June 11, 2012

Samson explains how phone call from Beinfest to end Marlins six-game losing streak led to roof opening

When David Samson's phone rang shortly after 5 o'clock Monday and he saw the call was coming from Larry Beinfest the first thing he said he thought was "something bad had happened."

David Samson
David Samson said it was Larry Beinfest's suggestion that led to the roof being opened Monday night.

Turns out the Marlins President of Baseball Operations was calling the team's No. 2 guy to make a suggestion.

"[Beinfest] said 'Hey, we've lost six in a row. I've got an idea. Let's open the roof and see what happens,'" Samson said. "I said, 'What's the temperature?' He said, 'It's going to below 80. It's going to be 79.' I said, 'Let's just try it.'"

Samson said he made two more phone calls. The first to owner Jeffrey Loria, and the next to manager Ozzie Guillen. Both agreed to it.

"[Loria] was worried about our fans, didn't want them to be too hot," Samson explained. "I spoke to the weather people and they said it was zero percent chance of rain, a nice wind breeze, our formula showed we could keep it open. We spoke to Ozzie, Ozzie said, 'What do I care? We lose six when it's open, we win six when it's closed, do whatever you want.' Ozzie was great. We decided to do it.'"

So, less than a half hour before Josh Johnson delivered the first pitch to Scott Podsednick, the roof was opened for a game at Marlins Park for the first time since April 18th.

Samson said normally the roof would have stayed closed on a night like this because the formula the Marlins use to determine if the weather is suitable (temperature, relative humidity and chance of rain) remained questionable in his eyes. But Beinfest's phone call and the unusually cool weather in South Florida with no chance of rain convinced Samson to go for it.

"The danger of this strategy is we win tonight and all of a sudden we hear from the man upstairs [Loria] the roof will be open at all-times, bring your umbrellas," Samson joked.

Samson said he expects the roof to remain closed on most nights this summer. "I don't know if this changes anything," he said. "But I'm still trying to hit my number of 11 open games for the season, which I promised you guys."

> As for the state of the team following six consecutive losses, Samson said: "We hope it's not April off. May on. June off.

"But it's too early to say that. We weren't hitting. The pitching has been holding us in so many tight games where they weren't getting support. Pitching has a hick up and you're not hitting you're going to have a problem. Ozzie is completely confident. We're all completely confident. Obviously, we wanted to bring Gaby [Sanchez] back up because we're a better team with Gaby and Logan [Morrison] in left. That's the team we built to play."

> Samson said the team will make adjustments to the pricing of tickets next season.

"Basically, we've studied everything," he said. "When we do prices and renewals for next year we're going to have adjustments all over the ballpark. We did pricing without knowing how fans would react, where they would buy. Certain areas are under priced. Certain areas are overpriced. We're going to go through them and do everything we can to make it better."

April 09, 2012

Ozzie Guillen will return to Miami Tuesday to address Castro comments

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said prior to Monday’s game against the Phillies that he would travel back to Miami after the game and hold a press conference Tuesday to address the recent comments in a Time magazine article concerning Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

            Guillen was quoted in a recent online article by Time Magazine as saying he respected Castro for having been able to remain in power in Cuba as long as he has.

Guillen later apologized for the comment during the team’s road trip this past weekend to Cincinnati where he said: “I’m against the way he [Castro] treats people and the way [he has treated] his country for a long time. I’m against that 100 percent.”

“I was planning to do something Friday, but tomorrow we have the day off and I want to make everything clear so people can talk to me face to face,” Guillen said. “They can ask me whatever questions they want, and the sooner the better for the people, for the ball club and for me. I want to tell people what is going on in my mind and what I believe.”

Guillen said he has been struggling with the situation the past three days, and hasn’t been able to sleep.

The Marlins did not release an exact time for the press conference as of Monday morning, but Guillen said it would take place at Marlins Park.

“I want the people there,” Guillen said. “I feel embarrassed. I feel guilty not because I’m not lying, but because this thing hasn’t let me sleep for three days. Only my wife knows how bad it’s been last few days. I feel very guilty, sad and embarrassed. Anyone who wants to be there, feel free. I want to be there by myself and I want the Cuban people to understand what I’m going to say because everything I’m going to say is true.”

