On pins and creedals

Fans have a creed too. Unlike the Church, ours is not spelled out or even welcoming. Our creed is a winnowing process based on loyalty. Doubting one’s team in between playoff games earns you a lifetime ban from this church. You show loyalty to a team whose ownership are cartoonishly dishonest about their business dealings, we are impressed.

Think about it. Since the end of the 2005 season, being a loyal Marlins fan would put you near the top of the Fan pyramid as surely as Gordon Cooper was atop the Astronaut pyramid on May 21st 1963. The Marlins had at least one fan with the right stuff. His name was Louis Mendez, Sr. and the stuff he used were commemorative pins.

Louis Mendez, Sr. – The Pin Man

I’ve heard it mentioned–and I agree in part since I was there with a few of my Emmaus brothers–that if we had to pinpoint the moment the Miami Marlins began benefiting from a home field advantage at their new ballpark, it happened in a May 21st game against the Colorado Rockies. In the 4th inning of that game, Giancarlo Stanton hit a bases loaded home run against Jamie Moyer. That’s one way to describe it.

Here’s another. A 22 year-old hit a grand slam off a 49 year-old pitcher who was was in MLB before the hitter was born. The pitch came in at 72 mph and came off the bat at a record speed of 122 mph. It was a home run even a Roy Hobbs would have bragged about, if he drank.

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Lucy In The Diamond With Skies

I went to a Marlins game with my brother on Saturday and our childhood broke out. We walked into a cavernous stadium for a MLB game and by the time we left I had wandered into a Little Havana apartment mere blocks from the Orange Bowl circa 1967. It was there that my pre-teen hormones found themselves in the room of a teenage neighbor girl who showed me her ‘With the Beatles’ album and played it on her plastic white General Electric portable record player. I knew and cared nothing about the music, but she was thrilled and I wasn’t moving.

I couldn’t figure why they would use a picture that didn’t even show all their faces

This magical mystery tour came after another Marlins one run loss to Milwaukee and courtesy of a Beatles tribute band named The Fab Four [go figure], who wandered in from the outfield with the same urgency as Hanley chasing down a bloop double. Oh Shea, can’t you see?

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Hubris on display, Marlins management

This blog post has two purposes. One is to document the continuing attempts — see Jeff Passan’s and Sarah Talalay’s columns — by the Florida Marlins president David Samson to mislead the public about the Florida Marlins profitability and how Jeffrey Loria has benefited from that profitability. The other purpose is to give future auditors a good example of how someone can attempt to mislead by using pretentious language. This latest example came on Samson’s radio show with Dan Le Batard on 9/1/10.

The exchange came with 18 minutes left in the program. My clarifications will be in [brackets] and my comments will be [bolded in brackets]. See the text below:

Le Batard: Given your claim that “not a dollar has gone to Loria,” what’s the explanation for the payments which went to Double Play, a company run by you and Jeffrey Loria?

Samson: Yeah you have to look a little deeper though into the statements and understand they are … Double Play is the Managing General Partner of a partnership [Marlins] and … God we’re getting so technical it’s such bad radio, I’d rather talk about other things [JC: No doubt.] but I will always answer your questions … Daniel.

Samson: Ugh … it is a … it’s [Double Play] the Managing General Partner of a partnership [Marlins]. Any limited partnership [type of partnership the Marlins are] has a [Managing] General Partner … and what Double Play is … in the books … is that Managing General Partner … and the Partnership [Marlins] gives money to the [Managing] General Partner, in the form … we call it a … it’s a management fee, for its expenses in running the Partnership [Marlins].
[JC: Important to note that Samson has said nothing yet to answer the actual question. He merely stated that Double Play is the Managing General Partner of the Florida Marlins, but he did so in a very confusing manner. For example he never mentions the Marlins, always calls them the partnership, and Double Play is alternately referred to as the ‘Managing General Partner’ and the abbreviated ‘General Partner.’ They are one and the same in Samson’s explanations.

The question was; Why did the Marlins pay Double Play? Double Play’s role in relation to the Marlins is clearly spelled out in the released financial statements. So he has merely reiterated facts which were not asked or in dispute, and done so in an attempt to create confusion.]

