Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Marlins Stunning Start

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What a difference an off-season makes.

To say that I was surprised that former GM Kim Ng leaving the organization turned out to be a major a major understatement. 

The team just came off an 84-78 record which landed them an NL Wild Card Berth, but owner Bruce Sherman elected to restructure the front office, and she’d have no part of it. The Marlins hired Peter Bendix to lead their baseball operation from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Last season, Miami was 33-14 (.702) in one-run games. With all the stats in baseball, this is the one that you can gauge a successful year because the main reason is attributed to the bullpen doing its job especially in the late innings.

Going into the season, the Marlins knew they would be without the services of Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara. But there would be more injuries to come on the pitching staff with the most impactful one coming to Eury Perez, who will also miss the 2024 campaign.

A couple notable subtractions from this years roster include slugger Jorge Solar, who departed as a free agent to the San Francisco Giants, and the Fish traded speedy infielder Jon Berti to the New York Yankees before Opening Day.

The Marlins opening week couldn’t have started any worse. 

They were swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a four-game series during Opening Day Weekend, then the Los Angeles Angels tacked on three more losses leaving the Fish with a franchise record 0-7 start. 

For Pittsburgh, the four-game opening weekend sweep was the first time they had accomplished this since 1903.

There is nothing worse than starting out 0-7 and sending your fans a message that this could be a tough season. Miami put themselves in the record for all the wrong reasons as the Marlins became the first team in MLB History to start 0-7 coming off a playoff year.

With that said, how long would that losing streak continue as Miami hit the road to face the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees?

It would reach 0-9 and on Sunday, April 7, the Marlins would finally get a “W” thanks to Jazz Chisholm and Nick Gordon Jr. who hit three-run homers in a six-run first inning as they trounced the St. Louis Cardinals 10-3.

Miami had been the first team to start 0-9 since Atlanta and Minnesota in 2016. The Marlins avoided becoming the first team to lose its first 10 games since the 2002 Chicago White Sox began 0-11.

Their stopper in this game was Max Meyer (1-0), a 25-year old right-hander, who got his first major league win in his fourth start and appearance. 

Meyer allowed one-run and three hits in six innings, striking out three and walking one. 

He had Tommy John Surgery on August 9, 2022 and returned to the mound on April 1, when he pitched five innings without a decision against the Los Angeles Angels. Meyer retired his first 13 batters.

With this streak lifted off of their shoulders, it was time to travel to the Bronx for a three-game series with the New York Yankees.

Things didn’t start out well for Miami as the Marlins dropped back-to-back decisions by 7-0 and 3-2 scores. 

But on Wednesday Night, Miami took a 5-2 win back to South Florida as it got a much needed day off on Thursday as they’ll host the Atlanta Braves this weekend.

The game we attended was the finale against Pittsburgh on March 31, 2024 as the Marlins jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the Pirates scoring all of the runs in the first inning. Chisholm hit a grand-slam homer. Trevor Rogers pitched five solid innings, giving up seven hits and striking out six.

But things would go down hill from there as the bullpen was unable to hold the lead and the Marlins lost 9-7 in 10 innings.

By no means this isn’t the time of the year to play the blame game yet. 

The Marlins did void the club option on Manager Skip Schumaker for the 2025 season as it was reported that he was upset with the departure of Ng. Time will tell if management will let him continue to pilot the club if the team continues to lose.

On Monday’s edition of 108 Stitches, Baseball Talk which you’re going to find in this story, one of my analysts Mark Maradei offered some insights about the Marlins slow start. You’re going to find his comments to be very insightful.

To say this weekend’s series vs division rival Atlanta is important is once again a major understatement, especially since Miami went winless in the opening home stand. For the Marlins, they’re 0-7 at Loan Depot Park. The last thing they want is another long streak lingering over them. But that’s where we’re at.

After Atlanta, the San Francisco Giants come to town. So we’ll find out whether this home stand provides good home cooking or time to continue the head scratching early in this campaign.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. You can follow him on X @TribuneSouth and to see his broadcasts, Subscribe to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

Finally, Scott’s book “Lessons From The Microphone” can be purchased at Amazon, Kindle and Barnes & Noble.


Sunday, April 7, 2024

A New First For This Media Man

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

In a year where everything I write is likely heading to the second part of “Lessons From The Microphone,” what happened on Saturday April 6, 2024 at Chase Stadium was a First For Me.

During the pandemic in 2020, when I started covering the Miami Marlins, I used to kick myself in the rear-end because I regretted not taking Spanish in High School or College. The Media Availability was broken down into two parts, English and Spanish.

I’m thinking, geez, how much good information am I missing because I don’t understand Spanish?

Well if I had another reason to satirize myself for this very reason, then my return to covering Inter-Miami Football Club of MLS topped the Marlins act. It wasn’t even close to the first time.

