2 p.m. update: Marlins closing in on deal with power-hitting 1B Jones, Fins notes; Media column: Incognito/Martin
The Friday media column is below. First, a couple of afternoon updates:
### 2 p.m. update: The Marlins are expected to finalize a contract with former Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones, who would give them a more established power hitter than Logan Morrison. Jones will make $7.75 million in a two-year deal, sources say.
The Marlins will likely deal Morrison for a third baseman or prospects or pitching or whatever the front office deems to be the best offer.
After adding Jarod Saltalamacchia, Rafael Furcal and Jones, the Marlins will have about $46 million in payroll commitments next season. Morrison is expected to make between $1.5 million and $2 million in arbitration, and the Marlins could reduce that $47 million figure slightly by trading Morrison for a young player or two who are not yet eligible for arbitration.
Besides a third baseman, the Marlins also are still looking to add a cheap veteran pitcher or two.
Please see our 10 a.m. post below for more regarding what the Marlins are getting in Jones....
There will be plenty of fraternizing between Dolphins and Steelers Saturday night (not that there's anything wrong with that, to use a Jerry Seinfeld line). Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, out for the year with a knee injury, invited center Mike Pouncey and the entire Dolphins' offensive line to dinner at his home Saturday night. Capital Grille will provide the food. And Mike Wallace will dine at the home of his former Steelers teammate, receiver Antonio Brown....
Cornerback Jamar Taylor (hamstring) was ruled out for Sunday’s game, and the Dolphins listed two players as questionable: cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who has been limited to five games by a groin injury this season, and running back Daniel Thomas, who missed last week’s game with an ankle injury.
The Dolphins listed six players as probable: Ryan Tannehill (thumb), Lamar Miller (pectoral), John Jerry (concussion), Chris Clemons (knee/hamstring), Michael Egnew (neck) and Austin Spitler (knee).
The Steelers listed defensive end Brett Keisel as out and tackle Kelvin Benchum as doubtful. Tackle Steve McLendon is questionable.
### 10 a.m. update: The Marlins are so interested in trading Logan Morrison, presuming they can get something decent back for him, that they've already had advanced discussions with at least one potential replacement.
According to sources, the Marlins have had serious discussions with former Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones, a left-handed hitter who has hit between 15 and 27 homers each of the past five seasons with Pittsburgh. There is interest on both sides and a two-year deal is being worked on.
The Pirates did not tender Jones a contract last week after he hit a career-low .233 with 15 homers and 51 RBI last season. That was a dropoff from 2012, when he hit .274, with 27 homers and 86 RBI.
Jones, 32, also can play right field, but the Marlins have said publicly that they don't plan to trade Giancarlo Stanton this offseason.
A left-handed hitter, Jones spent his first season with Minnesota and the past five with Pittsburgh. He hit 21, 21 and 16 homers in his first three years with the Pirates and last year became the first Pirate to hit a home run into the Allegheny River, which is just beyond PNC Park.
A .254 career hitter, Jones committed six errors in 83 games at first base last season and two in 64 games in right field.
The Marlins will explore trades involving Morrison over the next week. He could be dealt for a third baseman, which remains a priority.
The Marlins have been very active this week, signing catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and agreeing to terms with former Braves and Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal, who will play second base for the Marlins.
FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN
Some thoughts on the media’s coverage of the Dolphins’ BullyGate scandal as Ted Wells’ investigation continues:
### Lessons learned Part 1: Don’t rush to judgment. In this media culture where instant analysis is often encouraged and expected, too many pundits drew conclusions based only on the one Richie Incognito voice mail that became public. Considering the volume of text messages between Jonathan Martin and Incognito (more than 1100) and other evidence gathered by Wells, one Incognito voice mail was clearly insufficient to form any conclusive opinion.
It’s fair to criticize Incognito for the vulgarity in that voice mail and his use of a racial epithet. But making big-picture conclusions was premature then and still is now.
### Lessons learned Part 2: Context, please.
ESPN and CBS deserve credit for obtaining a transcript of most of that April voice mail that Incognito left for Martin. But did it change how you view that voice mail, even slightly, now that you know Incognito ended it with “call me back”?
Neither ESPN nor CBS knew or disclosed that detail. But that sign-off suggests Martin and Incognito weren’t enemies, and this could simply be the way Incognito addresses Martin.
Context also was needed when Incognito told Fox’s Jay Glazer that Martin threatened to kill his family. That “threat” – as we now know – was delivered via text in a playful Internet meme depicting a smiling woman and a dog. That cast the “threat” in a different light.
### Conflict of interest: NBC’s Tony Dungy is a pillar of integrity, but let’s be serious here: It’s highly unlikely that Dungy or CBS’ Dan Marino would criticize how the Dolphins have handled this mess in the wake of owner Stephen Ross appointing them to a committee to suggest rules for locker-room decorum.
