Why Baseball (and Hanley Ramirez) has not worked in Miami
In the words of Dan LeBatards dad, affectionately known to the masses as Papi, "Aye the Marlins!" As many of you are aware by now, The Miami Marlins have traded All Star infielder Hanley Ramirez along with reliever Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers for starter Nate Eovaldi and a minor leaguer. This is the second multi-player trade the team has made in the last 2 days as they packed starter Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to Detroit for three prospects and a draft pick. It is only the beginning of yet another fire sale that Marlins fans are far too used too as the ownership is dropping the proverbial white flag on the season. There has been rumors floating around locally here in Miami that starter Josh Johnson, infielder Jose Reyes, first baseman Carlos Lee and closer Heath Bell may be also on the trading block. I've lived in Miami for six years now and the way this team operates is beyond perplexing. I will give you a list of reasons and perspective why baseball simply has not worked in Miami.
Ownership. For me, it starts at the very top with team owner Jeffrey Loria, team president David Samson, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill. This front office has never, ever (Chris Jericho reference) had the trust of the fanbase. This goes back to when they dismantled a very young and talented team following their 2003 World Series championship team. Back then they let go the likes of Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, AJ Burnett & Derrek Lee. It goes back even further when Wayne Huizenga was the owner. He dismantled and sold the team after winning a World Championship back in 1997. Also more recently the trades for Miguel Cabrera and Dan Uggla which saw this team get back absolutely nothing in return for. The fan base or what little fan base this city has left demands and deserves a front office and ownership group that they can believe in to make Miami a relevant baseball city which, as of right now is considered a joke. And don't get me and the taxpaying citizens of Miami-Dade county started on the stadium issue which I will touch on later.
Hanley Ramirez. What else can be said about a guy who has gone from a top 10 player in the league with an MVP type season less than 3 years ago to a guy whose batting average is 60 points less than his career average. One word...attitude, and a poor one at best. Just ask his former managers Fredi Gonzalez, Edwin Rodriguez and current manager Ozzie Guillen. Ask former teammate Dan Uggla and current teammate Logan Morrison. Ask Hall of Famer Andre Dawson who tried to talk some sense into this kid. His attitude and approach to the game is piss poor and Hanley has been called out numerous times by all the people just mentioned. When Fredi Gonzalez was manager of the Marlins, there was an infamous play a couple of years ago where Ramirez accidentally kicked a ball into the outfield and failed to hustle after the ball. Gonzalez removed Ramirez at the end of that inning and was called out by his teammates for dogging it. The situation got even worse when it was reported he didn't even apologize to his manager or his teammates and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson sat him down in a room and told him to shut up and listen. Hanley never got the message. There was a incident where former teammate Dan Uggla called out Hanley for removing himself from a game where Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson was dominating. Hanley claimed he had a hamstring issue but it was widely believed by Uggla and the rest of his teammates that he took himself out to win the batting race which he eventually won that year. Then there is the most recent incident where Hanley lost his cool in the dugout and punched a cooling fan in the middle of a game and winded up slicing his knuckle forcing his removal from the game. The Marlins management and ownership finally had enough and do you blame them? In 2009, they gave him a 6 year, 90 million dollar contract which he has not lived up to since winning the batting title that year. This past off season, the team ownership spent close to 200 million to surround him with talent and didn't get results from Hanley of any of the free agents they've signed. Simply put, It was time for the team and Hanley to go in a different direction and I don't blame them. Enough of these primadonna players who don't live up to their fat contracts and don't give effort who disrespect the game.
Underachieving Talent. The Marlins tried their best this past off season to put a competitive team on the field this season but has not worked out. Closer Heath Bell had so many blown saves that he had the closer position taken away from him. Shortstop Jose Reyes is not playing up to his career averages. Starter Mark Buerhle who has pitched well enough to keep this team in games but does not get any run support because the team can't score him any runs. First Baseman Gaby Sanchez who was an All Star last season but has not hit since the All Star break last year and into this season which caused the team to trade for Carlos Lee. There is more I have not mentioned but it gives you an idea of the guys they were hoping to help them compete in the NL East but have not worked out. Now there is a fire sale for all these guys and your favorite team can probably have them all, discounted for a few minor leaguers. Just asked the Detroit Tigers. They love doing business with these Marlins.
The Stadium. Oh yes, last but not least the stadium. I made a visit to the Marlins new stadium last month and it is OK at best compared to other newer stadiums considering its Miami where it is humid and rains way too often in the summer. There was a need for this stadium from where the team used to play at Dolphin Stadium where there was numerous rain outs and bad sight lines that were way too far away from the field due to the football dimensions. But ask anyone who lives in Miami-Dade county about how this stadium was funded and you'll be met with disgust. Back in the 2009-10 off season, the Marlins claimed they were not breaking even on operating revenues to city and county commissioners and asked for public funding for the stadium. However the team never opened their books and somehow got the city and county commissioners to pass the cost of the stadium, 500 million of the 634 million it cost to build to the taxpayers. Somehow the Marlins were only on the hook for 125 million of the 634 million it cost to build the stadium. Matters were made even worse when the Marlins financial records were leaked on deadspin.com showing they made money which infuriated Miami citizens even more. Even with this new stadium in town, the Marlins rank 12th out of 16th National League teams in attendance.
Final Analysis. This team needs a fresh start come next year. Starting with the front office people in charge of baseball operations. Jeffrey Loria, the owner, needs new personnel running this ball club going forward because the people he has had running it for the last couple of years have not been getting the job done. When you trade All-Star talent away and get nothing in return for it, you will have a fanbase that will turn its back on you because it simply has no faith in its team and the people in charge.
Follow me on Twitter @BronxCobra51.