The Miami Marlins ticket office people are total professionals

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Out of pure curiosity and, I will admit, an impish desire to stir up trouble, I called the Miami Marlins season ticket office a few minutes ago to see what, in light of the latest fire sale, the party line is among people trying to sell Marlins season tickets.

Figuring it has to be a rough morning for these guys, I played it straight up, merely inquiring about tickets, ticket prices and the like and didn’t try to give anyone a hard time. I wasn’t wanting to fool anyone, either. Just to see what sort of pitch was ruling the day.  I did claim that I was interested in getting information about ticket pricing and availability, but did not say I was poised to purchase. I mostly just wanted to hear what they’re telling people today.

The upshot:  the folks in that office are total pros. Honest. No baloney, but still doing their jobs and anticipating what is bound to be a lot of negative fan reaction.

The woman I spoke with was very pleasant. She talked up the ballpark and the experience of going to Marlins games and the enjoyable nature of baseball in general.  There were no over-the-top claims of team quality or hard sells to be found.

Towards the end of the call I said that I noticed the news about the trade last night and asked if that had led to a lot of negative reaction. She was honest and said, yes, they’ve gotten some angry calls today and that some people were not renewing tickets (though this was not connected to the trade; just that, in general, not everyone was renewing, which is obvious). She mentioned that there was a staff meeting about the trade this morning to let everyone know about the latest news.  She said that it’s understandable that some people are going to be upset, but that there were some good young players coming over in the trade so that, from a baseball perspective, there is a lot to be optimistic about.

And all of that was true.  It was quite refreshing actually. No b.s. coming from them at all.  She followed up with a friendly email, again, noting that while some people are understandably having a hard time getting enthused, it’s a good time to get tickets.

If only the top of that organization was so honest, professional and pleasant.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.