Kevin Love opens up on The Players Tribune, a Derek Jeter project that is working well

 

You’ve read some stinging criticisms of Derek Jeter in this space from time to time, all of them dealing with his disconnect when it comes to Miami Marlins fans being fed up with the team’s constant teardowns.

I’ll give Jeter credit, however, for recognizing that athletes often have a deeper story to tell but don’t really trust anyone else in the telling of it.

FILE – In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love watches from the bench in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis. Love disclosed in an essay for the Players’ Tribune on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, that he suffered a panic attack on Nov. 5 in a home game against the Atlanta Hawks. He was briefly hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic and the episode left him shaken. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

We’re talking about The Players’ Tribune, a website founded by Jeter in 2014 and expanded since then with videos and podcasts to augment the written content provided by sports celebrities.

The latest buzz created by this site is an essay written by Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love. He reveals that he had a panic attack during a game in November but at first wanted to keep that information from teammates for fear that they would consider him weak.

“Everyone is Going Through Something” is the title of the essay, and in it Love writes “No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside.”

Would a player feel comfortable talking about private reflections and personal issues with a member of the traditional sports media?

Some have, like Ricky Williams, and with full knowledge that they might be misconstrued or ridiculed or marginalized. Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan took all of those risks last month in an interview with the Toronto Star about his ongoing problems with depression.

For most, though, it figures that truly opening up to a reporter in the locker room is way outside the comfort zone.

If you only see that reporter ever now and again, how do you make a connection that is solid and believable? And if that reporter covers the team every day and strikes up something like a friendship with a player there, sooner or later he or she will wind up writing something that offends the athlete because it points out an error made to lose a ballgame or is perceived to be taking the wrong side in a contract negotiation with the team.

Honestly, if I had the blessing of athletic skills worthy of millions of dollars on the open market, it might just be easier to keep spouting clichés in interview settings. That’s pretty much what Jeter did in the high-profile position of New York Yankees captain. He made no enemies that way and he tried, other than what happened on the field, to make no news.

Are these Players’ Tribune essays ghost-written? Surely, in some cases, they are crafted and edited and packaged by people who are writers by profession. Since the athletes approve every presentation before it is published, however, this shouldn’t bother anybody all that much. If it’s a genuine expression of their feelings on a particular matter, they are saying what they want to say.

Not journalism in its strictest sense. More like journal writing, and then passing that journal around the room for anyone who is interested to read.

Jeter is a smart guy to figure all this out. We all need to know each other a little better, and any forum that makes that possible is a benefit.

[Jim Kelly astonished a Boca Raton crowd with his courageous story]

[Marlins’ inaugural spring training 25 years ago was a Space Coast blast]

[Wade’s return strikes every emotional touchstone for Heat fans]

Where was Derek Jeter 25 years ago when his new Marlins team was born?

 

The Miami Marlins are making a big PR effort during their current teardown mode to celebrate the franchise’s 25th year with a special teal logo and with the promise of $4 seats and throwback uniforms during a special June 8-10 series against the San Diego Padres.

So what was Derek Jeter doing 25 years ago, and how strange would it have been to imagine him running the Marlins’ show in 2018?

Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter leaves Major League Baseball owners meetings at the Four Seasons Hotel, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Turns out The Captain was 19 years old and playing in North Carolina with the Greensboro Hornets of the Class-A South Atlantic League. Gary Denbo was his manager there, just as was when Jeter broke into pro ball with the Yankee’s Gulf Coast League rookie team in Tampa.

The Marlins wouldn’t have been on Jeter’s mind back then. He only had eyes for Yankee Stadium and, as everybody knew, he would make it soon enough. Five times he won World Series titles with the Yankees and once, in 2000, he was the World Series MVP.

Crazy to think that his first try as a baseball executive would come with the Marlins, but the old ties are still strong. When Jeter traded away Giancarlo Stanton, Miami’s homegrown star and the biggest slugger in the majors, it was to the Yankees.

Denbo is back in the picture, too, as Jeter’s Director of Player Development and Scouting in Miami.

All those nostalgic connections to the old Marlins, 25 years in the making, actually seem a bit of a stretch these days than a continuation of something special. This is Jeter’s life and these are Jeter’s Marlins. Welcome to a new world of baseball in South Florida, starting all over again.

[There was a time when Miami Heat, gulp, played in NBA’s Western Conference]

[Please, NFL, takes us back to the days when a catch was a catch]

[Eagles went from losers to champions in one year, but what about Miami?]

