Just as the Marlins were coasting enthusiastically through the offseason, wining and dining, and recently signing closer Heath Bell to a lucrative deal, they were dealt the usual blow when the US Securities & Exchanges Commission (SEC) opened a probe Friday investigating the controversial stadium deal green-lit by the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County. 

Usual you say? 

Why of course. The Marlins have gotten used to the highs and lows since their inception. They began as a thriving franchise with booming attendance numbers in 1993 but not even two seasons in and MLB grew dark as part of a players strike in 1994. This caused the attendance figures to never even come close to the over three million achieved during the inaugural season and with continuing mediocre play for these figures to get lower. 

Then a savior for the “Fighting Fish” was the 1997 season which saw the ballclub make strides and finally make it .500 and finally make it to the postseason. The end result was a World Series title after a pulse-pounding walk-off by Edgar Renteria in extra innings. The joy and spike in attendance was short-lived when the Marlins underwent a firesale in the offseason. 

The Marlins were left limping in standings the following seasons and bleeding fans as they pushed for some sort of hope for funding for a new ballpark. They were sold twice (by Wayne Huizenga in 1998 and again by John Henry in 2002) and hit a new low in 2002 when attendance was a mere 813,118 for the season. 

The Marlins finally breathed new life and got back on the saddle in 2003 when they won the World Series. But again failure to get a ballpark deal hurt them and caused a “Market Correction” in 2005. Just when it looked like the Marlins were going to relocate, they got hope of finally getting a ballpark in South Florida. 

After getting approved for a ballpark deal, former Philadelphia Eagles owner and local car dealer Norman Braman tries to stop it from getting built. Such fight by Braman caused the ballpark to ultimately delay its opening from 2011 to 2012. 

Just Another Usual Blow 

Now in 2011, the Marlins just fresh from formally transitioning from the Florida Marlins and making serious pushes for elite free agents are being sough after by federal authorities. 

According to The Miami Herald, the SEC is demanding financial documents dealing with the nearly $500 million in bond sales in addition to records of campaign contributions from the Marlins to local and state officials. 

Furthermore, the SEC is requesting that minutes of meetings between government officials, owner Jeffrey Loria, and Commissioner Bud Selig and the records of Marlins finances since 2007 be delivered by Jan. 6. 

While this looks like a blow to the Marlins plans in free agency, the ballclub came out with a statement today addressing the situation and how it affects their plans. 

From Joe Capozzi’s conversation with team VP PJ Loyello: “It will have no affect whatsoever on our roster plans,” said via text message by Loyello. 

From the Marlins themselves: “Yes, we are aware of the investigation that the SEC is conducting on the issuance of the county’s and city’s stadium and parking bonds. Of course we will fully cooperate with the SEC’s investigation as needed and assist in whatever way possible. Because this is an on-going matter, it is not appropriate to comment further.” 

Best and Worst Case Scenario 

At the moment, the Marlins say they are fully committed to staying the course and if they offer money the free agents will come because at the end of the day regardless of anything that happens down the road (from the teams standpoint) they are guaranteed of that salary. 

If this investigation turns sour for the Marlins, this could be a similar but yet different situation that soon to be former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt endured when dealing with finances of the team during a divorce with his wife, Jamie McCourt. 

Fans shouldn’t fear for another firesale because Major League Baseball will prevent it from happening by taking over operations like they did with the Los Angeles Dodgers

If Major League Baseball were to somehow ouster Jeffrey Loria in the wake of the investigation if it should come out that there were illegal doings, it can actually prove to be a good thing for some fans who just outright despise the owner for moves he has made (trading Miguel Cabrera and coming out with less than favorable logo and uniform schemes). 

If he should fail in his pursuit of the Dodgers, fans could see Mark Cuban throwing his hat in the ring for ownership of the Miami Marlins

Yes, its something fans would see as a savior for the franchise, put a fans’ owner in charge. However, first and foremost the best case scenario is that the investigation doesn’t derail the Miami Marlins goals and from the plan to finally be a competitive team every season.  

The last thing fans need is for this to have an effect on the teams performance on the field and for a scandal to be the headline for the Marlins with a brand new identity just establishing itself on the scene.  

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