Mr. Marlin says that Derek Jeter and the rest of the South Florida baseball team’s new ownership group has their work cut out when it comes to both winning over the Miami fan base and addressing the future of slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
“Being involved with this franchise the last 20 years, there are challenges that the Marlins face in this market. It’s an awful time to think Giancarlo might leave. But you’ve got to realize this is a business. Jeter and (business partner Bruce) Sherman just bought the Marlins for $ 1.2 billion, so they’re going to want to see a return on their investment. You can’t let costs keep going out of control or you’ll never realize that return on the investment,” said Jeff Conine, the former Marlins special assistant to the team president who turned down an opportunity to stay with the club when Jeter reportedly offered a diminished role and lower pay.
“There’s a decent fan base. You just need to get them to come to the ball park and watch games. It’s a challenge to get them engaged. Marlins Park is a beautiful facility, but fans are all transplants. When we play the Mets we’re almost a visiting team. Same with the Phillies and Braves,” said Conine.
Conine and David Samson, the former Marlins president, both parted ways with the team, and while Conine told the Miami Herald he was “disappointed” with the way things ended, Samson said he has “great respect for Derek” and holds no ill will toward the new regime. Samson added that Jeter has “surrounded himself with talented people,” and that the key will be putting a winning product on the field – whether that includes Stanton or not.
(J. PAT CARTER/AP)
“We drafted Stanton, watched him develop, and thought he would become a star. He’s a fascinating individual. Any Major League Baseball team would be really lucky to have him,” said Samson, although Stanton’s gargantuan contract – 10 years remaining and $ 295 million guaranteed — is a huge commitment to absorb. “If baseball were smart, they would work with (Stanton) to make him be the face of the sport.”
Both Conine, who won two World Series rings with the Marlins, and Samson have a bigger challenge to face in the immediate future: completing the World Marathon Challenge, which begins in January in Antarctica and entails running seven marathons in seven days, with each race on a different continent. The extreme distance event supports multiple charitable causes, including “Conine’s Clubhouse,” a Florida housing facility where families can stay for free while their children are treated at adjacent Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
“My wife thinks I’m crazy, my kids think I’m crazy,” said Conine of entering the race. “Try to grind out mileage on a daily basis and get the body acclimated to that kind of punishment.”
Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter hold their first press conference as Miami Marlins owners.
“We’re in the dog days of training,” added Samson. “Just ask my quads.”
Conine and Samson, however, hope to cross the finish in Miami, site of the final race, even if they are crawling at that stage.
“I usually don’t get nervous about stuff until it happens,” said Conine. “Flying over Antarctica, I will get the butterflies. But mentally I signed up, and I’m planning on finishing.”