 

Derek Jeter apparently missed the memo on how fed up Marlins fans are with fire sales

 

With Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the same lineup, every day will be Home Run Derby for the New York Yankees.

It’s an excess of riches for Derek Jeter’s old team. And his new one? An excess of prospects, building toward some grand plan that Jeter, part-owner and top baseball executive of the Miami Marlins, has thus far failed to articulate.

New Yankee Giancarlo Stanton answers questions during a press conference at the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

The optics are not good here, trading away the franchise’s home-grown NL Most Valuable Player. Some of the worst ever, actually.

Even Jeffrey Loria, the owner everyone wanted to ride out of town on a rail, got off to a better start than this when he bought the Marlins from John Henry in 2002.

Forget for a moment that Loria basically had the team handed to him in an orchestrated deal that sold his floundering Montreal Expos to Major League Baseball first. Forget it because fans care far less about the financial underpinnings of any franchise than they do about the players they buy tickets to see.

In that respect Loria and his general manager, Larry Beinfest, got busy in a hurry on a set of transactions that were far more popular and beneficial to the team’s roster than anything Jeter has done or will do over the next few years.

Tim Raines, a good clubhouse guy and a future Hall of Famer, instantly came aboard as a low-cost free agent at the end of his career. Everybody loved “Rock,” whether he played a lot or not, so no harm there.

Next came a spring-training trade that sent Antonio Alfonseca, a flighty and overweight closer, to the Cubs in a package that got the Marlins an interesting young pitching prospect named Dontrelle Willis. The D-Train was on the verge of a breakout, from minor leaguer in 2002 to NL Rookie of the Year in 2003, so that worked, too. It was all part of a quiet rollout in which the Marlins improved from 76 wins to 79, with Loria making signs that he meant to compete for something.

In Loria’s second season he shifted into a different gear altogether, trading away Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson in a deal that brought Juan Pierre, a great leadoff hitter, to the Marlins.

Next came the free-agent signing of catcher Ivan Rodriguez for $10 million, which was more than one-fifth of the team payroll at the time. Pudge, a future Hall of Famer, was exactly what the Marlins needed to get the most out of a staff of kid pitchers who themselves would go on to be stars.

In May Loria showed his impetuous side, firing manager Jeff Torborg and replacing him with the ancient Jack McKeon. Nobody knew quite what to make of that, and the sale of Kevin Millar to the Red Sox was a puzzler, too, but then came the moves that really proved Loria wanted to win the World Series as soon as possible.

In July the Marlins got a top closer, Ugueth Urbina, in a trade, and in August Jeff Conine, a Marlins favorite who was lost in an earlier Wayne Huizenga fire sale, returned to the team by trade as well. The pieces were then in place for a World Series upset of the Yankees, with a mix of veterans and young stars developed in what was then recognized as a strong farm system.

No matter what anybody thinks of Loria now, at least he came into this thing with the idea that the Marlins should strive to be the best and South Florida fans should know that.

So far, the only things this market knows about Jeter are bad. He won’t care about winning for a while, it’s clear. He believes there is time for a rebuild because he is new to this project. Poor guy. He doesn’t realize that new projects are old news around here. Finished projects are what we crave.

I’m not telling you to love Jeffrey Loria. It seems, though, that he at least cared about first impressions as the owner of the Marlins.

Jeter figures he has already made his first impression, the only one he’ll ever need to make, by being one of the greatest players in Yankees history. That was a different time in his life, though, and this job of empire-building, the one that even George Steinbrenner struggled to master, does not come so naturally to him.

[A dream night for Jakeem, but not without familiar frustrations]

[It’s OK to start wondering if Tiger will return to Honda Classic]

[Before Richt was available, UM interviewed Schiano and Mullen]

Is it possible that Derek Jeter has rarely even seen the Marlins play a game?

Derek Jeter didn’t say much in his introductory Miami Marlins press conference that we didn’t already know, except for this strange tidbit.

Last Sunday’s regular-season finale at Marlins Park was the first time since his high school days that Jeter has watched a baseball game from the stands or an executive suite or anywhere else but the dugout. That’s what he said, anyway.

Derek Jeter at his first press conference as Miami Marlins chief executive on Oct. 3, 2017. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

Fairly amazing, but it goes right along with an anecdote from Tom Verducci’s book “The Yankee Years,” in which Alex Rodriguez visits Derek’s New York apartment and is stunned to learn that the Yankees captain did not have the MLB TV package.

