The Marlins Foundation hosted its annual Fish 'N Chips casino style party Thursday night, a charitable event aimed at bringing fans together with players, coaches and alumni while raising money for the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program.
In the end, the foundation would have been better off just calling it Chips because there were no Fish in attendance.
Caught up in the disappointment of a seven-game losing streak, the handful of Marlins players who had committed to attending the evening skipped out, bringing ire from fans Friday who paid between $100 and $175 to be there.
Although the event was only optional for players to attend, team president David Samson said he was disappointed none of the ones who had committed showed and promised there would be a follow-up in the clubhouse.
So were the Marlins players trying to send a message about manager Mike Redmond's firing earlier this week and about who the organization made his replacement?
Everyone in the organization that spoke Friday said that absolutely wasn't the case. They said the seven-game skid and the fact the Marlins lost a hard-fought 7-6 afternoon game to the Diamondbacks were the reasons why players skipped the event.
"I can see why people are making a big deal about it -- people pay money, want to be around the players," said relief pitcher Steve Cishek, who is also the team's player representative. " But you've got to realize we were here all day. Everyone is exhausted. You look at Dee Gordon he's stumbling around the locker room after the game, he played his heart out. Everyone battled yesterday. It was just not the right timing. It's tough to explain. It's just the way things are going for us right now. All of our guys have taken it to heart. Everyone is an adult here. They just didn't show up. Their decision."
Samson said the losing streak nor the long day were valid excuses for the players to skip the event.
"The foundation events are very important to us and of course I'm disappointed no players were there," he said. "I think win or lose, what we do in the community matters most. Obviously we want to win more and they're working very hard to win. But from my standpoint, when you have a commitment with the community, you've got to do it.
"Listen, a lot of guys are very generous with their time and very generous with their pocket book. The fact is though sometimes you make commitments and you lose a game and you're tired and grumpy and angry. But guess what -- you have to continue on with what your job is, and the job doesn't end at the 27th out."
Manager Dan Jennings and most of his coaching staff did attend Thursday night's event. So too did president of baseball operations Mike Hill. Jennings said he hopes fans will eventually cut the players some slack.
"I hope our fans are more aggravated at the 0-7 than the missing the event," Jennings said. "These players, their hearts are in the right place. I think their track record from what they do and what they’ve done in the community speak to that."
Said Cishek: "Obviously the players feel badly about it. But like I said, it's just been a tough go for us. Everyone is exhausted and we're just worried about playing this game, winning today. We owe that guy a win. We need to get back on the right track."