Loria-protesting Marlins fans kicked out of Marlins Park

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Some fans showed up to last night’s Marlins-Braves game wearing anti-Jeff Loria t-shirts and carrying anti-Jeff Loria signs. Neither the signs nor the t-shirts said anything profane or offensive on them.  The fans were stopped by some reporters and, for five minutes or so, gave interviews.  A few minutes later — before they even got to their seats, they claim — they were kicked out of the park by the police.

The police said that “they want you to leave,” with the “they” appearing to be the Marlins.  The Marlins, however, are saying that (a) the fans were creating a disturbance; and (b) were kicked out because they didn’t comply with police requests to show I.D.  Here’s team president David Samson’s comment to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post:

“We got information from the police that they’d run into a couple of fans who were walking around holding signs that were fine. That was not the issue. They were drawing some attention to themselves. Making some noise later in the game, which is not uncommon,’’ Samson said.

“As per standard operating procedure, the police go up, try to tell them to calm down and they did not. Then the police said, ‘Show me ID’ and they did not. And that was it. You have to show ID when asked. So they were ejected.”

If they didn’t make it to their seats, as the ejected fans claim, it’s hard to see how they were acting poorly “later in the game.” And if it’s really a police matter, why did the cops tell the fans that the team wanted them gone?

Maybe this is some he-said, she-said, and the fans truly were being disruptive. But it sure as hell sounds to me that the Marlins simply didn’t like the fact that someone was criticizing them in their own (tax payer-funded) house.

(thanks to Bill Lawrence for the heads up)

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.