Guillen said he wasn’t surprised by the reaction and knew how deeply it would affect the Cuban community.

“I have to face it,” Guillen said. “I have to make people feel good about themselves. I will say what I said a couple of days ago. I don’t want to just make a statement and that’s it because I think when you do that, that’s a bunch of crap.

“I feel sad because I know I hurt a lot of people,” Guillen said. “I’m Latino. I live in Miami. I have a lot of friends, and players [that are Cuban]. They know who I am. They know how I feel.”

Guillen said he had not spoken to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria about it and didn't think this would affect his job status. He the saddest part for him was to apologize to Cuban broadcasting legend and Hall of Famer Felo Ramirez.

Ramirez, the Marlins Hall of Fame spanish radio announcer, did not wish to speak much about the situation but said he felt Guillen was doing the right thing by returning to Miami.

Guillen said he also apologized to Cuban-born Phillies pitcher Jose Contreras.

“Obviously it’s something that was going to affect people a lot and [Guillen] realizes that,” Ramirez said. “I think he will answer everything [in Miami].”

The ripple effect reached members of the Cuban community even in Philadelphia.

Phillies spanish radio announcer Rickie Ricardo, who was born in New York but whose family migrated from Cuba, said the situation was something that could be more damaging to the team’s image than anything negative on the field.

“Let’s hope Ozzie addresses it and clears things up,” Ricardo said. “That’s a subject that’s untouchable. This team could go 0-50 and it wouldn’t hurt the Cuban community as much as him saying something like that.”


April 04, 2012

Marlins Park HR sculpture will be big part of Estefan's opening show

Opening Night is finally here and before Josh Johnson throws the first pitch of the game to Rafael Furcal a ceremony will take place on the field at about 6:15 p.m. to help usher in the new era at Marlins Park.

Miami's own Emilio Estefan has a 30-minute pregame program scheduled and let the Miami Herald in on a little secret -- the giant home run sculpture in center field will very much be a part of the show. According to Estefan, it will move in unison with the music.

"The opening is a tribute to the United States and Miami -- all Miami music with a lot of Miami's history," Estefan said. "I put a lot of the last eight months of my life for this -- for 30 minutes. I worked on the Olympics and three Super Bowls, but today is going to provide a lot of pride for me, for my kids and my family."

Every fan will be given a box of tic tac mints to use as instruments so they can play along.

April 02, 2012

Marlins Park retractable roof hit a glitch Saturday

The retractable roof is brand new, but it's not perfect.

Saturday, Marlins Park personnel experienced their first hiccup with the 8,000-ton moving roof when a sensor malfunction delayed its closing for 10 minutes during a heavy rain storm, leaving the field wet and soggy before Sunday's exhibition game with the Yankees.

"There was a period Saturday where we locked it in one area after we had a sensor go off," said Claude Delorme, the team's Executive Vice President for Operations and Events. "We wanted to make sure we got clearance and then we continued to close it. It was purely a precautionary measure."

Delorme said the roof was being left open Saturday so the grass could receive sun and some rain should it come. But when afternoon storms intensified, Delorme said, personnel decided to close it.

"Delays like that can happen time to time for whatever reason," Delorme said. "The point is to try and protect the roof from being damaged."

It takes 13 minutes for the roof to close, according to Delorme, once the brakes are removed by stadium personnel. "It basically takes 20 minutes total once we decide we want to close it," Delorme said. "The first seven minutes are sending the personnel up there to prepare for it to close."

The Marlins have yet to play a game with the roof open, but will attempt to tonight against the Yankees. With the temperature at 89 degrees and the humidity at 55 percent, Marlins President David Samson said the team decided to close it Monday afternoon with the hope the stadium would cool down in time for first pitch.

Samson said he, Delorme and two other members of Marlins personnel will meet at 3:30 p.m. before every night game at Marlins Park to decide whether to leave the roof open or closed. The guidelines to leave the roof open: temperatures inside the stadium won't go higher than 80 degrees and the humidity won't be higher than 60 percent. 