Le Batard: [clearly baffled] What?
[JC: So it worked, for now. Where’s Jo-Ellan Dimitrius when you need her.]

Samson: What you don’t understand or what you want a different answer?

Le Batard: Is that how owners get paid?

Samson: [cough] I, I, … In terms of getting paid, I don’t know what that means.
[JC: He does.]

Samson: In terms of W-2 income … [cough] …
[JC: W-2’s reflect salaries paid to employees. There is no reason to refer to a ‘W-2’ when discussing the fees paid by the Marlins to Double Play. Clearly an attempt to confuse in the hopes non-business people associate getting paid with an employee salary, as opposed to a management fee from one company to another.]

Samson: … it’s [Management Fees] expenses that are paid [to Double Play] in the running of the partnership [Marlins].
[JC: So he raised the issue of W-2’s and then just ignored it. The question was not whether the monies paid to Double Play were expenses to the Marlins, the question was whether that is how Loria gets paid. Since it is how Loria gets paid, we get his nonsensical answer.]

Le Batard: Like?

Samson: Travel
[JC: Remember, Double Play was paid $5.4 million over two years and is scheduled to earn $3.2 million this year. Samson has tried to imply that Loria does not benefit from those monies because the company which he controls, Double Play, had expenses which would have eaten up the $5.4 million received from the Marlins.

Here, he can’t even think of anything significant which would be an expense to Double Play, which strongly suggests that the monies paid were exactly what the question implied, fees paid to the owner. Fees which obviously put a lie to the claim that “not a dollar has gone to Loria.”]

Le Batard: Like?

Samson: I could go on and on.
[JC: If he could have, he would have.]

Samson: It’s a complicated thing to run a partnership.
[JC: Misleading people about numbers on audited financial statements is even more complicated.]

LeBatard: And it [costs] millions of dollars right?
[JC: Key question. Without putting a dollar amount on Double Play’s expenses, Samson could continue to allude to different expense line items — for example the “travel” he noted earlier in the interview or the “architects and engineers” he had told the Miami Herald last week — which don’t alter the main point here.

Whatever expenses Double Play may have, they would never approach the $5.4 million paid to them by the Marlins. Because the main reason for setting up a [related party] company like Double Play — an arrangement which involves two companies with the same owner — is to pay the owner [Loria] in an indirect manner.]

Samson: Ugh … it is millions …
[JC: Careful David, this lie would be really hard to walk back.]

Samson: … it is millions of dollars [the $5.4 million management fee] that is awarded to the Managing General Partner [Double Play] …
[JC: No David, we know $5.4 million was paid [awarded?] to Double Play. But what were Double Play’s expenses? That’s the question now being asked.]

Samson: … that they [Double Play] then use, it [DP] then uses, it’s not a they [JC: kinda funny that Samson interrupts himself to ensure that Double Play is thought of as an “it” as opposed to a “they” – it’s the only thing he is interested in being clear about], which it [DP] then uses to do it’s job.
[JC: But David, the question was how much of the $5.4 million it uses to do that job. Because even if travel amounted to $400,000, that means that Loria personally benefited by $5 million from the team in fees alone over the two exposed years.

To be clear, if Double Play’s expenses were millions of dollars, the answer could have been a simple yes. It does not cost millions of dollars to run Double Play. It is how Loria gets his money from the Florida Marlins and simultaneously reduces the Marlins net income. Samson ends the interview how he began it, reiterating facts which were not being asked in such a way as to confuse non-business people.]

LeBatard: We come back with your questions for David Samson….

Some people would argue that this attempt at obfuscation is just part of Samson’s job. I believe that if he can’t be truthful, Samson should just avoid these type of public comments. Far from revealing any type of financial acumen — the things I pointed out could spotted by most 1st year accounting students — they reveal a contempt for the listeners; Marlins fans, people concerned about public monies committed to private projects and the actual hosts of the radio show.

Of the hosts, only Dan Le Batard would claim any type of journalist role, but not necessarily, or perhaps explicitly, not on the radio. But at what point does someone who earns a living at least part of the time as a journalist, have a responsibility not to appear to be complicit in the public dissembling of the Florida Marlins?

