Miami heat on Florida state sports teams to win

Oct 30, 2012 3:00 AM

Miami Herald sports columnist, Christine Brennan took a front page look back at the 2012 Miami Marlins, actions of owner Jeffrey Loria, and the impact of their new stadium. It was not a pretty sight.

She attributed much of the team’s shortcomings to the considerable ego of Loria and even went so far to compare his style to the BOSS (the late George Steinbrenner) who he is said to admire.

Projected to be a playoff contender, the team’s personnel decisions are all directed by Loria and not by baseball brains on staff: Hurried, impulsive, uneducated, under researched and too expensive. The names Heath Bell, Hanley Ramirez and John Buck were busts. Projected “ace” Josh Johnson never caught fire. Logan Morrison and Emilio Bonifacio, hurt most of the year, are no longer on the roster.

The clubhouse was divided and paranoid. By unloading in midyear stars Anibal Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante, and Bell right after the season ended, coupled with the earlier departures of superstar Miguel “Triple Crown” Cabrera, and potential superstar Dontrelle Willis added to the paranoia.

The new downtown Miami Stadium met with mixed reviews. Fences were too deep with only one slugger. Grass was patchy and uneven. There was a flawed sound system and temperature fluctuation. Fans from Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach had a long way to travel.

Promised retail space was empty. A domed roof did equal no more rainouts or delays, good sight lines, comfortable seating, decent food plus interesting art and design within. The Elias Bureau did label the venue as the worst attended new stadium in baseball ever.

Bad team meant lowered revenues. There’s no fan loyalty in South Florida. When the team was competitive the TV audience on FSN Florida was solid, but fell off rapidly after “the trade.”

Drizzle in always controversial Ozzie Guillen, and voila: a dysfunctional franchise that doesn’t know where it is going. Now Ozzie has been sent packing . Former Marlins player Mike Redmond is a leading candidate. With only Jose Reyes and slugger Giancarlo Stanton as team stars, the future is uncertain. If Loria throws another $200 million at the lineup and lets the baseball people decide talent, perhaps a quick turnaround is possible.

The Heat dominate the sports news sections easily matching the Miami Dolphins for air time on the radio talk shows. Fan attention is turning. With multi future NBA championships in sight, courtesy Flash and Slash, they are the reigning water cooler chatter champ.

The Dolphins brand is waning even as Joe Philbin’s version shows considerable improvement. After 10 mediocre years The U still doesn’t compete at the top of the ACC let alone vs. the K-State’s, Golden Domers, Tar Heels and Seminoles. Sun Life Stadium is typically half full except for the FSU game. When the NCAA sanctions set in shortly, the program will be back to where it was pre-Butch Davis.

NHL’s Panthers gained momentum among the fans and press after last year’s post season appearance, but may not be an issue after the lockout.

On the second tier of sports affections in the South Florida market, the FIU Golden Panthers have laid a gigantic egg. After being touted a potential top 25 football program, FIU is struggling badly. Attendance lags. FAU in Boca cannot match the success that Howard Schnellenberger brought the program.

Jim Laranaga in his second year at the helm of the U hoops may have turned the corner. Sources claim his new recruits are buying into his unique style and may elevate the team into the upper tier of the ACC. UM hoops was relevant briefly under Leonard Hamilton and Frank Haith.

The U’s track and field, soccer, baseball, volleyball and tennis teams are all championship level year to year but, with the football team’s lack of appearances in a major ($$$$) bowl game, those sports futures are iffy.

After several years of uncommon silence, the Muschampions are bringing the Gainesville fans from Florida back to the mothership. With both UCF and USF having mediocre seasons it appears the Swampers will be the big football winner in the State and possibly the nation.

Always a front running town, where attendance equals the W/L record, the owners: Loria, Ross, Arison, Shalala know a loser on the field/court/ice means trouble at the box office.

Florida News

• Enigma Research, an independent Orlando based audit company issued a report that Miami Dade and Broward County generated more than $100 million from last April’s Wrestlemania.

• Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Arena was chosen to host the opening round of the Davis Cup match between US and Brazil Feb 1-3, 2013.

• From the Minnesota Twins spring training home in Fort Myers comes news that Jim Rantz, minor league director of operations, will retire at 75. He has directed six minor league teams including the entire Single A Fort Myers Miracle’s 21 seasons since the Twins birth in 1961.

• Here’s an unexpected turn: the NFL chose Miami as finalist for the 2016 or 2017 Super Bowl. However, NFL sources insinuated that further upgrades (a dome) would be required. This is yet another ploy by the league and the team to get taxpayers to pony up. The idea was floated by the Dolphins following the Peyton Manning Floodball Super Bowl several years ago. The league is holding a new roof as hostage for the big game.

• Clearwater is the latest Florida burb to host a proliferation of internet cafes. Virtually unregulated and appealing to elderly players, there are over 1,000 “cafes” mainly in strip malls in the state. Clearwater went from one to three in a year. Sheriffs are virtually powerless to control this perceived illegal gaming activity. The cost to hire competent legal experts to prove the unlawful gaming is impossible for most rural counties. Game, set, match.

Baird Thompson and William Hutchinson bring a combined 80 years of gaming marketing and administration experience to Gaming Today. Contact them at [email protected].

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