"Anything over that, there's no chance [we'll leave it open]," Samson said. "We also have to factor in wind and relative humidity."

> Former starting pitcher Javier Vazquez visited the team during batting practice Monday with his son. Vazquez, 35, said he doesn't want to say he's retired, but "I don't have an itch" to return. Vazquez said he's going to stick around and watch the Marlins tonight, but will be at the Heat-Thunder game on Wednesday. 

April 11, 2010

New out-of-town scoreboard up at Sun Life

It isn't as easy to find as it once was on the Teal Monster, but baseball fans have a full out-of-town scoreboard they can follow along again at Sun Life Stadium. 

The black, medium-sized electronic scoreboard is located high above the left field wall and just below the 400 section, in between the names of Joe Robbie and Don Shula in the Dolphins' Ring of Honor. The scoreboard alternates American League and National League scores every 30 seconds.

For 17 seasons, fans used to be able to follow every out-of-town game (including line scores) on two large left field wall scoreboards. But they were replaced with advertising this season, according to Marlins spokesman PJ Loyello, because the company which used to produce replacement parts no longer manufactured the parts needed to repair the board to keep it operating properly. Plus, the Marlins nor the Dolphins, who own the stadium, wanted to foot the bill.

> Former Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell, who is spending his time on the bench with the Red Sox these days, talked with ESPN's Gordon Edes about retirement and possibly becoming a Marlins broadcaster one day. Interesting read.

April 09, 2010

Teal Monster put to rest at Sun Life Stadium

In the 18-years the Marlins have called Miami Gardens home, the stadium they've rented from the Dolphins has had many names. The one constant -- aside from the orange stadium seats -- has been the big teal scoreboard in left field. 

IMG00314 Well, the Teal Monster is no more. Friday as the Marlins took the field for warm-ups at Sun Life Stadium for Opening Night, players paused to take notice that the familiar teal out-of-town scoreboard (once mechanical before it became digital) had been replaced by full color advertisements for the MLB Network. And the teal boards where the starting lineups were once posted (on each side of the Cafe Bustelo clock) were also replaced by Marlins ads -- one featuring Billy The Marlin. 

The explanation from Marlins brass for the change: "The bulbs were constantly malfunctioning and popping," said PJ Loyello, Marlins senior Vice President for Communications and Broadcasting. "It was cost prohibitive to just replace the whole thing."

With the Marlins set to move into their new stadium in 2012, the Marlins don't see it as a big deal. Fans, Loyello said, can turn to the ribbon scoreboards (the electronic ones that wrap around the stadium) for out of town scores and to the large electronic scoreboards for lineup information.

> Hall of Fame inductee and Miami native Andre Dawson is set to throw out the first pitch tonight before the Marlins take on the Dodgers at 7:10 p.m. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Dawson, a special assistant to Marlins President David Samson, has meant a lot to the club over the years. 

"He's like [investment broker] E.F. Hutton -- when he talks, you better listen," Gonzalez said. "He has a lot of good stuff to say. Real quiet. Real reserved. But when he says something you better listen. I think our guys use him a lot. He and [Tony Perez] are also pretty good evaluators. They not only help us up here, but the minor leagues. They help Larry [Beinfest] and David [Samson]. They do a lot of stuff for this organization."

> Relief pitcher Brian Sanches said he threw off flat ground Thursday for the first time since straining his right hamstring warming up in the Marlins next to last exhibition game of the spring. Sanches, who has been on the disabled list since April 3rd, said he's hopeful he can return when he is 15-day stint is up.

"To me when the 15 days are up, I want to be ready to go," Sanches said. "I don't know how realistic that is. It's feeling good right now. I haven't had any problems. Yesterday was pain free. The stuff I'm doing on the bike, treadmill stuff has been pain free. Stretching has been going real good. Hopefully, we can get out there quicker."

