shirts.

The worst part of this whole situation is that the people who will lead the attack on Florida and its tight-assed ball team are trained professionals. Where else can you find so many people who spent the majority of their young adult lives during the prime protest and riot period of this century – the 1960s? If something isn't done by Marlin big wigs, the golf-crazed grey hairs in Florida are sure to be out for blood. Tee off time – NOW.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998