RIP Ken Kaiser

Today you need to tip your cap to the ancient Greek mathematician/philosopher, Pythagoras.  If you write today’s date in numerical form [ 8/15/17 ], those numbers represent the sides of a right triangle as put forth by the Pythagorean Theorem.  The next time that will happen will be on October 24, 2026 – – 10/24/26.

Ken Kaiser died last week at the age of 72 and I missed the report of his passing.  A friend and reader who used to umpire baseball games sent me the obit.  Kaiser was an umpire in MLB for 23 years and while he was working his way up the umpiring ladder for 13 years – and you may be sure that minor league umpires were not pulling down any significant wages back then – he augmented his income for a brief time as a professional wrestler.  His nom de guerre in the ‘rassling world was “The Hatchet Man”.

RIP, Ken Kaiser.

It now appears official that a group of investors fronted by Derek Jeter will buy the Miami Marlins from Jeffrey Loria for $1.17B.  The investor with the most money in the deal reportedly is a venture capitalist from NY named Bruce Sherman and Michael Jordan – yes, that Michael Jordan – also has a piece of the action.  Jeter will, according to the NY Times, control the baseball side of the franchise.  The deal still needs the approval of the MLB owners and that will not happen prior to a scheduled meeting of the owners in October but all signs point to approval of this deal.  There were several groups bidding for the Marlins and the groups included some familiar names.  Here is a quick summary of all the luminaries who were involved in the bidding process.

$1.17B is a whole lot of money and the Miami Marlins are certainly not a vibrant and beloved franchise in the MLB cosmos.  On one hand, maybe this tension between the team and its fans is resident in Jeffrey Loria’s ownership.  In the course of his stewardship of the team, he has won a World Series ring and has subsequently traded off all the players who made that happen to put a rag-tag group out on the field soon after the glory days.  Fans did not appreciate that.  Loria then got the folks down there to build him a new stadium at taxpayer expense – – and still put a chokehold on the purse strings for the team.  Perhaps that is why the Marlins are 28th in MLB this year in attendance per game (20,715 fans per game) down 1,038 fans per game relative to 2016.

This is not a new phenomenon in Miami.  Almost 20 years ago, Elian Gonzales was prominent in the news.  He was the young boy who was to be returned to his folks in Cuba based on a court ruling and it took a Federal raid ordered by Attorney General Janet Reno to take him from the arms of relatives who had the boy in Miami.  Believe me, I am not going to try to relitigate that matter here…

There were major demonstrations in Miami at the time trying to convince folks that young Elian should be allowed to stay here and should not be returned to Cuba; this was – and probably still is – an important event within the Cuban-American community in Miami.  One night, there was a demonstration there and the press covering it estimated that the crowd was 25,000 people.

This all happened before I was writing these rants for the Internet but I was writing abbreviated versions of them for a limited group of colleagues.  I wrote at the time that the Marlins – having trouble drawing fans (15,041 fans per game in the 2000 season) – ought to hold “Elian Gonzales Night”.  They could bring the child and his family to the park and give them prominent seats in the stadium; that would bring 25,000 demonstrators plus any other interested baseball fans to the park and that would be a significant boost for attendance.

As you might imagine, that sort of promotion did not happen.  Wayne Huizenga owned the Marlins at the time; if it had been Bill Veeck …

I mention this because whoever buys the Marlins has a lot of work to do to change the relationship between the team and its fans.  Derek Jeter surely has an impeccable résumé on a baseball field and in a clubhouse; he will need to project that same sort of image to the fans in Miami as a way to start changing the perception of the team.  It is almost standard procedure for a new owner of a team to come in and “change things up” as a way of announcing to the fanbase that the place is “under new management’.  I think the Jeter-group should do that for more fundamental reasons than just showing there are new folks in charge; they need to show folks there that this group is different from the previous ownership and that things are going to be done differently.

To date, Derek Jeter has succeeded in just about everything he has done related to baseball.  The only reason he is not in the Hall of Fame is that he retired after the 2014 season and his “HoF waiting period” has not yet concluded.  Having said that, he his entering a whole new phase of baseball with this purchase.  He may not be the person with the most money at stake in the deal but he will be the face of the franchise from the moment that the ink is dry on the closing documents.  He will no longer be making decisions about how to shade a hitter as a shortstop or anticipating the next pitch from an opponent; now he will have to make management decisions that will only be viewed positively if other people perform well on a baseball field.

I am not saying he cannot do this; I am saying this is not necessarily going to be a cakewalk for him…

Finally, here is an item from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald regarding some potential competition for the Miami Marlins as the new ownership takes over:

“There are reports a $10 million cricket franchise is coming to South Florida, surprising analysts who were unaware there were cricket franchises.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “RIP Ken Kaiser”

    1. david:

      Some people have believed that fans stayed away from marlins games because of Jeffrey Loria’s ownership of the team. That excuse is also out the window as soon as the deal goes to closure…

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