Close but no agreement
Yet another twist in the nightmarish negotiations between MLB owners and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association. Turns out that commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA head Tony Clark had different interpretations of their face-to-face meeting earlier this week. The owners were already patting themselves on the back for generously green-lighting a 60-game regular season, unprepared for the union to counter-offer with 70 games, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Long story short, both sides are targeting a potential Opening Day that’s only one month away (July 19). There will need to be a compromise by the conclusion of this weekend to make that feasible. I am—perhaps naively—optimistic about that happening, but it’s now abundantly clear that these guys hate each other’s guts, which doesn’t bode well for sorting out the new MLB collective bargaining agreement following the 2021 season.
Jeff Torborg was the first manager to serve under Samson and Jeffrey Loria when they took over the Marlins in 2002. Loria already had a friendship with Torborg and would’ve named him the new Montreal Expos manager if Loria had remained owner of that franchise. Samson found those circumstances to be very problematic:
“The negotiation with Torborg was an absolute nightmare because Jim Beattie and I and Larry Beinfest were doing it, and (Loria) was in our ear saying, ‘Whatever he wants, he’s getting because he’s gonna be the manager.’
“It wasn’t an interview process: it was a coronation. And Jeff Torborg knew it. When you give power to an already ego-infested guy, it’s gonna be a nightmare.”
Torborg insisted that the Fish hire not one but two of his sons to fill key positions within the organization. Samson jokes that while he endorses nepotism—after all, Loria was his stepfather—both these individuals weren’t qualified.
Shortly before the start of the 2002 regular season, the Marlins traded veteran arms Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement to the Cubs for a package of Julián Tavárez, José Cueto, Ryan Jorgensen and unheralded left-hander Dontrelle Willis. Torborg was insulted to see them prioritizing trimming payroll over being competitive. His relationship with Samson deteriorated from there. Torborg “physically went after (Samson)” in the clubhouse later that season, Samson says (he was restrained before any punches were thrown).
Torborg’s Marlins went 79-83 in ‘02. He was fired when they began the following season 16-22, replaced by Jack McKeon and the rest is history. Samson: “I’ve never said a word to him since.”
NPB is back
The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans penned a thorough primer on the 2020 Nippon Professional Baseball season which began Friday night in Japan. NPB is widely regarded as the top non-MLB baseball league in the world.
- Friday is Juneteenth, and fittingly, MLB Network will air MLB Tonight: A Conversation at 5:30 p.m. ET covering “the issues around racial injustice and inequality in society and baseball.” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter is participating.
- Our partners at BreakingT have made the MLBPA’s “When & Where” rallying cry into a high-quality t-shirt. If you’re eager for the league to return, order yours here.
- In the absence of MiLB games, Bragan Field at the 121 Financial Ballpark—home of the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp—is hosting a Father’s Day cookout on Sunday afternoon ($10 per person).
- The Marlins fanbase has a particularly strong affinity for sports betting.
- Michael Hill joins FOX Sports Florida’s Jessica Blaylock on Marlins All-Access at Home to discuss a variety of topics.
- Thursday was National Mascot Day, so I cobbled together some of my favorite Billy the Marlin clips reminiscing on his “career” with the team. Please make sure to subscribe to the Fish Stripes YouTube channel!