To me the complicity comes not in the actual interview, during which it would have been difficult for someone unfamiliar with financial language to spot — I had the luxury of replaying the broadcast — but in the lack of a serious follow up, even if it means bringing up the topic on the next show. The irony is that the Le Batard questions I noted in this interview was one of the few times [I’m a regular listener] that there was a follow up to something Samson had said on a previous show.

But what’s the point if the follow up is met meet with yet more of the same unchallenged nonsense? Samson has been making these type of misleading comments for years on his shows. It’s just too convenient for Le Batard to write that the truth is a matter of perspective when most of Samson’s lies have been spoken on his radio program.

This latest radio interview was just another example of the hubris of Jeffrey Loria and David Samson.

Power and Glory: Home For That Halladay

I was there for Roy Halladay’s perfect game against the Marlins Saturday night. Good thing too, it created a memory ready to be stirred. It will forever be the evening I attended a historic game with a good friend, as opposed to the first time I’ve ever over-paid for a Marlins ticket [Club level]. Prior to the consecration, the evening appeared to be adding insult to the monetary injury, as we arrived late for the game [bot of the 3rd], proceeded to over pay for food [I suppose just stating that we ate at the stadium would suffice] and arrived at our seats to start the 5th inning.

The very idea which brought me to the game — a great pitching match-up — I soon realized was cruelly being used to turn this into my most inefficient sports-related expenditure ever, at $9.20/inning and quick innings at that!

I have attended about 5 games a season since the Marlins have been around. For a while, at or about the turn of the century, when my kids were still at an age where their hatred of attending MLB games was unarticulated, I was actually banned from purchasing Fish Bowl tickets [Depression-era pricing for last 2 rows in upper deck] at the stadium after the All-Star break. The cost of parking exceeded the cost of tickets for many a season. As an aside, this has nothing to do with where we actually sat at the games. Turns out those empty seats you see on TV, are a blessing in no disguise.

So what was the feeling at the stadium Saturday night? Despite the hated opponent and classic pitching match-up, the biggest factor about the crowd at the game was the post-game salsa concert. The higher numbers attributed to those also there to enjoy the concert, meant that we Marlin [The Marlin Fan as Jonathan Zaslow might say] fans enjoyed a respite from being out-noised in our own home during a big game.

There always seems to be an awkward detente between us baseball fans and those there mainly for the post-game concert? Latin concert goers typically include younger attractive women [I didn’t say that they were unwelcome interlopers], jewelry and a consistently unaccountable level of excitement. We baseball fans stare at them whenever they get flashed on the big screens as though they are animals to which we would give shelter, but not trust.

I wonder what Roy Halladay, with his now legendary bent-on-one-thing focus, was thinking about his start? Perhaps Graham Greene would have captured it best:

This place was very like the world: overcrowded with lust and crime and unhappy love, it stank to heaven; but I realized that after all it was possible to find peace there, when you knew for certain that the time was short.

That’s how he pitched, like time was short. Treating the Marlins with a shabby indifference, carrion for a vulture with a plan. Clearly sensing my panic over the quick pace of the game and the bleak prospects for a rain-delay, Halladay pitched as though a door had opened in his mind and allowed him to glimpse his future with this perfect game in his resume.

Bottom of 5th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Jorge Cantu Strike (looking), J Cantu grounded out to second 1 0
Dan Uggla Strike (swinging), Strike (looking), Ball, Ball, Ball, Foul, D Uggla flied out to center 1 0
Cody Ross Ball, Strike (looking), C Ross grounded out to first 1 0

Halladay’s perfect game through the 5th inning immediately presented a moral dilemma. Root for the chance to watch a historic game or a Marlins victory? No contest, I wanted to be at the ballpark for a historic game, as I told my friend. He looked at me like Jack Bauer looked at Tony Almeida in the DC Metro tunnels during Season 7. It’s a look I never want to see again, but yes, I still wanted to see the perfect game.

