COMENTARY – The Miami Marlins must focus on baseball. Now that it has been revealed by management and team owner Jeffrey Loria that he is indeed fielding offers to buy the franchise, players and the coaching staff cannot allow this to become a part of their preparation for the upcoming season.
It would appear the Marlins already have enough to deal with, returning to the diamond without their ace Jose Fernandez while trying to find the balance between sorrow and triumph. Team manager Don Mattingly has the right idea, focusing on what is in front of him.
"I don't worry about things I can't control," Mattingly said. "It's the same with this ballclub. If you play professionally, you know how to cut out distractions. So anything that would be peripheral to that, for me, is just noise."
The players and staff reported to the third day of Spring Training on Thursday morning with the organization already in the news. On Wednesday night, the New York Post reported Loria is under serious consideration to be appointed as United States Ambassador to France.
It might be a good thing the news of an impending sale of this team has overshadowed the return of players to spring training. The news of Fernandez’s death ended the season, and still overshadows the notion this team could be a playoff contender once again. Loria’s news that he could be trading balls and strikes for political elbow rubbing is big news, not only in baseball but in the arena of world news.
The Marlins walked into Roger Dean Stadium this week with a renewal of confidence, a chance to make 2017 magical.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com wrote on Saturday that reports have also surfaced that Loria has been in discussions with a group that includes Joshua Kushner to sell the Marlins. Kushner's brother Jared is married to Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, and serves as senior advisor to the president.
The Kushner family on Wednesday night announced it will not pursue purchasing the Marlins if Loria becomes an ambassador to France.
The club has made no formal comment on reports of a potential sale, or on the reports that Loria is in the mix to become an ambassador. Mattingly has dealt with ownership speculation in the past, when he was with the Dodgers a few years ago.
"If we make sure that we understand, we don't control that," Mattingly said. "If the guys are worried about what the is saying about them, or what's on Twitter, none of that stuff has anything to do with us winning games."
Miami has plenty more to focus on. Who will be the opening day starter? Will Dee Gordon return to his 2015 form? Can Giancarlo Stanton remain healthy for a full season? Will the bullpen prove to be the team’s saving grace? All of these things are more important than the potential sale of the team. It might even motivate the 25-man roster in some odd way.
News about the sale of the team will continue on the periphery. There will be plenty of stories about suitors and speculation. All the players can do is prepare for the start of the regular season. This team has dealt with too many outside distractions. It’s time to finally play baseball.