Is this a Category 5 conflict of interest? Of course not. But it certainly gives the appearance of one. Both should have rejected Ross’ offer, or their networks should have asked them to decline.
In today’s media environment, the lines are blurred regarding conflicts. Shaquille O’Neal remains in TNT’s NBA studio despite being a Sacramento Kings minority owner. The view here is more restrictive: If you’re a national analyst, you shouldn’t be working for a team.
### Most thoughtful analysis: From ESPN’s Cris Carter, who dismissed the “boys-will-be-boys” locker-room narrative and instead has consistently delivered astute, measured, compassionate commentary. This, from Carter, rings true regardless of what Wells’ investigation determines:
“The NFL locker room is a workplace,” Carter said. “And the NFL’s committed to the belief that all employees have the right to work in an environment that is free from harassment, intimidation, discrimination, racial or sexual harassment, as well as harassment related to employees based on religion, national origin, age or disability...
“When you drive through the gate, give them your IR, you are in an active workplace. So all these ideas that in the locker room you can do this, that is not true. In an NFL locker room you are not allowed to act like an animal and a savage.”
### Most enlightened analysis on use of the N-word: From CBS’ Shannon Sharpe: “The Miami Dolphins locker room probably consists of 75% to 80% blacks. If you allow Richie Incognito to walk around in an open locker room and to use a racial epithet that most black Americans, all black Americans, know the stigmatism and the hate and the vitriol that comes with that word. If you allow him to do that, you are encouraging him to do that. …
“I read that some black players said Richie Incognito was an honorary black man. There is no such thing. This tells me everything I need to know about the Miami Dolphins locker room. I'm 45. I grew up in rural south Georgia. Just ask your parents. Ask your grandparents. The mountain that they climbed so a black person in America could have respect, could have dignity, and you allow this in an open locker room to take place is unacceptable…. If he said that to Jonathan Martin, he didn't only say it to him. He would be talking to you too. Because if you're black, you know what that word means.”
Honorable mention: Cris Collinsworth, who explained to a group of children why the N-word should not be used. It made for compelling television on Showtime’s Inside the NFL.
### Most politically incorrect analysis: From ESPN’s Mike Ditka: “If I was the coach, I wouldn’t have either Incognito, the bully, or the baby, Martin, on my team. That’s me. Does that make me right? No. That makes me me.” Martin has been receiving treatment for depression.
### Biggest media contradiction: There have been several, including The Miami Herald reporting that coaches did not order players to toughen up Martin. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported otherwise. Wells’ report will give clarity on that, as well as conflicting reports about whether Jeff Ireland told Martin’s agent that Martin should have punched Incognito.
### Commentator most critical of Joe Philbin: CBS’ Bill Cowher: "In the NFL, perception is reality. Perception you have here is the coaching staff does not have a pulse for their football team.... The head coach immediately should have addressed this from the top. Because now it's taken on a life of its own."
### Active player most critical of the Dolphins: Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, in a guest cameo on CBS: “You have a bunch of misguided young men in that Miami Dolphins locker room. They lack leadership. Your most tenured guy is your long snapper. Long snappers are to be seen and not heard!”
### Most insulting zinger from a network analyst: From ESPN’s Trent Dilfer: “When your alpha leader, the one voice that's being heard the most, is a turd, you're going to have a hard time winning in any sport, and that's what's happened here."
AROUND THE DIAL
### The Ticket general manager Maureen Lesourd said she has begun the search to replace Marc Hochman, who left 790/104.3 on Thursday and likely will join WQAM as afternoon drive host in April. She said candidates inside and outside the building will be considered and there's no timetable. Lesourd said during the search, there won't be a guest host joining regular hosts Jonathan Zaslow and Joy Taylor, though producer Brendan Tobin will be permitted to continue chiming in.
### Inappropriately phrased tweet of the month, from NBC Sports Radio on Thursday: “Confirmed: Jameis Winston gives the Heisman stiff arm to the allegations against him of sexual assault. He will not be charged.” The tweet was subsequently deleted.
### ESPN canceled Anchorman 2 star Will Ferrell’s guest-anchoring appearance on SportsCenter Thursday because of the Winston news.
### Something you never see, aside from the NCAA Tournament: CBS will televise a live game that starts at 10 p.m. Saturday: the Utah State-Fresno State Mountain West championship. That means no late-night local newscast, which is incredibly rare.… CBS is sending Dolphins-Steelers to 20 percent of the country, with its No. 3 announcing team, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts, on the call. The Dolphins get CBS' lead team (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms) for the New England game on Dec. 15.
### Though the Seahawks-49ers game matches two better teams, WSVN-7 preferred and received permission to air Giants-Chargers instead at 4:25 p.m. Sunday because of the large number of transplated New Yorkers here.... Sun Sports' Heat ratings are up 26 percent from a year ago, to a 6.7 average.