Bottom of the 6th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Brett Hayes Strike (looking), Strike (foul), Strike (swinging), B Hayes struck out swinging 1 0
Cameron Maybin Ball, Ball, Strike (swinging), Ball, C Maybin grounded out to shortstop 1 0
Josh Johnson Strike (looking), J Johnson flied out to left 1 0

Now I’m looking around at a number of Philadelphia Phillie fans sitting around us and imagine that it must be pretty cool to show up as the visitors and get to watch a perfect game. My attention soon focused on a family right in front of us. Left to right; Dad [seemed like a Herb], Mom [Utley jersey], daughter 1 [Hamels jersey] and daughter 2 [Victorino jersey]. They seem pretty calm about what they are witnessing. Must be veteran fans I figure, ya know, never too high or too low. To paraphrase Miles in Risky Business, I can smell MLB knowledge.

Bottom of the 7th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Chris Coghlan Ball, Ball, Strike (looking), Strike (swinging), Strike (looking), C Coghlan struck out looking 1 0
Gaby Sanchez Ball, Strike (foul), Strike (foul), Foul, Ball, Ball, G Sanchez lined out to left 1 0
Hanley Ramirez Strike (looking), Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike (foul), Strike (looking), H Ramirez struck out looking

Hanley stood there after the called strike, like a black question mark, ready to go, ready to stay, poised on his bat.

 

1 0

Being at a MLB game is no way to really watch a game closely. How could Coghlan and Ramirez have not swung at close pitches during a perfect game? Were the pitches even close? Like most fanatics, the integrity of the home plate umpire [Mike DiMuro] immediately came into question … [submarine dive horn] … [submarine dive horn] PLIQ alert. My best google smear odds came down to whether DiMuro could have been a fellow Mormon like Halladay … and this game represented a … a mission to him for, yes …. Nah, no luck on the conspiracy front. The jersey-clad family, still calm. Cool customers these folks are.

Bottom of the 8th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Jorge Cantu Ball, Ball, Strike (foul), J Cantu grounded out to third 1 0
Dan Uggla Ball, Strike (looking), Ball, Strike (foul), Strike (looking), D Uggla struck out looking 1 0
Cody Ross Strike (foul), C Ross popped out to shortstop 1 0

The sagacious power of Halladay drew nearer to the Marlins death every inning. Easy Graham … that aside, there was something definitely wrong with the jersey-clad clan. They have not moved, they’re not even buzzing with intra-family small talk designed to avoid silence [yes I was that close], but mainly reveal a vacancy. Granted, the jumbotron ads in Spanish for the salsa singers appearing in concert after the game – Luis Enrique and Jerry Rivera – may have unnerved them. But still these are Philly fans, they have likely witnessed human sacrifices at the old Vet.

The irrational fan in me begins to take over. I fantasize about starting a rumor that Halladay is wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt under his uniform. But I reject the idea. See, I would have had to start the rumor before the 7th inning for it to have a realistic chance of working.

Bottom of the 9th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Mike Lamb [Stadium announcer] Pinch-hitting … Mike Lamb.

My friend, who goes by a tribal-like nickname which bears no relation to his actual name [Wichi], begins chanting ‘Lamb to slaughter’ with an unblinking H. Lector-type intensity.

Ball, Strike (foul), Ball, M Lamb flied out to center

Dear Elias Sports Bureau, would it kill you to note that it was a 430 FOOT flyout?

 

1 0
Wes Helms Strike (looking), Strike (swinging), Ball, Strike (looking), W Helms struck out looking

OK – 1 last fantasy – last hitter Paulino walks on a horrible call by DiMuro. Hallady loses his perfect game. Then Coghlan homers on the 1st pitch and Halladay loses the no-hitter, shutout and game. As he walks off the mound, he charges DiMuro …

 

1 0
Ronny Paulino Strike (foul), Ball, Strike (foul),

Herb under intense pressure from the jersey-wearing part of the family, finally rises from his seat [hell, it’s his first body motion since the 5th inning] after the 2nd strike. I make a note to remind him of this should his selfish actions have cost Hallady the perfect game

R Paulino grounded out to third

1 0

 

Roy Halladay, ora pro nobis

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