It brings no pleasure to correspond under these circumstances, but in light of what the owner of your franchise wrote to you this weekend, it seems like there is little choice. Our hearts go out to all of you and your families. Best wishes to all the players and coaching staff in the coming season as well. We hope that by sharing some of our side of the story, perhaps the healing process can begin.
It is not a secret that your owner and the powers that be in MLB have had an inappropriate relationship with our fair city for a long time. Baseball fans in this area have been treated like a cheap booty call and an easy mark. The suits have engaged in an unsavory habit of making empty statements about our chances to land a ballclub with a total disregard for our feelings. It has gone on for decades.
Whenever there was difficulty in a marriage with another metropolis, the usual suspects would show up at all hours with a bouquet of gas station roses and cheap red wine. In the past, we've let Jeffrey Loria and others play us like a fiddle and prey on the insecurities of our politicians. The insincere compliments and half-hearted flirting made this bedrock Pacific Coast League town with a rich baseball history feel something akin to attractive and important. We were taken for fools.
Well, that is simply not acceptable anymore. Now that things are going poorly in Miami, we would like your owner to rethink any future overtures to our town. In fact, we would very much like it if everyone involved with the Marlins franchise simply stayed away. It will be awkward if we have to get a restraining order.
It is true that Jeffrey Loria could not possibly be the most despicable person ever involved with baseball in Portland. We are pretty sure that title will always belong to the man who once said that "women are a lot like dogs" and did unspeakable things to young ladies on videotape while ranting on and on about Adolf Hitler.
It would also be hard to accuse Jeffrey Loria of being the most underhanded person involved in athletics in our state. Some might argue that one of our universities is essentially run by a shoe mogul. Recently, lawmakers in Salem used the fog surrounding a horrific shooting at a local mall to ramrod a "sweetheart deal" for the shoe mogul that shifted a growing portion of his future tax burden to the citizens of Oregon for the next 30 years.
While schools closed, park programs were cut and a growing number of kids faced poverty, this community paid over $70 million to rebuild the same sports facility twice in a decade. In the not so distant past, we supported and helped launch the careers of an ice skating thug and a race baiting sportscaster. No, Loria wouldn't be the worst excuse for a human being in sports around this neck of the woods. The all-time rosters have set unbreakable marks. The competition is far too fierce.
With all that said, we think Mr. Loria and Mr. Samson should explain a few things to you wonderful fans in Miami. Before you put them on the hot seat, maybe we ought to refresh their memories with a handful of highlights from the past few years of our lengthy affair:
February 24, 2006: The Florida Marlins announced new contracts for ten players including Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla. All were signed for the major league minimum of $327,000. Maria Cantwell received $1,000 from Marlins President David Samson for her reelection campaign. A lifelong baseball fan, Senator Cantwell of Washington has a very good relationship with the Seattle Mariners. With Safeco Field less than 175 miles from downtown Portland, territorial issues would have been an important part of any potential deal. Senator Cantwell could have been a valuable teammate in negotiating a move of the Marlins to Portland.
August 7, 2007: Mauro Zárate made his major league debut and became the fourth player in Florida Marlins history with a "Z" last name. Marlins President David Samson sent $2,000 to Oregon's former junior senator, Gordon Smith for his reelection campaign. The frozen food magnate is a professed baseball fan who advocated publicly for moving a franchise to the area. He could have teamed up with his colleague from Washington to help bring the Marlins to Portland during his time in Congress. It never came to fruition.
July 18, 2009: The Philadelphia Phillies led the Florida Marlins 2-0, but the game was rained out in the second inning. Ground was broken on a brand new $515 million stadium for the Miami Marlins. "Thousands of fans were booing" during the ceremony. Some of the funding for the facility was secured when 1,700 county employees were laid-off in the week prior to the groundbreaking.
February 13, 2010: The Florida Marlins hosted the 15th Annual Fan Fest. It looks like Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria celebrated his big day with the Miami faithful by filing a $50,000 campaign contribution in Salem, Oregon. Loria soon doubled down this bet on former NBA backup and then candidate for Oregon governor, Chris Dudley.
August 23, 2010: Popular Florida outfielder Cody Ross was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants. Documents showing that the Florida Marlins lied about their financial status surfaced on Deadspin. By not seeing these figures before approving a stadium, Miami-Dade County was apparently swindled out of over a billion dollars.
October 4, 2010: It was one day after the Florida Marlins schedule closed on a win. Dan Uggla had finished 3 for 3 with a home run. With the past season of baseball fresh in his mind, it seems a cruel coincidence that the last half of Jeffrey Loria's $100,000 contribution to the Chris Dudley campaign was filed with the Secretary of State's office in Salem. Even though it had been over a year since the ground was broken on a new facility, it seemed like the Marlins were still trying to buy their way into Oregon politics.
October 15, 2010: Lines formed as Miami residents signed a petition to recall Mayor Carlos Alvarez for raising taxes largely to pay for a stadium the region could not afford. Ballots were mailed out to Oregon residents for the upcoming election. As the race for governor entered the home stretch, backup center Chris Dudley was in a hotly contested battle with Dr. John Kitzhaber. Contributions to the Dudley campaign cost double what the Florida Marlins saved by dismissing John Routh, the original Billy the Marlin.
Why does your unfaithful owner and his sidekick keep texting us lurid things after you fall asleep? Well, the answer dates back to the days when Jeffrey Loria left the Montreal Expos in ruin. In 2003, the year your hometown ballclub won the World Series, our gullible legislature decided that a pig in a poke was better than no pig at all. So, they voted to start a contest for relocating MLB teams with a whopping $150,000,000 grand prize to give away. Neither MLB nor the Expos ever seriously considered Portland as a viable option, but knowing the ORS 184.400 to 184.408 money is still on the table keeps the men who run your baseball team interested in our town.
Moving the Marlins to Portland would drain our state of scant financial resources in much the same way it has devastated your communities. We know how hard it is for you to keep supporting a team with so little to lose and everything to gain. All we ask is that you keep these men away from us. While there are a few stubborn magical thinkers among the ranks, realistic fans have moved on from believing there is any future with MLB, and specifically, the Marlins. We are dedicated to other big league teams and we are happy. Minor league ball is returning to the area too. The game feels beautiful to us once more. We sincerely hope that baseball brings you joy again someday soon. It hurts us to see them treat you with such disdain and cruelty.