#360USA: Maligned MLB franchise Miami Marlins are a laughing stock again

Steve Brenner 09:42 25/05/2015
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Key decisions at Miami Marlins are making headlines around the world.

There are some owners of sporting institutions who play it by the book, remain under the radar and make key decisions at the right time.

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Then there are guys like Miami Marlins supremo Jeffrey Loria. With the Marlins crawling out of the blocks this season, the New York art dealer turned baseball megalomaniac used an old trick which never fails to amuse the watching hordes. Loria, 74, got out his axe and sent the manager packing. 

This time the poor soul was Mike Redmond, a man who was handed a new deal last September. Clearly he was the correct choice then. Yet not now after the Marlins slumped to the unimpressive but hardly disastrous 16-22 record.

The Marlins are an average team with a few star turns like $325 million slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Their form so far is what many predicted.

Stanton would be right to query if Loria’s apparent vision was worth signing up for. This is the man who enraged the people of Miami by taking $200 million of taxpayers’ money to build a stadium which, for the most part, is never full.

Redmond, under contract until 2017, is now the third manager who is still on the payroll. Ozzie Guillen is owed $2.5 million from the final year of his deal (he spent just one season of a four-year term before being sacked in 2012) and now Dan Jennings will allegedly take the franchise forward.

Jennings has worked in the MLB since 1986 as a scout or front office worker. He has never played professional baseball and last coached at an Alabama high school in the mid 80’s.

After arriving in Miami in 2002, the 54 year-old initially occupied the vice president of player personnel role before eventually being upgraded to general manager two years ago. Now, suddenly, he’s the top dog.

Redmond couldn’t win with the players given to him by Jennings so the man himself will have a shot. It’s amateur hour every hour in Miami.

Jennings is now charged with massaging egos and gelling a team who may well go backwards. An amazing rise for someone who has never played at the top level.

It reeks of a ‘yes man’ scenario. The perfect foil for despot general Loria to bark out orders at the cohorts who help run his multi-million dollar play-thing.

Of course, everyone deserves their chance and good luck to Jennings. After his first five games ended in defeat, he will need it. Rival coaches however are not so sure.

“I think it’s frustrating in a way for guys who’ve done it. I’ve said this before, when you finish playing or get into Major League Baseball on the minor league level you say, ‘Ok, what do I want to do? Ok, I want to manage in the big leagues,” said Arizona Diamondbacks coach Chip Hale who helped extend Jennings’ winless start to his new job last week.

“What do I have to do? I’m going to go back, I’m going to bust my hump coaching and teaching and become the best manager at the minor league level that I can, then get to the big leagues, do your job coaching and hope to get an opportunity.”

Indeed, there have been a spate of managerial appointments recently which have raised a few eyebrows.

Craig Counsell in Milwaukee, Mike Matheny with the St. Louis Cardinals, Brad Ausmus of the Detroit Tigers and Walt Weiss in Colorado all have no experience of bossing a side. Yet they all enjoyed lengthy playing careers.

Imagine Real Madrid doing something similar and promoting someone who had no professional career of note. It’s beyond parody. That, though, is Loria.

Maybe it could become one of the most cunning and inspired plans of all time. Man management is key and Jennings knows the players well. But how does a top level sportsman relate to someone who has never been in the heat of the moment when the chips are down?

Loria was unhappy with the start to the season. Fine. He’s the boss and wanted an instant solution. Jennings is a money saving stop-gap and won’t be there are the start of the 2016 campaign.

Yet people are laughing at him and the Marlins once more. Jennings is the franchise’s sixth full-time manager since 2010. When will Loria learn?

Soccer

Was it a move of astonishing timing or PR driven coincidence? No sooner had AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini been announced as part of the new fangled NASL team Miami FC, David Beckham was suddenly edging closer to ending his quest to find a suitable stadium for his MLS franchise. Fancy that. 

Becks, who has toiled in his search so far, is looking at the possibility of teaming up with the University of Miami to help build a state of the art facility which would be used for college football as well as soccer.

Miami mayor Carlos Gimenez insists he likes the idea, mostly due to the fact that the University, which plays such an important role in the city’s finances and attractiveness, is to be involved.

There was no such fuss however with Miami FC though. They will kick a ball for the first time next year while using one of the city’s ‘existing world class facilities’.

How Beckham would love to be at that juncture.

NFL

The apology from Robert Kraft was always going to come but wouldn’t it have been nice if the Patriots owner had been honest from the start?

All that bluster post Super Bowl about Tom Brady and his ball deflating friends being totally innocent and how the NFL were making a huge mistake simply sounded totally wrong.

He was attempting to defend the indefensible – and it made him and the whole franchise look rather silly. Kraft doesn’t want to fall foul of commissioner Roger Goodell. Think about all the money he could lose out on if he fell out with the boss of everyone?

No, Kraft likes eating at the top table and will continue to do so. Some fans think he’s sold out. Yet they are blinded by loyalty. Finally in this sorry tale, someone has done the right thing.

It just would have been refreshing for him not to kick up such a stink in the first place.

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