Sanches' replacement, Tim Wood, picked up his first career save in the Marlins 7-6 10-inning win Wednesday night. Wood, who was supposed to begin the season at Triple A New Orleans, said he's waiting to see how long Saches will be out before recalling his luggage. At the moment, Wood said, he's surviving with what he has in a little suit case.

"All I have is a few shirts, a few pairs of jeans and some underwear," said Wood, who is staying with teammate Chris Volstad during his stay with the Marlins. "I have one suit of course. For the most part, everything else is in New Orleans -- my X-Box, all that stuff."

LINEUP FOR GAME NO. 4 OF 162 -- Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan LF; 2. Cameron Maybin CF; 3. Hanley Ramirez SS; 4. Jorge Cantu 3B; 5. Dan Uggla 2B; 6. John Baker C; 7. Cody Ross RF; 8. Gaby Sanchez 1B; 9. Chris Volstad P. Dodgers: 

April 25, 2009

Lindstrom: "I have to mix my pitches better"

Matt Lindstrom didn't get a good night's sleep Friday and he didn't receive any supportive phone calls from friends around the league after his meltdown against the Phillies. The life of a closer can feel pretty lonely at times.

Matt Lindstrom The 6-4, 210-pound hard throwing right-hander is learning -- among other things in his new role -- that coming into a ninth inning situation can be hard. But the good news for Marlins fans, who unleashed their venom on Lindstrom on the airwaves and on message boards, is that the 29-year old felt like he learned something last night after spending a few extra hours watching himself on video replays. 

"Last night was embarrassing for myself. No excuses. I just didn’t get it done," Lindstrom said from his locker Saturday, making sure to answer every question from reporters (even if all of them pertained to his worst night in baseball). "But I know what I have to do now to have more success -- and that’s mix my pitches better and stop getting behind hitters, giving them a hitter’s count."

"The only real explanation I have [for the wildness] was that is it was tough to harness [the fastball]. I felt good. My release point seemed like it was there. My ball just had an unusual little late life and cut on it. I’d get behind and I’d have to come with strikes. I didn’t utilize my breaking ball enough. I think I started with the four hitter and the first time I threw [the breaking ball] was to the nine guy. I just got to mix my pitches a little better."

For what it's worth, Marlins fans might want to cut Lindstrom a little slack. Friday's outing was just his 13th opportunity in a save situation in his three seasons in the majors. The two home runs he gave up? Before Friday, he'd only surrendered three in 143 appearances. And, this was the Phillies he was pitching against.

The bottomline is his fastball wasn't working and when he tried to throw it for strikes, the Phillies were sitting on it. "There’s probably quite a few pitches I few I wish I could have had back, ones I didn’t throw with quite as much conviction as I would have liked to," Lindstrom said. "The problem was I think I had about six inches of cut on my four seemer. It started in off the middle third and then breaking and [catcher John] Baker would be going like this [extending his arms to catch it]. It was frustrating. Then, I had to kind of ease one in there just to throw a freaking strike. That’s not going to cut it – especially when these guys are timing it."

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he had a talk with Lindstrom before Saturday's game in the weight room. But the talk wasn't about baseball. “This guy has only had 13 opportunities to save games in three years,” Gonzalez said. “You aren’t going to create that ninth inning stuff that goes on in the seventh. The adrenaline, 30,000 people screaming, facing the middle of the lineup. He’s got to feel that and get that.”

Gonzalez said while the option was there Friday to stick with Leo Nunez, who retired the top of the Phillies order 1-2-3 in the eighth, the only thing he was thinking about heading into the ninth was giving Lindstrom (who had five days off between outings) a chance to experience the ninth.

"You can [go with Nunez]," Gonzalez said. "But don’t you want to try and develop your closer? Don't you want to develop a guy whose only had 13 opportunities to save games in three years? You got to develop other pieces. Yeah, you could run Nunez out there. But he’s our guy that we’re going to go to."

Gonzalez said he believes Lindstrom has all the ingredients the Marlins want in a closer. "Stuff wise he's got it. The big arm, 96 miles per hour. His breaking pitch is being developed to be an above average pitch. His two seamer is working," Gonzalez said. "Now, he needs to develop the other stuff that comes with winning games."

