Showtime released a 30-minute preview on Saturday to its show The Franchise: A Season With the Miami Marlins, which will chronicle the travails of baseball's version of a court jester. There's a scene near the start of the show where loudmouth manager Ozzie Guillen is addressing his new players for the first time. He's in the locker room in Jupiter, and he's talking about winning and whatnot. Team owner Jeffrey Loria is sitting in the corner with handheld counter.
Loria clicks away during the speech, noting, like a pitching coach keeping track of his starter, each time Guillen says fuck.
"Ninety-seven f-bombs," Loria says to Guillen after the speech.
"Good," Guillen says. "That's the only way you get across to the guys."
For Loria, though, those f-bombs do something else. Every curse, every stupid thing Guillen
says -- and he will say many this year -- will be recorded by Showtime and served to a national audience, just in case the beat reporters missed his most recent gaffe. All those stupid things Guillen says will do this: They will serve like a bullhorn to shout down the chorus of voices that once complained about the highly questionable deal that got Loria his new stadium.
Consider that it was just weeks ago that the Securities and Exchange Commission announced it launched an investigation into the deal that got the Marlins a $515 million stadium. And this deal is ripe for investigation: Taxpayers contributed 70 percent of the money to build the stadium but will get zilch from ticket sales. Such news could have plagued the team all year as reporters continued to hound the team about whether SEC investigators were snooping around.
But Loria has a plan to try to make us forget about this kind of news. He assured that in the offseason, hiring a manager better-known for his mouth than his managerial skills. Just to be sure, he gave Guillen pitcher Carlos Zambrano, whose fastball has slowed while his temper just got hotter. Surely the two will end in the kind of fisticuffs that make people forget about stadium deals.
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As if on cue, Guillen changed the news cycle away from SEC probes by telling Time magazine "I love Fidel Castro." It was a beautiful gift of stupidity for the Marlins. In The Franchise episode, Marlins President David Samson tells Guillen that the fallout to that comment was "the worst week we've ever had" at the Marlins. He then suspended him for five days.
Sounds terrible, right? Remember, though, that this show that's supposedly displaying the inner turmoil of the Marlins is produced by none other than Major League Baseball Productions. What Showtime viewers are watching is a promotional video meant to show exactly what will keep fans from forgetting about the screwing they got with that Darth Vader helmet of a stadium plopped down in Little Havana.
We're also supposed to forget that the 7-8 Marlins are already under .500, that they're 4.5 games out of first place, and that the spending spree the team claims to have gone on really added only $22 million to the roster this year (stories about the $191 million contracts ignore the fact that they're entirely backloaded with aging stars likely to be traded or released before big roster bonuses are due).
No, Loria wants you to keep watching The Franchise, paying attention to the bombastic hothead as he pulls the strings behind the curtain. A curtain certainly paid for with tax money.