The biggest challenge of the upcoming baseball season may be the one facing JeffreyGroup, the marketing and communications agency hired this week to help repair the Miami Marlins’ tattered image.
“We plan to help the team communicate effectively with each of its key stakeholders, including media, community leaders, partners and, most importantly, loyal fans,” said Mike Valdes-Fauli, President of JeffreyGroup.
A last-place finish amid considerable turmoil in the Miami Marlins first season in their new downtown ballpark has cost manager Ozzie Guillen his job.
The Miami Marlins announced Tuesday that they have dismissed Guillen. The announcement was made by Marlins' President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest.
“After careful consideration following the disappointment of the 2012 season, we decided to dismiss Ozzie,” said Beinfest. “Our managerial search begins immediately and our hope is that a new manager, along with roster improvements, will restore a winning culture.”
The Marlins went 69-93 in 2012, finishing last in the NL East.
Curiously, the manager that owner Jeffrey Loria traded two prospects to get just over a year ago and the closer he rushed to overpay and sign, Heath Bell, have been discarded within the past few days.
Guillen still has three years remaining on his contract worth $7.5 million. That may be easier to swallow after getting the Diamondbacks to take Bell and all but $8 million of the $21 million left on his deal.
The Marlins have now been through seven managers (including Jack McKeon twice) in the 11 years of Loria's ownership. He has fired four of them.
The Marlins have put away their bats and gloves until spring, but the beat goes on at the Clevelander at Marlins Park. The South Beach club behind the left-field fence will host football watch parties on Sundays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., throughout the NFL season.
There is no cover charge and parking is free in the Third Base Garage. A variety of games will be on television, the pool will be open and there will be DJs, dancers and the usual hijinks that made the Clevelander a hit during the baseball season.
Adam Greenberg will finally get his major league at-bat.
The Marlins announced Thursday that they have signed the former prospect to a one-day contract so he can bat in Tuesday’s game against the Mets at Marlins Park.
Greenberg, 31, made his major league debut on July 9, 2005 with the Cubs vs. the Marlins but was hit in the back of his head by a pitch from Valerio De Los Santos in his only plate appearance. He never made it back to the majors, though he recently played for Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifying rounds, walking in his only plate appearance.
The trek of Tropical Storm Isaac through the Caribbean had officials at Marlins Park in hurricane preparation mode for the first time Thursday.
A change in the direction and intensity of the storm that elevates the threat to South Florida could have work underway to clamp down the retractable roof as soon as Saturday night, said Claude Delorme, Marlins chief of ballpark operations.
It takes about 16 hours to secure the roof, which is rated to withstand winds up to 146 mph.
“There is sensitivity as to when we do it because we don’t want to do it too early if the winds are not elevated, because we have to protect the field as well. If you close the field for three days the grass is going to be damaged as a result,” Delorme said. “Our objective would be to do it as late as possible. That would be Sunday at the latest, if the storm picks up in intensity.”
Preview of Wednesday's episode of The Franchise as the Marlins part with their cornerstone player.
Cameras were with the front office throughout the night as the trade was completed, then in the clubhouse the following morning to document player reactions and Ramirez’s final minutes with the Marlins before heading to Los Angeles.
The newest ballpark in the major leagues will share a tasty link to the oldest – link being the operative word. Kayem Foods, a tube-steak staple in New England since 1909 and the producer of the iconic Fenway Frank at Boston’s Fenway Park since 2009, is now the official hotdog and sausage provider at Marlins Park.
Kayem has been striving to become top dog in Florida in recent years via sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Lightning, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Florida State Seminoles.
They are featured in the Red Sox spring home in Fort Myers, and now at Marlins Park just in time for a June series with the Sox. Kayem hot dogs are all-beef and noted for a bold taste from a proprietary blend of spices.
MIAMI The Marlins’ new ballpark was designed not only to sustain the franchise under a retractable roof in Little Havana but the environment as well.
Those efforts paid off in Marlins Park being recognized as the world’s “greenest” stadium with a retractable roof, as well as the most environmentally sustainable park in Major League Baseball. It is the first in each case to receive LEED gold certification under the rating system for new construction.
“Achieving LEED Gold is an extraordinary accomplishment,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president of the U.S. Green Cuilding Council, who presented the certificate Friday. “This is not a trophy. I like to think of this as the organization has earned its PhD.”
Notably, the ballpark achieved a 22.4-percent reduction in energy use when compared to similar projects, and will reduce water use by 52 percent.
MIAMI Not only have the Marlins hit a rough patch on the field, so has their field.
Brown patches of grass were scattered throughout the playing surface at Marlins Park during the last homestand.
“I would say that the sod had as difficult an April as the team did,” Marlins President David Samson said after the Marlins lost three of four to the Diamondbacks and ended the opening month of the season 8-14.
The Marlins are considering bringing in grow lamps with the field getting less sunlight than anticipated.
