Update: Petition asking Obama to force sale of Marlins taken down

Marlins president David Samson (left) and owner Jeff Loria. (US Presswire)

Update: The petition has been removed from the WhiteHouse.gov site "because it is in violation of (the) Terms of Participation." A valiant effort, but no dice.

Marlins owner Jeff Loria is not exactly a popular man these days. His club just completed its latest offseason fire sale, less than a year after the team's brand-new (and taxpayer-funded) ballpark opened its doors. Players like Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle -- Miami's three big free-agent signings of last winter -- have been shipped elsewhere, and payroll was slashed drastically. The criticism of Loria has been harsh, to say the least.

Tired of seeing its team gutted every few years, a group of Marlins faithful has decided to exercise First Amendment rights and is petitioning President Obama to force Loria to sell the team. The petition, which was officially created on Tuesday, can be found at WhiteHouse.gov, and reads ...

Please help force Marlins owner Jeff Loria to sell the team. He has lied to the people of Miami to get tax funded dollars to build a stadium and promised to put a team on the field with a payroll avg. The Payroll for the Marlins is about 35 million when it was around 90 last year. He has traded every player away with a high salary after just signing to long term deals last off season.

According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Marlins have about $37.3 million in payroll obligation for 2013 after opening last season with a payroll just north of $100 million. The contracts for Reyes and Buehrle in particular were significantly backloaded, as the duo earned just $16 million combined in 2012. That will jump to $20 million in 2013 and $34 million in 2014. Carlos Delgado's four-year contract with the Marlins was similarily backloaded when he signed with the team in 2005, and he was also traded after year one.

The petition requires 100,000 signatures by Feb. 21 to elicit an official response from the White House, but of course the constitutionality of the President ordering Loria to sell his team is another matter entirely. As of this writing, though, the petition had only 30 supporters. Not 30,000, just 30. It's an uphill climb, obviously, but I guess we should never underestimate the power of a determined fan base. For what it's worth, Loria has insisted he has no plans to sell the team.

(h/t NBC Miami)

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