“Derek will never watch a baseball game other than the one he’s playing in,” said Mike Borzello, the Yankees’ former bullpen catcher.

Not a World Series game? Not a World Baseball Classic game? Not a Little League game? Nothing?

That’s almost certainly an exaggeration, but the whole concept is just plain weird, especially for a guy who is running a major league baseball franchise now.

What would you think if Tom Cruise decided to produce a major-studio film and it was revealed that he had never watched a movie unless he starred in it.

What about a famous painter who announced that he had never set foot inside an art museum unless his own exhibit was being featured and he was being paid to be there?

Or a politician who said that he very rarely voted, and when he did it was only for himself.

It’s a mixed signal at best when a person at the top of their industry fails to show the same high level of interest in its widespread trends and development as the average citizen does.

There are a lot of Jeter fans out there, and with good reason, but anyone would agree that any other baseball CEO who admitted he rarely watches the game would be looked at with a very skeptical eye.

This new era of Marlins ownership may turn out to be a whole different kind of adventure, with a famous boss that we still really don’t know all that well, even after 20 years in the celebrity limelight.

[Dolphins needed Timmons back more than they needed to punish him]

[Wildest think about Giancarlo Stanton’s big season is that he batted second]

[Get to know LB coach who is charged with patching Dolphins’ sorest spot]

 

Is there anything with this revocable waivers thing to worry about with Giancarlo Stanton?

 

I’m not enough of a seamhead to know everything there is to know about revocable waivers but if the Miami Marlins just ran Giancarlo Stanton through that process over the weekend and he went unclaimed, as reported by Yahoo Sports, it’s time to dig in.

As explained by the MLB Daily Dish website, “In August, tons of players throughout the league are placed on revocable trade waivers, in many cases for clubs to gauge value of their players and in some rare cases, because clubs are actually interested in making waiver-wire deals.”

MIAMI – Giancarlo Stanton breaks the Miami Marlins’ season home run record as he hits his 43rd of the season against the San Francisco Giants on Monday night. (Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS)

My interpretation: Generally speaking it’s no big deal for a player to be placed on revocable waivers in August. Happens all the time. This, however, makes Stanton eligible to be traded to any team now, and since the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter group just signed an agreement to purchase the team from Jeffrey Loria, you have to assume that Jeter is the one who wants to discover all the possibilities.

Stanton is owed $295 million between 2018 and 2027. Surely Jeter’s group and Loria talked about that during negotiations to buy the team at the reported price of $1.2 billion. The franchise and its new owners can either build around Stanton or start a new long-range plan with greater freedom to spread money in other directions.

Stanton’s on a career-best roll, too, with an all-time high trade value. Going into Tuesday night’s game against the Giants, he had homered in five consecutive games, setting a franchise season record of 43 in the process. In August alone Stanton has 10 homers, more than three teams (the Phillies, Pirates and Rays) have managed to pile up. He also went into Tuesday’s action with 22 homers in the space of 34 games, a pace that hasn’t been seen since Shawn Green of the Dodgers matched it in 2002.

Now, about the “revocable” part of the waivers process, which Stanton reportedly cleared on Sunday.

Other teams have 48 hours to make a claim on a player who has been placed on revocable waivers. The teams at the bottom of the standings get first priority if there are multiple claims.

At this point, a trade can be worked out, or the original team may pull the player back off waivers and everything returns to normal.

Or, as explained by MLB Daily Dish, “the team can simply award the player to the priority claiming team, with the claiming team taking on the rest of the player’s contract and immediately acquiring him.”

My interpretation: If some other team was willing to take Stanton’s contract or any significant chunk of it off the Marlins’ books, it would have been tempting for Jeter to approve that. Sounds like a horrible PR move for the new group, of course, in terms of dumping the Marlins’ best player in the midst of an incredible home-run barrage, but Loria still owns the team and fans are already inclined to blame him for everything.

Either way, since Stanton was not claimed, the new ownership group has a better idea of which teams are interested enough, and wealthy enough, to make a call and seriously discuss the situation when it comes to Miami’s young superstar.

