Tommy Hutton spent 19 years as a TV analyst for the Miami Marlins. He didn't make it to 20 because the team fired him earlier this week, and reporter Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald seems to have found out why.
The team, from the front office down to players on the field, considered Hutton to be too negative:
Hutton said there have been only three incidents in recent years in which a Marlins employee expressed discomfort with something he said. Hutton relayed all three --- and nothing he said seemed out of line or inappropriate --- but he was willing to discuss only one of the three on the record.
That one involved former Marlins catcher John Buck. When Buck flied out to the deepest part of Marlins Park to end a game, Hutton shouted “in any other park!” --- meaning the ball would have been a home run in a stadium with more hitter-friendly dimensions.
He said a Marlins vice president called him after the game and said that owner Jeffrey Loria prefer he not mention the ballpark’s dimensions.
“Did I complain about the park being too big? Yeah,” Hutton said, noting the dimensions are being changed this off-season. “But if that was the reason, they knew that the day after the season. I didn’t say anything negative the last six weeks.”
Hutton said no player ever complained to him, but if anyone had a complaint, he made himself visible.
“I was always in the clubhouse and on the field,” he said. “I know a lot of announcers who just go to the booth.”
Andy Slater, a radio reporter in Miami who has been on the Hutton story and other Marlins issues, has indicated that players did lodge complaints against Hutton:
Via multiple sources, I was told this past Marlins season was the absolute worst when it came to complaints.
After games, on numerous occasions throughout the season, players would go up to team PR staff and owner Jeffrey Loria complaining about what Hutton said during the telecast.
"Players would have their wife, girlfriend, family member, and even friends texting them things Tommy said," another source added.
There were also certain incidents where Loria wasn't happy with Hutton. Loria didn't like it when Hutton would talk too much about another team's player, another source told me. "Anytime (Hutton) would bring up a ballpark flaw, Loria would be very upset," the source said.
The complaints against Hutton happened at Marlins Park, on the road, and even on the team plane, I was told.
It's one of the oldest stories in baseball; as long as there have been TV and radio reporters who dare speak their minds on a game broadcast, there have been players, coaches and executives with rabbit ears listening for the slightest slight.
The Marlins have averaged nearly 92 losses over the past five seasons. Loria has gone through six managers in that span, with Don Mattingly set to begin his first season in spring training. The organization has been dysfunctional from top to bottom, and if Hutton is the least bit honest about his job, the team's failures would be reflected in the broadcast.
Apparently, he was too honest.