September 10, 2008

Loria rips Braman

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria didn’t call it a good day; he said it was a “great day,’’ when Miami Circuit Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen ruled against Norman Braman’s lawsuit against the county, saying the funding for the Marlins ’new ballpark was a “public good.’’

“Braman is from the first century at the time of the Coliseum,’’ Loria said Wednesday. “He probably would have opposed the Coliseum..

“It was a colossal waste of everybody’s time and effort,’’ he said.

July 15, 2008

MLB still optimistic about Marlins ballpark

      Major League Baseball is still optimistic the Marlins – despite the lawsuit filed by Norman Braman against the City of Miami – will get a new ballpark, and MLB president and CEO Bob DuPuy said Tuesday Braman’s claim the Marlins were $150 million in debt was simply not true.

“That statement was flat inaccurate,’’ said DuPuy, who believes the Marlins will survive the suit and eventually get the ballpark built on the Orange Bowl site. Braman is trying to stop the City of Miami’s $3 billion “megaplan,” which includes funding for a new ballpark for the Marlins.

“A few weeks ago I would have told you I was more concerned than I am now, given the judge’s preliminary ruling,’’ DuPuy said. “The lawsuit is an unfortunate delay. It’s one that I think should not have happened. But we do see it as a bump in the road and we remain guardedly optimistic that the commissioners will approve the definitive document and we will get a ballpark done.’’

DuPuy said MLB did not try to approach Braman in the early stages to try to derail the lawsuit.

“No one in baseball to my knowledge spoke directly to Norman Braman, and he didn’t reach out to us. We obviously have spoken with the team and the lawyers and are willing to help, but we have not talked to Norman Braman,’’ DuPuy said. “Nothing I read suggested he had any interest in being persuaded, and it’s obviously a broader attack than just the stadium. It’s on the entire global plan, and that’s local politics.’’

            The lawsuit also is creating a problem with the delay of construction, and even MLB is starting to become worried about the target date of a 2011 opening for the new ballpark.

“Because of the lawsuit that’s (2011) getting tight,’’ DuPuy said.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig, who spoke to the Baseball Writers of America Association Tuesday afternoon, joked when he was asked about Braman’s lawsuit.

“I would like to make a sarcastic remark about Norman Braman, but I won’t,’’ Selig said. “People seem to be reasonably optimistic that this is going to be settled…and it will be a great story.

“We have made some made some major comebacks in areas like Minnesota, but Florida may stand as the ultimate triumph. I’m hopeful that that matter will be resolved.’’

Tampa Bay’s attendance has soared this season because the Rays are winning, but the Marlins, who are only 1 ½ games out of first place, have seen no gains in attendance and are still last in baseball. Many believe there is so much apathy toward the team not even a new ballpark will bring in fans.

DuPuy said MLB has always believed baseball will work in South Florida.

“Because it has historically been a good market for college baseball, and historically been a good market for youth baseball,’’ DuPuy said. “You wonder if the team did too well in winning two world championships as early in their history as they did.

“We believe that solving the climate problem and coming up with a ballpark that is a destination point and having development around the at area will solve the problem,’’ DuPuy said.

“What’s good is the television ratings are very good, which means people are watching the games,’’ he said. “There are fans down there. They’re just not attending the games. We think a roofed facility will induce them to come to the games.

“There’s no team that has that kind of (TV to attendance) ratio. They are unique,” said DuPuy, who could think of only one other similar case in baseball history. “Cleveland was like that back before they got their new ball park. Cleveland was a good baseball market. They had great TV ratings and they didn’t draw flies, and when the new ballpark came they sold out for four years.’’

DuPuy even believes the Marlins fans who live in North Broward and Palm Beach will make the drive to Miami at because the new ballpark will have a roof.

“They will be going against the traffic and they are going to know the game is gong to start at 7 o’clock and they’re going to know the game is going to be over and there’s not going to be a rain delay, and there are going to be restaurants around there, and we’re hoping it will induce people to come to the ballpark,’’ he said.