So there were some rumors about this Tuesday, but now Jeff Passan's got the whole sordid story:
Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria personally mandated the lineup card change that flip-flopped starting pitchers Jose Fernandez and Ricky Nolasco in a doubleheader Tuesday and left Marlins players furious with his continued meddling, three sources with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo! Sports.
Loria insisted Fernandez, the team's prized 20-year-old rookie, pitch in the first half of the doubleheader at frigid Target Field instead of the scheduled Nolasco because the day game was expected to be warmer. The temperature at Fernandez's first pitch (38 degrees) was actually colder than at the beginning of Nolasco's start (42 degrees).
Rookie manager Mike Redmond delivered the news to Nolasco about 2½ hours before the first game against the Minnesota Twins, and it did not go over well with him or his teammates. Standard protocol for doubleheaders is that veterans choose which game they want to pitch. Not only did Loria ignore that and further alienate Nolasco, the Marlins' highest-paid player who has previously requested a trade, he sabotaged Redmond less than 20 games into his managerial career.
It's very difficult to rank baseball's worst owners of, say, the last 50 years. Charlie Finley? Sure, but there's the pesky matter of those three straight World Championships. George Steinbrenner? Ditto, with more championships. Frank McCourt was pretty terrible, although a) he wound up doing pretty well, and b) whatever damage he inflicted on his franchise disappeared almost immediately upon his departure.
If there's one thing we know about owners, it's that they can do all sorts of terrible things and still win, given enough talent. We also know that players who hate their owners can still play exceptionally well; or at the least, we saw numerous examples in the 1970s. Maybe things are different now, with the rise of the Players' Association.
But of course, if a player wants out, playing well might be the best thing he can do; it's certainly the most profitable, in the long term anyway, and he'll also be more attractive to teams looking to make a trade.
Still, it's one thing to suggest what can happen and quite another to suggest what will happen. We might assume that team chemistry and leadership matters, but that's always more obvious in retrospect.
The on-the-field performance of the Miami Marlins might be a secondary consideration here, though. I suspect that a number of Jeffrey Loria's fellow owners would like to see him disappear because he's embarrassing. It's one thing to pillage municipal and state coffers while reaping huge financial profits and losing every year; hell, lots of owners do that. But Loria's doing those things and being really obvious about it. Basically, McCourt and now Loria realized that you can do just about anything you want and stain the reputations of your organization and Baseball generally, and still you'll wind up clearing MASSIVE PROFITS.
If the Universe were a just place, McCourt and Loria would exit the stage both humiliated and destitute. But the Universe, or at least our little corner of it, doesn't work that way. Frank McCourt exits a billionaire, and Loria will spend the rest of his days flitting between various mansions.
Baseball-wise, the best outcome for South Florida baseball fans (and anyone who happens to be stuck managing, or playing for, the Marlins) is that someone makes Loria an offer that he simply can't refuse. It seems unlikely to me that Loria will still own the Marlins at the end of this decade. But for anyone who cares, it's going to be a long few years.