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Marlins attendance is bad, but at least they’re being honest about it

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One night after the Marlins drew the lowest number of fans for a regularly-scheduled game this decade they drew even fewer: 6,516 souls, the lowest attendance figure since they moved into their current park six years ago.

Which is not to say that it’s the lowest number of fans they’ve hosted in the past. Everyone likely knows that, in Major League Baseball, attendance is based on the number of tickets sold per game, not on the number of actual butts in seats. The Marlins have played host to far fewer in the past and, when bad weather comes around, you can count the number of fans at a lot of ballparks in the triple digits. On Monday, for example, the White Sox and Rays played host to just over 900 people, even if the paid attendance was over 10,000. Not that I’d blame anyone for staying home, for reasons more eloquently stated by others:

The Marlins attendance figures may read higher than butts-in-seats, but they’re lower than usual for another technical reason: they’re counting tickets sold differently this year than they have in the past. From the Sun-Sentinel:

A team spokesman said prior to Opening Day that crowd counts would reflect tickets actually sold, and would not include giveaways or tickets deeply discounted. Attendance under previous ownership was also reported as tickets sold. A wide disparity between the announced figure and fans in the stands was often evident.

It’s not at all shocking that Jeff Loria, who possesses no small amount of ego, would try to inflate attendance figures by including giveaway tickets which is not common practice in the majors.* The Miami Herald reported a couple of weeks ago that if this year’s attendance-counting methods were used last year, the Marlins would be dead last in attendance at just over 800,000, well behind the Tampa Bay Rays. With the new system in place — and with a team stripped of its stars due to new ownership’s austerity measures — that figure is likely to be lower and it’s an utter certainty that the club will be 30th in gate once again.

We slam the Marlins a lot around here and, to be clear, the fact that they’ve put such a bad product on the field that fans are so loathe to see it is not something for which they should be praised. The significance of the super low attendance figures, however, should not be overstated as they represent the club’s decision to be more honest about ticket sales than the last regime was. Honesty doesn’t pay the bills, but it should count for something, right?

*UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said that the Marlins were unique in using Groupon to sell ticket packages. I was working off of old or, possibly, mistaken information when I wrote that. In reality, Groupon worked with 14 major league clubs last year and sold over 121,000 tickets via the service.

 

Ron Roenicke fired by Red Sox after one season

Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke will not return in 2021, the team said before its final game on Sunday, ending his tenure as a one-year, shotgun stopgap for a pandemic-shortened season with a last-place finish in the AL East.

Hired on the eve of spring training after Alex Cora was caught cheating during his time in Houston, Roenicke took over a roster that would soon shed 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price, who were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ace Chris Sale (Tommy John surgery) and Eduardo Rodriguez (COVID-19) never threw a pitch for the team this year.

Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom also commended Roenicke for navigating the coronavirus shutdown and for holding the team together when racial protests interrupted the season.

“He did a tremendous job under really challenging and basically unprecedented circumstances,” said Bloom, who met with Roenicke in Atlanta on Sunday morning to give him the news.

“As you would expect, he handled it really well. Probably better than I did,” Bloom said on a Zoom call. “I think he is just an incredible human being.”

Sure to get attention as a possible successor: Cora, who led the Red Sox to a World Series championship in 2018, his first season as a major league manager. The team split with him less than a month before spring training after he was identified as the ringleader in the Houston sign-stealing scandal; Cora’s one-year suspension for that scandal ends after the World Series.

With Cora gone, the Red Sox promoted Roenicke from bench coach to interim manager. They removed the temporary tag in April, during the coronavirus shutdown, when Roenicke was cleared in the commissioner’s investigation into sign-stealing by the Red Sox during their championship season.

He was not given an extension on the one year he had remaining on the contract he had signed as a bench coach — fueling speculation that Cora could be welcomed back after serving his penalty.

The Red Sox dismissed such suggestions dismissed such suggestions at the time, but on Sunday Bloom refused to rule a return either in or out.

“I thought Ron deserved to be evaluated without anyone looking over his shoulder,” Bloom said, declining to comment further because “I don’t want to say anything about Alex that I haven’t said to Alex.”

Roenicke, 64, spent five years as the Brewers manager from 2010-15, winning 96 games and the NL Central title in his first season and finishing as runner-up for NL manager of the year. In all, he led Milwaukee to a 342-331 record in five seasons.

He was 23-36 with the Red Sox entering Sunday’s games. Bloom said he wanted to break the news to Roenicke before the end of the season.

“If Ron wanted the chance to look his players in the eye before we part ways … I didn’t want to take that from him,” Bloom said.

An infielder on Boston’s 2007 champions, Cora was mentioned 11 times in Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision on the Astros, which said Cora developed the cheating system. Cora left Houston to become Boston’s manager after the 2017 season and led the Red Sox to a franchise-record 108 regular-season wins and the World Series title.

But fallout from the Astros investigation caused Cora and newly hired New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran to lose their jobs.