No, the Marlins probably have not changed

BY foxsports • November 24, 2014

What do John Rocker and Jeff Loria have in common? Correct! They’re both human beings. Congrats, fella! You win a kewpie doll! But there’s even better news: You’re also entitled to a no-prize if you also noted that Rocker and Loria, as human beings, probably weren’t likely to change their behavior. Not dramatically, anyway.

In the New York Times last week, television critic Jon Caramanica led his story about some new reality shows with a bit about John Rocker ... which was odd, since Rocker was recently featured on the oldest reality show. The connection, however tenuous, is that Rocker was attempting to reinvent himself on Survivor, while these new shows were specifically about reinvention. And the connection is particularly tenuous because while Caramanica writes that Rocker “most likely” wanted “something of a fresh start, an opportunity to wash away the stains of his professional life and be reborn,” what seems most likely to me is that Rocker wanted to make some money, and actually revisit the fame of his professional life.

So how did all that go? Well, I don’t know about the money, but the modest fame didn’t last long:

As for Mr. Rocker, his tenure on “Survivor” was short and fraught. He was bitter to teammates and opponents alike. A few other contestants recognized him from the real world and began to poke at him about his past.

After one confrontation with a female member of the opposing team got particularly hot, Mr. Rocker coolly said, “If you were a man, I would knock your teeth out.” He was voted out shortly thereafter.

Stripped down to his essence, Mr. Rocker proved to be as bilious as ever. But at least he got what he wanted — everyone saw him for exactly who he was.

In other words, he was the same guy on "Survivor" as before. People don’t change. Not dramatically, anyway. Not often. Not often at all.

Also last week, there was some suggestion that Jeffrey Loria had changed. For a long time, we’d been told again and again by people in the know that Loria wouldn’t possibly come up with enough money to sign Giancarlo Stanton. Except last week he did. So Loria must have changed! Except Keith Olbermann's not buying it. At all:

Executive Summary: “This is just another Marlins scam.”

As Olbermann notes, the Marlins committed more than $312 million to four players, three years ago. Two years ago, all four of those players were gone, with someone else on the hook for the vast majority of that that money. And we’re likely to see roughly the same thing this time.

If you don’t believe Olbermann, maybe you’ll believe Joe Sheehan. From his (subscription-only) newsletter:

The narrative this week is about how this heralds a new day in Miami. Don't believe it. One look at the structure of the Stanton deal makes it clear that this is the 2012 signing spree all over again. Loria gets the press he wants and he gets the player for as long as the player is working for below-market wages. Once that changes, the player will be elsewhere. This isn't a 13-year contract and, as far as the Marlins are concerned, it's not a six-year one, either. It's business as usual.

Yes, the other guys didn’t have no-trade clauses and Stanton does. But as Sheehan notes, “NTCs are just negotiating hurdles.” If Loria’s not willing to spend what it takes to keep the Marlins’ other good young players, Stanton will probably welcome a trade ... especially if his new team tears up his contract, which seems massive but really just pays him Russell Martin money for six years, then Miguel Cabrera money for seven more. And there’s a pretty good chance that Stanton will, before too long, seem a lot better than Martin and Cabrera. Combined.

My hat’s off to Keith and Joe for noticing this. Initially, I didn’t. I was caught up in all the hubbub, too. I didn’t completely forget about Loria and his stripes, but I didn’t take a few minutes and really think about what he’s doing. Again. Loria just turned 74. He ain’t getting reborn. We know what he was, and almost surely still is.


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