The numbers are staggering. Jose Reyes, $106 million. Mark Buehrle, $58 million. Heath Bell, $27 million. A reported $10 million for manager Ozzie Guillen, who according to rough sabermetric consensus is worth, at most, an extra three wins a season. Oh, and don't forget a $200 million offer to Albert Pujols, the prize pony of this year's free agent class.
To say that the notoriously parsimonious Miami Marlins -- what if Scrooge McDuck owned a baseball team, and also fancied teal? -- are suddenly throwing around greenbacks like drunken sailors isn't just clichéd; it's an insult to Joseph Hazelwood. And also a bad analogy. Because frankly, the Marlins aren't spending like intoxicated swabbies with a few hours of shore leave. They're spending like perfectly sober investment bankers.
The former uses their money.
The latter uses yours.
And that's why it's time to Occupy the Marlins.
Following the financial meltdown of 2008, President Bush diagnosed the deus ex machina of the Great Recession like this: "Wall Street got drunk." He was wrong. Wall Street did not get drunk. Wall Street got over. Wall Street made billions underwriting crappy mortgagees, repackaging them as Triple-A investments and peddling them to naïve investors (read: your 401(k), state pension plans); made billions more placing side bets on and against the preceding criminal, but not technically criminal practice; made billions on top of that when the whole unsustainable shell game went belly up, thanks to a massive, unprecedented influx of taxpayer cash -- again: your money -- via TARP and the Federal Reserve's money-for-nothing "discount window," which in turn allowed financial houses to keep handing out the kind of outsized salaries and bonuses that had the encamped residents of Zuccotti Park so peeved.
Over in the sports world, the Marlins are running the same basic con.
"They're finally spending money? That's a misnomer," says Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for the League of Fans, a Washington, D.C.-based fan advocacy group affiliated with consumer advocate Ralph Nader. "To me, it's more like taxpayers have funded the entry fee into this high-priced fantasy league, and the Marlins are going off and buying players with our money. I think this will go down as the ultimate case of corporate sports welfare gone bad."
Sick of corporate bailouts? Occupy the Marlins....