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Marlins will address stadium name change and TV deal in 2017

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Marlins’ president David Samson has a lot left on his to-do list this year.

During the club’s annual FanFest at Marlins Park on Saturday, Samson discussed some of the key decisions that face the team over the next several months. One item on their agenda is a potential naming rights deal. Per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, Samson has narrowed the list of candidates to three, though he’s still seeking some clarity as he makes his final selection:

There’s still three companies, and we cannot figure out which direction we’re going to go in. I still want to get it done before the All-Star Game. It’s such a long-term decision. I don’t want to make the wrong one.

The Marlins are also considering a revision to their TV contract before the 2018 season. Their partnership with FOX isn’t set to expire until 2020, and Samson believes that it’s already failed to bring in adequate revenue.

He’s not wrong. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the club entered the 2016 season with one of the lowest payrolls among major league teams, hampered in large part by the annual $20 million sum they received from FOX Sports. Jackson reports that it was “the lowest of any cable contract in baseball,” while proposed negotiations to raise the Marlins’ rights fee led nowhere.

Things are a little different as the Marlins look to the 2017 season — for one thing, player payroll is back up over $100 million, and there have been strong rumors that a new owner is on the brink of acquiring the club. How this will affect their plans for a new TV deal remains to be seen. In additional comments made on Saturday, Samson said the current arrangement was “no fault of anybody’s but mine,” though it seems likely that the Marlins would take their business elsewhere if they can’t agree to a more profitable extension with FOX in the future.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.