Survey says: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria more popular than Fidel Castro — barely

David Brown
Big League Stew

Don't get most people in South Florida started on Fidel Castro, leader emeritus of Cuba. Polls show that Fidel  only has a 1 percent favorability rating in the Miami area, which of course has a large population of Cuban origin.

But truth be told, even 1 percent sounds high. Remember what happened when Ozzie Guillen, then-manager of the Miami Marlins, seemed to express respect for Castro during the season? He was figuratively killed in the court of public opinion and was forced to apologize, which Guillen loathes doing.

So, if Fidel is the most unpopular guy in town, who's No. 2? It's not Ozzie, who since has been fired. But close.

Try the owner of the Marlins, Jeffrey Loria, who only has a 6 percent favorability rating according to a poll published in the wake of the Miami's most recent fire sale. Results of the poll, conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International, were published in the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald on Sunday.

Trading the likes of star shortstop Jose Reyes, ace Josh Johnson and dependable lefty Mark Buehrle in an obvious salary dump less than a year after opening a ballpark funded mostly by taxpayer money does have a negative effect on perception.

Some poll specifics include these numbers from the 400 persons asked:

• 87 percent of Marlins fans feel "furious and betrayed'' by the team ownership.

• 83 percent of Marlins fans have an "unfavorable'' opinion of Loria.

• 61 percent of respondents identifying themselves as season ticket holders would support a boycott next season if that would force Loria to sell the team.

• 85 percent of Marlins fans feel the trade will benefit the Toronto Blue Jays more than the Marlins

• 95 percent think the trade was a "fire sale,'' while only 4 percent think the trade intended to make the team better.

• 89 percent feel Loria has a moral obligation to field a good team because the new $515 million stadium was built largely with public funds.

About 85 percent of the poll's respondents identified themselves as being from Miami-Dade County, where the new Marlins stadium was built. So, some of the rage can be explained with the stadium deal, coupled with the team's 69-93 record in 2012. But how Loria goes about his business must matter. Leading people to believe one thing about the Marlins — that they'd try harder to be competitive with a new stadium, and then going back on that promise within a year — is why folks are so harsh on Loria. Fans can accept losing if they see effort, if they see a plan to get better.

The Marlins make it obvious that they're in it only to get richer. It's kind of surprising the fans polled weren't even harder on them. Then again, the U.S. has had an embargo in place on Fidel's Cuba for 50 years. Give Loria more time. He'll get his favorables down to 1 or 2 percent.


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