Traffic and parking around Marlins Park is proving less of an issue than generally forecast. But the trip to Little Havana is daunting to some in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
One option gaining traction is to leave the driving to Ballgame Express. The upstart bus service is offering round-trip transportation to the ballpark from World of Beer and Hooters locations in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
The ride costs $30, and game tickets can also be purchased, depending on availability. For pricing and schedule, visit BallgameExpress.com.
MIAMI The mood on the west plaza outside Marlins Park was festive rather than fiery Tuesday as manager Ozzie Guillen returned from suspension for remarks that offended many in the Cuban-American community.
A merengue band played in honor of Dominican Heritage Night. Here and there couples stopped to dance on their way into the ballpark.
The only hint of dissent was from Jay Fernandez, of Kendall, standing casually and alone on the corner across 16th Avenue. His protest sign rested against a bench, facing away so it could not be read.
The concealed message was: “No Apologies Fire Him Now.”
This is the trailer for the preview of “The Franchise: A Season With the Miami Marlins” that will air Saturday at 9 p.m. on Showtime.
The 2-minute, 48-minute clip includes footage of Marlins President David Samson informing manger Ozzie Guillen of his five-game suspension due to his comments about Fidel Castro.
The second season of the Showtime reality series will debut with a one-hour episode July 11, the night after the All-Star Game. Regular half-hour episodes will follow on Wednesday night’s during an eight-week season.
The $155,000 in donations the Marlins presented to three charities at Marlins Park last weekend well before manager Ozzie Guillen’s infamous “I love Castro” remark upset many of their new neighbors.
With their move to Miami, the Marlins have been reaching out to various organizations in Miami-Dade County through their Marlins Foundation. Contributions presented during the team’s first homestand to Shake-A-Leg Miami, Miracle League of Miami Dade and the Jackie Robinson Foundation were part of an ongoing outreach program that also operated when the team played at Sun Life Stadium as the Florida Marlins.
Guillen’s comments couldn’t have been more ill-advised for a franchise trying to establish itself in an area known as Little Havana. But some groups in the Cuban community will benefit.
Reacting to concerns about inadequate parking, the Marlins have identifed about 3,000 parking spaces in lots near Marlins Park.
Space in the garages adjacent to the park are sold out for the exhibitions games against the Yankees on Sunday and Monday, as well as for Wedneday’s regular-season opener. Anyone without a prepaid pass will have to look elsewhere.
The off-site spaces are in 14 lots. Eleven are within a mile of the ballpark, with those more distant offering shuttle service.
The Marlins’ Jose Reyes is among 15 of baseball’s top stars featured in “Sports Illustrated Kids’ Pro Files: Baseball.”
The 96-page hardcover book is intended to introduce readers age 8-12 to some of baseball’s top players and provide tips on how to play like them. It went on sale earlier this month for $17.95, but was available at Amazon.com for $12.92.
Reyes, the Marlins’ shortstop, discusses his routine to prepare for each game, including massage, stretching and work in the batting cages. He also reveals his nickname: La Melaza, sweetness in Spanish. Readers also learn of his affinity for fried chicken and beans, and that the athlete he most admired as a kid was Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal.
Boston Marathon director Dave McGillivray, Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest and Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine are among 17 runners so far confirmed to join Marlins President David Samson on his 50-mile charity “Run to Honor the Workers” on April 27.
Samson will run 50 miles to raise funds in honor of the construction workers who made Marlins Park a reality. All of the proceeds raised will be donated to the 10 Charities of Choice. To date, the run has raised more than $500,000 through sponsor and individual donations.
The run will start at Atlantic Avenue and AIA in Pompano Beach (start time TBA) and conclude at home plate of Marlins Park prior to the 7:10 p.m. Marlins-Diamondbacks game. The run will consist of five-mile intervals dedicated to a specific Charity of Choice, with a runner representing that specific charity joining Samson for the five-mile leg.
MIAMI The Marlins built it, and fans are buying in to Marlins Park in a big way.
Season-ticket sales are approaching 15,000, Marlins President David Samson said before the Marlins played their first exhibition in the ballpark Tuesday. That would have ranked in the top third in the major leagues last season, he said.
And where did the Marlins rank in season-ticket sales in their final season at Sun Life Stadium?
“We were three standard deviations from next to last, is the best way to say that,” he said. “We were No. 125 -- counting minor league teams.”
The great debate about Marlins Park has begun: Hitters park or pitchers park?
The Marlins’ first exhibition game Tuesday against the Miami Hurricanes didn’t shed much light on the issue.
The ultimate answer may be that it depends. The Marlins saw two different faces the park Tuesday, when the wind was swirling with the roof open during batting practice and after a rain squall prompted it to be closed for the game.
MIAMI It didn’t take long to see the benefit of the retractable roof at Marlins Park.
A half-hour before the Marlins played their first exhibition there against the University of Miami, a rain squall blew in. Unlike at Sun Life Stadium, where the grounds crew would have been rushing out with the tarp and fans scurrying for cover, it took the push of a button to solve the problem.
The roof rolled over the field in about 13 minutes and the game went off on schedule with fans and players dry and comfortable.
