|Logan Morrison has had his problems in the outfield, but bad enough to merit a demotion? (Getty Images)|
SAN DIEGO -- Saw a television ad for the new Marlins stadium the other day, but it was just surface stuff. Had to be.
Nothing was said about the new park coming with whoopee cushions. Surely, with owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson running the show, whoopee cushions and elephants will be plentiful. The Barnum & Bailey of baseball men, Loria and Samson can turn a simple grocery store balloon bouquet into a circus.
From bamboozling South Florida taxpayers to obtain a new stadium to blacklisting reporters who are not sympathetic to their cause, these two are among the game's biggest boobs. Rarely is an assignment as enjoyable as cuffing them, which is where I was headed after the Saturday Night Massacre last week in which the Marlins shipped Logan Morrison back to Triple-A.
But this time, I can't.
I mean, I can still dump on Loria and Samson. With pleasure.
But not for the club's shocking move in demoting Morrison. Things just aren't that black and white.
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See, I thought it was outrageous, too. I mean, the guy popped for 26 RBI in July, tied for the major-league lead. His .791 OPS ranks third on the Marlins. He has slammed 17 home runs (second on the team) and collected 60 RBI (third on the team). He's a fan favorite.
As a rule, the Marlins draw more flies than fans, and this is the guy they choose to punish for having an overly active Twitter account?
Here's one thing I've noticed, though: Since last weekend, not one Marlin has stepped forward to stick up for Morrison. Making my way through the Florida clubhouse Thursday, I couldn't find one player to call out the club.
And let me tell you my experience with the Marlins: In the past, I've had players volunteer their cell phone numbers, so excited were they to learn I was sharpening my knives for another go at Loria and Samson.
"I'm not even going to talk about [Morrison]," first baseman Gaby Sanchez said. "It's been going on too long already. We're trying to look forward."
"As a teammate of his, you only hope he handles this in a professional manner and takes the positive out of it and uses it as motivation to get better," infielder Greg Dobbs said.
"I tried to help the kid out on the baseball field," veteran outfielder Mike Cameron said. "The other things are some things he's going to have to learn to balance along with being a big-league ballplayer. ...
"I've got four kids of my own. I don't got time to be worrying about anybody else's kids."
Though the popular narrative has Morrison in Triple-A New Orleans largely because the Marlins didn't think he was as Twitter-licious as everyone else, that's only part of the story. Multiple sources describe a growing number of brushfires adding up to one large blaze, the final flashpoint coming last Saturday when Morrison refused to attend a mandatory club function with season-ticket holders.
A couple of days earlier, he canceled a charity bowling tournament when he didn't think the Marlins' community relations department had sold enough lanes. He ripped the club for firing hitting coach John Mallee in June. He got into it with Hanley Ramirez over whether the All-Star shortstop was late one day.
He became angry when he learned that the club was selling his broken bats, another source said (the Marlins, like many clubs, sell their players' broken bats to raise money for charity).
In short, as one Marlin put it, Morrison was behaving like a superstar before he even had become a star.
The club wants to see more maturity, and improvement in both his .249 batting average and in his defense. That's legitimate.
Except, as they usually do, the Marlins handled it very poorly.
Could they have warned Morrison before pulling the trap door from underneath him? Yes.
Plus, two summers ago, then-manager Fredi Gonzalez benched Ramirez when his petulant shortstop failed to hustle, a situation Gonzalez handled beautifully. What the manager got in return a few weeks later was a pink slip.
Now comes Morrison, who leaves it all out on the field, a good young player who should be a key to Florida's future, and the Marlins slap him down?
Loria and Co. have created a monster with Ramirez. The guy does whatever he wants, without consequences. All who have crossed him in recent years have been dispatched: Gonzalez, Dan Uggla, Wes Helms and Morrison.
Morrison's misfortune is that he has nowhere near Ramirez's résumé (three All-Star appearances, a batting title, two Silver Slugger awards, led the NL in runs scored in 2008, etc.).
Ramirez is such a great talent that even in this, a bitterly disappointing year (.243, 10 home runs, 45 RBI in 92 games) in which he currently is on the disabled list with a bad shoulder, the Marlins are 50-39 when he plays, 7-28 when he doesn't.
The twist through the controversy is, Morrison might return before Ramirez. Hanley's shoulder continues to bark. Morrison is determined to play hard and not pout in New Orleans and might return even before the Sept. 1 roster expansion date.
Last Saturday night, Morrison tweeted: "A bend in the road isn't the end of the road ... unless u fail 2 make the turn."
The guess here is that Morrison will make that turn. And Loria and Samson, who two winters ago were hammered by the players' union for violating revenue-sharing agreements, will continue to run off talented people (ex-manager Joe Girardi went on to win a World Series for the Yankees, Gonzalez's Braves are some 15 games ahead of Florida in the NL East).
"He's a good kid, a hard-working kid," says Marlins manager Jack McKeon, who refuses to elaborate much more on the Morrison affair. "He's got to realize there's a lot to this game. He has to improve his overall game. And I know he will."