A Local Controversy…

The big local story of the day is that the Skins claimed Reuben Foster off the waiver list after the Niners released him in the wake of domestic abuse charges.  Obviously, that is a controversial decision and it illustrates the fact that elite athletic abilities can sometimes trump despicable off-field actions.

  • Make no mistake; Reuben Foster’s combination of youth, skill and rookie contract status makes him a top-shelf football commodity.
  • Make no mistake; Reuben Foster’s record of behavior off the field goes well beyond highly questionable.  [Apologies to Dan LeBatard there…]

This announcement is fodder for local sports radio yakkers.  To no one’s surprise, one of them did a poll on one of the Internet platforms and equally unsurprising were the results.  The fanbase is split into two camps of relatively equal size:

  • 55% said they liked the waiver claim
  • 45% said they disliked the waiver claim

In a column in this morning’s Washington Post, columnist Jerry Brewer noted that the team front office was not unanimous in its decision to make this waiver claim and that the team relied to some degree on positive testimonials from former teammates at Alabama who had played with Foster there.  [For the record, there are 5 Alabama alums on the Skins’ roster on the defensive side of the ball.]  I point that out to show that the team reportedly did some ”checking”/”due diligence” before making the waiver claim.

However, there is also a report in USA Today that says only one team in the NFL bothered to contact the Tampa police – where the alleged domestic abuse took place – about what the police knew.  That team was not the Skins; that team was the Philadelphia Eagles.  And you may ask now why that is interesting…

  • The Skins have a better record in 2018 as of this morning than the Eagles.  Ergo, the Eagles could have claimed Foster before the Skins had a chance to put in their claim.
  • If the Eagles indeed contacted the Tampa police and then passed on the waiver claim, it is fair to ask what they may have learned by that contact.  And what the Skins might have learned had they too contacted the Tampa police.

This situation will not be fully resolved for a while.  I fully expect there to be twists and turns along the way.  This will not be ignored in the environment of the MeToo movement.  And to really add some spice to the stew, this matter is now squarely in the hands of Commissioner Roger Goodell who has not showered himself in glory while handling domestic abuse matters in the past.

Moving along …  When Christian Yelich won the NL MVP Award this year, it created an interesting situation regarding MLB.  Consider:

  • The 2017 NL MVP was Giancarlo Stanton.  The Marlins traded him away in a cost reducing move.
  • The 2018 NL MVP was Christian Yelich.  The Marlins traded him away in a cost reducing move.

I think I am on relatively solid footing to assert that having two different players who recently won the NL MVP on a team ought to produce a team that generated excitement and enthusiasm in that team’s fanbase.  However, the Marlins traded both players away for economic reasons.  So, that makes me ask once again;

  • Is Miami, FL a sufficiently robust market for a MLB team?

In 2017, the Marlins drew 20,295 fans per game for 78 home games.  That is a total draw of just under 1.6M fans.

In 2018, the Marlins’ attendance cratered from that already low mark to an average of 10,014 fans per game.  That represents a drop of more than 50% year-over-year and a total draw of 811K fans.

In the 2010 census, Miami had a population of 399,500 people.  In that same census, other baseball cities were smaller – – and yet provided better team support for the local heroes.  Miami is bigger than:

  1. Oakland
  2. Minneapolis
  3. Cleveland
  4. Tampa
  5. St. Louis
  6. Pittsburgh
  7. Cincinnati

[Note:  I left off cities like Arlington, TX and Anaheim, CA from this list.  Those cities are indeed smaller than Miami, but those teams draw from nearby metro areas that dwarf Miami.]

It seems to me that the Miami Marlins ought to be on a short list of teams that MLB should relocate.

Finally, Dwight Perry had a comment recently in the Seattle Times related to a small drop in MLB attendance for 2018 as compared to 2017:

“Attendance at Major League Baseball games dropped 4 percent this season.

“Must have been all those players kneeling for the national anthem.”

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