It’s one thing to be shut out because there isn’t enough time to ask the newsmaker a question. 

On this night, I was shut out for a much different reason. 

Senior Manager of Communications Rafael Cabrera is one of the fairest people that I’ve ever worked with. 

Due to medical reasons, I wasn’t around this team but what made my return on April 6th, Cabrera and VP of Communications Molly Dreska welcomed Myself and photographer Candy Ebling back with open arms. It’s always nice to be where you are wanted!

What has changed since I covered the team?

There has been a lot of roster turnover, a coaching change and more importantly, Inter-Miami landed Soccer Legend Lionel Messi. 

They’re able to charge their fans more money because of this generational player. They’re making a lot of money off concessions and merchandise sales. The team will be moving into their new soccer specific stadium that holds 25,000 in Miami at the start of the 2025 season. Also, landing Chase as a sponsor is huge.

Messi made his return to the line-up after spending time on the injured list due to a hamstring injury.

He made his return during the second half vs the Colorado Rapids, a match that turned out to be a 2-2 draw.

Messi’s impact was felt immediately as he scored a goal just 12 minutes into his return as Inter-Miami tied the contest 1-1. He would be involved in the go ahead goal that gave the team a 2-1 lead.

Colorado scored a goal late in the game and came out of South Florida with some points.

Inter-Miami’s record is now 3-2-3 (12 points) in the Eastern Conference while Colorado is 2-2-3 (nine points) in the Western Conference.

But back to the post-game interview with Coach Gerardo Martino.

Inter-Miami beat writer Michelle Kaufman, also, a professor at the University of Miami, brought a lot of her students to cover the game. What she told he students was something I was unaware of.

The entire Press Conference was going to be in Spanish and the Zoom Availability was going to be translated in English.

As I kept attempting to get a question but getting shunned by my colleagues, I’m thinking, I wanted to ask the coach a question about his squad facing Colorado for the first time, how did they prepare and train for this opponent? That opportunity never came.

Afterwards, I asked Cabrera about this and he told me what had taken place and then I quipped with him, I guess after being away for a year and a half, things have changed. We both smiled and took a picture together. It was a light-hearted moment with a guy that’s one of the nicest people in our business.

This guy has a tough job especially since Messi has arrived. 

Inter-Miami is getting with tons of publicity, and media credential requests that it could never have imagined. 

I can only imagine how many e-mails that he’s unable to return these days. But he takes it all in stride and makes the best of it.

As for myself, to have an All-Spanish Press Conference, I couldn’t have ever anticipated that I would ever see in my lifetime. But it goes to show you that when you cover events in the field, anything can happen. And boy did it on this night.

There were two fans that ran on the field to meet Messi, and were arrested and taken into custody. On our way out, Messi had a police escort to leave Chase Stadium.

As for myself, this reminded me of Spring Training and I’ll know this the next time. If this happens again, I’ll have a Plan B so in case this happens again, I’ll be better prepared for it.

In the meantime, it was great to laugh at myself for not taking Spanish in school because when you live in South Florida, you’re in deep trouble without it.

During past press conferences when both languages were used with a player that didn’t know English, Cabrera was there to bail me out. There was no bailing out or an English question to be asked. 

I did accomplish one thing. This will be another story for part two, of “Lessons From The Microphone.”

It’s not all that bad.

I took everything in stride and as a result, the lesson to be learned is turn a negative into a positive.

The coaches Spanish Press Conference is also in this story so check it out.

Who knows what the next First For This Media Man will be. Stay tuned.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gamil.com and you can find him on X @TribuneSouth.

If you want to see his broadcasts, the there is no cost to subscribe to the South Florida Tribune YouTube Channel.

Also, his book, “Lessons From The Microphone” is available at Amazon, Kindle and Barnes & Noble.


Return To Sebring An Adventure

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I have to admit that when I came to the Sebring Raceway a few years ago, I was overwhelmed about covering a different form of racing. 

This was my first time covering Endurance Racing and I didn’t know any of the drivers. 

I learned that this form of racing was more about teamwork with 3-4 drivers per-car and it was more about the manufacturer's. 

This circuit has a lot of money when you have Rolls Royce, Porsche, Lamborghini, Cadillac’s and others racing for long periods of time in the various classes of competition. NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson found this track to be quite challenging.

I had a great teacher in track historian Ken Breslauer showing me the ropes, in addition to Kelsi Miller, who has invited me to cover a race at Road America in Atlanta, GA., which I have on my bucket list.

Every year at Sebring, they always have a different set up for the media and I’m not going to dwell on that in this story.

Last year, I took Sebring Off and tackled the Rolex 24 Hours at the Daytona International Speedway. This was taken off my bucket list and I had to come up with a strategy to survive this experience on my first try by asking various members of the media at the preliminary races how to do it. I received different opinions and then successfully got the job done.