Friday night concerts, Saturday night fireworks and laser shows and numerous giveaways highlight promotions for fans at Marlins games throughout the 2012 season.
Monday home games will be designated as Outback Steakhouse Military Mondays, which will include in-game entertainment and ceremonies involving and honoring our U.S. military throughout the season. Outback will also be the presenting partner for Military Appreciation Day on Sunday, July 1.
Marlins fans will have a chance to meet players and tour the new ballpark at the Jiffy Lube Miami Marlins FanFest and Select-A-Seat event March 3 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Single-game tickets for the upcoming season, including the interleague series against the Boston Red Sox, will go on sale at 10 that morning on Marlins.com and at the Marlins Park Box Office, located on the north side of the ballpark, between the Home Plate and 3rd Base Entrances on Felo Ramirez Drive.
Scoring individual tickets to the Marlins’ opener will be much like banking on winning the Florida Lottery.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 52,000 fans had registered for a chance to purchase up to two tickets for Opening Night. They will be vying for as few as 1,000 tickets for the April 4 game against the World Series-champion Cardinals, although the Marlins haven’t specified the actual number that will be made available.
Online registration will continue through Feb. 20. Winners will be announced Feb. 23. There is no charge to register for this opportunity.
The Marlins are weeks away from playing their first games in Marlins Park, but PlayStation offered the first animated look Wednesday on how it will look in game action with the stands full of fans with a sneak peek of MLB 12 The Show.
The graphics are excellent, and the trailer, just over a minute long, offers a glimpse of the unique features of the park, including fish swimming in the tanks behind the plate and the home run extravaganza going off with jumping marlins, flying gulls and lights flashing.
Those looking to score tickets for Opening Night at Marlins Park without committing to a partial- or full-season plan can register for a lottery through Feb. 20 at marlins.com/openingnight
After that date, fans will be selected at random based on available inventory for the opportunity to purchase two tickets to the April 4 opener against the Cardinals. Those selected will be notified by February 28.
MIAMI A fan exiting Marlins Park after Saturday’s Select-a-Seat tour as I was heading up the ramp noticed my camera.
“Take a lot of pictures,” he said. “This is the most incredible structure I’ve ever seen.”
Maybe he was David Samson’s uncle. Unlikely -- he was a lot taller. What is clear is the Marlins couldn’t script more effective advertising than simply opening the gate and letting fans see for themselves.
The Marlins will begin selling tickets for spring training games at Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Marlins.com.
The spring home schedule opens March 6 with a split-squad game in Jupiter (1:05 p.m.) against Detroit followed by a 7:10 p.m. exhibition at the new retractable-roof park in Miami against the University of Miami.
The Marlins will play in their new Little Havana home the following night against Florida International. The games against UM and FIU are planned as soft openings for the park with about 10,000 and 15,000 tickets, respectively, to be made available. Tickets for those two games will go on sale Jan. 27 at 10 a.m. on Marlins.com.
The Marlins are giving fans a chance to welcome their Big Three free-agent acquisitions to South Florida on Friday.
Shortstop Jose Reyes, and pitchers Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle will be available for one-on-one photo sessions with fans at three of the Marlins’ holiday retail outlets. Events will mark the trio’s first public appearance in South Florida as a part of the Miami Marlins.
The photo sessions will be 4-5 p.m. at Dolphin Mall (11401 NW 12th St., Miami) with Reyes; Sawgrass Mall (12801 W. Sunrise Blvd., Sunrise) with Buehrle; and the Marlins en Miami store with Bell (3701 SW 8th St., Miami).
The Marlins have embraced the move to Miami in every way, and that includes food at the new ballpark in Little Havana, which will have a distinct Latin flavor.
Three restaurants with deep roots in the community will be serving local fare in the Taste of Miami area on the Promenade level on the third base side: Papo Llega y Pon, Latin American Grill and Don Camaron.
“Each concept will feature a specialty item, including seafood, pork sandwiches and Cuban sandwiches. It is important that we provide a unique experience for our fans,” said Claude Delorme, Marlins Executive VP of Ballpark Development.
Four months from Opening Day, the Marlins’ new home remains No-Name Ballpark.
Team President David Samson indicated Wednesday that the signings of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell and pursuit of more big-name free agents has sparked interest in companies wanting to attach their name to the retractable-roof park in Little Havana.
When LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach, livelier night life wasn't the biggest advantage over electing to stay in Cleveland.
The tangible difference was in coming to a place with no state or city income tax.
The same benefit entices Albert Pujols as he weighs staying in St. Louis or opting for the Crayola colors of the Miami Marlins. The tax savings are gaudier than that grandiose home run feature he would be igniting with regularity at the new ballpark in Little Havana.
The Marlins have never had a manager like Ozzie Guillen. Nor has any other team – except the White Sox, who had eight years of Ozzie.
Guillen has yet to don a Miami Marlins uniform, at least publically, but he is already the team’s most visible presence. It is apparent that whether he ends up being loved or loathed in his Marlins tenure, he will be immensely entertaining.
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.