[Pahokee’s Anquan Boldin will have a strong influence on Buffalo Bills]

[Two places in America where there is nothing but love for Jay Cutler]

[Any legendary story you hear about Vince Wilfork is probably true]

The Detroit Tigers just went on a fact-finding mission with second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was placed on revocable waivers and was claimed by another unknown team. Since no deal was worked out within the 48-hour waiver period, Kinsler stays with the Tigers. Maybe he gets traded in the offseason or next summer or maybe nothing ever happens with Kinsler but Detroit has more information about his market value at this point and that is important to them.

With Stanton, who has a no-trade clause, it remains possible that he could be traded away by the end of August if there is somewhere he agrees to go and some team rich enough to assume his contract. After that it makes no sense because players have to be with a contending team by Sept. 1 in order to make the postseason roster.

Bottom line, I don’t think Stanton is going anywhere right now, but it’s no surprise that Loria’s guys are looking around to see what is possible, and that Jeter is eager to see what they find out.

The Marlins need to build everything over, from the farm system up. If Jeter is soon to be in charge of both the business and the baseball side of this operation, Stanton is the key to every blueprint that must be reviewed and approved over the next decade.

 

 

 

 

A Marlins sale prior to All-Star Game is just too neat and tidy to feel true any more

The All-Star Game at Marlins Park is sneaking up fast now, with barely more than five weeks to go before the annual exhibition between National League and American League stars, plus the Home Run Derby and all the rest, brings baseball’s spotlight to Miami.

How sweet it would be to have a new ownership announcement for Jeffrey Loria’s franchise by then but I’m losing hope with each new headline on the topic.

 

2016 Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaking at a rally in Summerville, S.C. Former Florida Gov. Bush is no longer interested in buying the Miami Marlins and has ended his pursuit of the team, a person close to the negotiations said Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Jeb Bush has dropped his name from the potential ownership group featuring Derek Jeter. That supposedly would breathe new life into the bid led by Tagg Romney, the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but his group reportedly is growing frustrated with the process and might step away.

Already a group led by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has come and gone as a potential Marlins buyer. Politics ultimately got in the way. Hey, it’s 2017. What else would get in the way?

So it would be a real surprise now to get this clog unstuck in time for the July 9 All-Star Legends & Celebrities Softball game, or the July 10 Home Run Derby or the July 11 All-Star game.

Major League Baseball has too much to study with the financials of the bidding groups, and Loria won’t rush through negotiations. There is a lot at stake for him here and, characteristically, he will want it all to go his way.

Makes you wonder what all was discussed before Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, then just three weeks into the job, announced that the Marlins would be All-Star hosts.

The bones of that deal surely were knitted together under former commissioner Bud Selig, who had a system of rewarding franchises with new stadiums to show off. Manfred surely is interested in a fresh start in Miami, for the good of baseball, for the good of the community’s trust in the game. If Loria gave any hints that he might be looking to sell soon, perhaps even making the 2017 All-Star game his final big moment as owner, that wouldn’t have hurt the bid and probably would have helped.

“It was time for baseball to recognized and pay back South Florida for what they did in building this stadium,” Manfred said on Feb. 13, 2016, the day MLB officially awarded the All-Star Game to Miami.

Fair enough, but when MLB took the 2000 All-Star Game away from Miami and awarded it to Atlanta instead, it was a punishment for the World Series fire sale of former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga and the ongoing uncertainty about the franchise’s future. South Florida fans were farther down the list of priorities.

Here is what Loria said on the day of the All-Star announcement more than two years ago. He patted himself on the back. He sold once more the idea that nobody understands his motivations or appreciates the sacrifices he makes.

“It’s baseball’s recognition that you’re doing good things,” Loria said. “They awarded it to us. We didn’t go and buy it.

“You don’t get to the top unless you have ups and downs. You have to take the criticism and take the good with the bad. I’m still here, and I’m still here, and I’m still here because I believed in what we were doing along the way. We changed a lot of things. I took a lot of criticism for what I called pushing the reset button, but if I didn’t push that damn reset button, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Well, I’m still here believing that Loria will pass on his team to another owner at a huge profit when he is good and ready. The change won’t be as easy as everyone wants it to be, and it won’t be swift.

[Predicting Warriors in six games, and not even LeBron can stop it]

[Who but a NASCAR driver would push an SUV up to 230 mph?]

[LeBron’s NBA greatness was predicted on the day he left high school]

Meanwhile, let the criticism come. Loria has something that other people want. It’s a heady feeling, and one that will only grow stronger in the weeks growing up to the All-Star Game.

It’s sneaking up fast now, and the notion of some new owner taking the bows during All-Star weekend just doesn’t seem to be in the cards any more.