This year, I returned to Sebring with the Rolex 24 Hours experience under my belt and over the two days I was at this historic racetrack, this situation was extremely easy, but there were different sets of challenges.

On Friday, March 16, I did run into Breslauer again and we exchanged books. I gave him a signed copy of mine, “Lessons From The Microphone” and he returned the favor with his second book, “Sebring 1983” and we reminisced about my first couple of races in Endurance Racing. We also exchanged ideas on how to promote our books.

I also talked to Ken about the frustration that I had with Daytona International Speedway Communications Director Steph Harris and her arrogant attitude when we covered the Rolex 24 and Daytona 500. 

This woman had the gall to call our website a fans website and it was evident she never went to it which was so far from the truth.

I told Ken about our seating accommodations this year as the press box was eliminated and the media was divided up into three different rooms in the paddock area and two rooms at the track hotel. He told me to call him next year and he’ll make sure the situation is much better.

My second day was spent at the track hotel. 

For the two days I was in the area, I commuted 90 minutes each way from Fort Pierce, FL. 

That situation will change next year as I will be leasing a new van this summer and will stay at the racetrack.

During the week, I was contacted by the publicist of “The Heart of Racing Team” Haleigh R Jordan and she asked me if I was interested in interviewing some of her drivers. I told her yes and she set up a pair at 4 pm that day. I hung around their trailer and these drivers were Zachorie Robicon and Roman DeAngelis.

Both of these drivers had won IMSA Championships and Robicon won at Sebring. They were signing autographs for the fans.

Jordan came up to me if I wanted to do these interviews closer to 3:30 PM and that suited me fine.

DeAngelis was absolutely fantastic. We did the interview and took a photo together. 

Unfortunately, there would be no interview with Robicon as a drivers meeting unexpectedly came up.

Where I struggle with Jordan’s professionalism was we began with five possibilities, then two and landed one. She never came up with a time to reschedule Robicon.

I made the best of the situation and made the decision that when I cover this race or any other endurance again, I wouldn’t do business with her again.

My goal for late 2024 is when I write the second part of my book, I would be only covering events that would give me enough stories to make the next one better than the first.

Day two on Saturday, March 17, was an experience in itself as I spent the entire time at the Seven Raceway Hotel. 

There were two rooms that I could have worked out of for the over flow media. There was one that had three monitors where I could see the race while the other one didn’t have monitors.

I was unable to find a spot in the room that had monitors so I opted for the other room.

There were approximately 350 press credentials issued and space for 200. That’s why this hotel was utilized. 

After a frustrating Friday, there was no way that I was going to get just one story for the weekend. 

When you’ve been in the business for 44 years, you simply don’t settle for anything less than what you want.

In life, you have to make the best out of a situation or turn a negative into a positive. That’s exactly what I did as I sought very different feature stories.

My first story was about a Cuban born journalist named Luis Martinez. We talked about his upbringing in Cuba and how he got into racing. You can watch the interview in its entirety in this story. I was fascinated by everything he said and we ate dinner later that afternoon. Martinez is based out of Rochester, NY.

I decided to do a story with his photographer Anthony Joseph Bristol and we talked about all of the endurance races that he’s covered. His experiences were outright amazing.

Considering how loud it is to find a quiet spot to do interviews, this last one was really neat. 

I spoke with native Metro Detroiter and now Naples resident Karen Burrow, who rented a conference room in the hotel to have an art gallery. 

I made a deal with her that if she let me use the room for one hour, then I would promote her Automotive Art Gallery. 

She was absolutely fantastic as I used her room from 1-2 PM. We did a show for about 15 minutes and she was extremely elated! This was the ultimate win-win situation!

You couldn’t find stories more different than these and once again, you’ll be able to view these videos in this story. 

I find it outright amazing that when you have so much time with these endurance races whether it be 12 or 24 hours, it’s amazing what type of content a person can come up with.

Since I didn’t have my photographer Candy Ebling with me on this project, I sought other individuals to take key photos and do the videos.

What I did like about the hotel set-up was I enjoyed taking photos during the day and at night of the back of the race-track. The hotel is nice and one day, I might decide to rent a room just to get a way for a weekend.

Sebring isn’t known for the best internet connection, but heck, if it’s adequate enough to do basic things, that works for me.

When it was all said and done, this was a race where I didn’t know who won it because there was no monitor to watch the end. Then again, I didn’t know the drivers with the exception of the Heart Racing Team. 

This experience will make me a bit smarter when I return in 2025.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can see his broadcasts by subscribing to the South Florida Tribune YouTube Channel. He can be found on X at @Tribune South.

His book, “Lessons From The Microphone” can be purchased on Amazon, Kindle and Barnes & Noble.





July 4th With The Marlins and Red Sox

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH The schedule makers have been great to me the past two years as the Miami Marlins have been home for July 4th. In 2023, ...