The All-Star Game at Marlins Park is sneaking up fast now, with barely more than five weeks to go before the annual exhibition between National League and American League stars, plus the Home Run Derby and all the rest, brings baseball’s spotlight to Miami.
How sweet it would be to have a new ownership announcement for Jeffrey Loria’s franchise by then but I’m losing hope with each new headline on the topic.
Jeb Bush has dropped his name from the potential ownership group featuring Derek Jeter. That supposedly would breathe new life into the bid led by Tagg Romney, the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but his group reportedly is growing frustrated with the process and might step away.
Already a group led by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has come and gone as a potential Marlins buyer. Politics ultimately got in the way. Hey, it’s 2017. What else would get in the way?
So it would be a real surprise now to get this clog unstuck in time for the July 9 All-Star Legends & Celebrities Softball game, or the July 10 Home Run Derby or the July 11 All-Star game.
Major League Baseball has too much to study with the financials of the bidding groups, and Loria won’t rush through negotiations. There is a lot at stake for him here and, characteristically, he will want it all to go his way.
Makes you wonder what all was discussed before Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, then just three weeks into the job, announced that the Marlins would be All-Star hosts.
The bones of that deal surely were knitted together under former commissioner Bud Selig, who had a system of rewarding franchises with new stadiums to show off. Manfred surely is interested in a fresh start in Miami, for the good of baseball, for the good of the community’s trust in the game. If Loria gave any hints that he might be looking to sell soon, perhaps even making the 2017 All-Star game his final big moment as owner, that wouldn’t have hurt the bid and probably would have helped.
“It was time for baseball to recognized and pay back South Florida for what they did in building this stadium,” Manfred said on Feb. 13, 2016, the day MLB officially awarded the All-Star Game to Miami.
Fair enough, but when MLB took the 2000 All-Star Game away from Miami and awarded it to Atlanta instead, it was a punishment for the World Series fire sale of former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga and the ongoing uncertainty about the franchise’s future. South Florida fans were farther down the list of priorities.
Here is what Loria said on the day of the All-Star announcement more than two years ago. He patted himself on the back. He sold once more the idea that nobody understands his motivations or appreciates the sacrifices he makes.
“It’s baseball’s recognition that you’re doing good things,” Loria said. “They awarded it to us. We didn’t go and buy it.
“You don’t get to the top unless you have ups and downs. You have to take the criticism and take the good with the bad. I’m still here, and I’m still here, and I’m still here because I believed in what we were doing along the way. We changed a lot of things. I took a lot of criticism for what I called pushing the reset button, but if I didn’t push that damn reset button, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Well, I’m still here believing that Loria will pass on his team to another owner at a huge profit when he is good and ready. The change won’t be as easy as everyone wants it to be, and it won’t be swift.
Meanwhile, let the criticism come. Loria has something that other people want. It’s a heady feeling, and one that will only grow stronger in the weeks growing up to the All-Star Game.
It’s sneaking up fast now, and the notion of some new owner taking the bows during All-Star weekend just doesn’t seem to be in the cards any more.