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“A con job? I’m not even going to answer that,” he said.

Actually, con job might be an understatement. He convinced local businessmen and politicians not only to build him a new ballpark, but guarantee him almost every dime generated from it.

He took on payroll because it was part of the deal to get the ballpark, but backloaded the contracts so he didn’t risk much of his own money doing it.

Then he dumped the new players he signed before the year was over. True, they didn’t perform as expected, but the contracts were structured in a way that sure seemed suspicious.

Now Loria is raking in more money from MLB’s new television deals than he is paying players. He’s guaranteed tens of millions in profits even if his team doesn’t win 50 games. And if he’s not the most popular person in South Florida, well, so what.

Loria won’t even commit to signing the team’s only remaining star. Giancarlo Stanton isn’t eligible for arbitration, and Loria said he wants to see him play another year before deciding to pay him major money.

Apparently the 71 home runs Stanton hit during the last two years ago weren’t convincing enough.

Fans are reacting to all this the only way they know how _ by refusing to buy tickets to watch an inferior product. The pitch Loria made to get his new stadium was that baseball fans would come out in droves if they had a proper ballpark with a retractable roof. But the turnstile count last year was just 1.4 million, a million below expectations. This year will be even worse, with season ticket sales, so far, not even half the 12,000 sold for the inaugural season. Not even the lure of watching fish swimming in aquariums behind home plate seems to be helping.

One newspaper called Loria the most hated man in baseball, and with Frank McCourt no longer controlling the Dodgers and Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list, it’s hard to argue with that.

No, Loria may not yet be the worst owner ever. But give him time and he may get there.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg