I'm not usually one who concerns myself with what others think or do. I don't think ESPN has a ridiculous East Coast Bias that prevents them from showing the Cubs and I could care less that they'll refer to "the curse" or different things like that in the past, because I feel for the most part their decisions are all made with the idea of how to generate the most ratings and I don't particularly find their coverage of the Cubs to be one-sided in a negative way or suffocating. Joe Morgan in particular is another story though..
I digress, my point is I don't generally get worked up by what others think or how others approach the Cubs. I also seem to have a different viewpoint of fandom than a lot of others, since I don't particularly care what any of the Cubs "rivals" do. I root for the Cubs because I love the Cubs, and if they're in direct competition with another team I'm obviously rooting against the other team, but i've never understood why people actively root against rivals as if a "rival" losing makes you feel better because their fans feel worse. The ideal doesn't resonate with me and it's one that quite frankly disgusts me.
So where am I going with all of this? Well if you happened to attend any of the Cubs-Marlins games this weekend you'll notice that the Marlins seemingly made a conscious effort to create an aggressive environment between Cubs and Marlins fans. The "jumbotron" whenever Cubs players came up had a picture of the 1908 Cubs behind them with a moving Goat and any time a Cubs player struck out or the Marlins made a good play they'd play a loud Goat noise. The Jumbotron also routinely rewarded Marlins fans making derogative signs towards the Cubs. A fan who brought a big picture of a Goat was routinely shown as well as a fan with a Marlins Jersey which he had written the number '03 on and written the name "Bartman", and fans who brought signs saying "This isn't the year", etc. It struck me because I've been in South Fla for over 20 years and of late (since '03) the environment at the stadium between Cubs fans and Marlins fans has become more aggressive and confrontational. I've seen FAR more altercations in Cubs-Marlins series than any other series i've ever attended and it's not particularly close. I'm not saying the Marlins fans are more wrong than the Cubs fans, because there were certainly plenty of bafoons in Cubs paraphanelia looking to start trouble, but I guess what I don't understand is why an organization would go out of their way to antagonize and create an aggressive, confrontational atmosphere through their in stadium entertainment.
I decided to ask those questions to the Marlins team president who I was able to get an email address from his local radio show down here. I've yet to get a response, but I'll post the email I sent below. If anyone else was at the games and felt the same way and felt compelled to question it David Samson can be reached at D.Samson@Flamarlins.com. As I said before, I'm generally not one to complain and make a big deal about episodes like this, but I felt the Marlins campaign was suffocating and antagonizing and wanted to find out if others who attended the games felt that way as well.
Here's my email to Samson:
First and foremost let me preface this email by saying I've become a big fan of yours and Dan Le Batard's by listening to the show. I enjoy the candor each of you bring to a number of conversations. I also admire the Marlins organization and baseball operations for all the success your group has had and I honestly wish more people in the South Florida area appreciated it as much as they should.
I am a Cubs fan who grew up in South Florida and has lived here for over 20 years. I've attended Cubs-Marlins games for the last 10 years and I've attended a number of Marlins games over the years as I'm a baseball fan in general who has an appreciation for the talent your organization puts on the field.
With that said, I have to say I'm disappointed in the way your organization has chosen to approach the Cubs-Marlins series this year from a stadium entertainment perspective and from a broadcasting perspective when on the road. It seems the focus of the campaign is to hammer home the pitfalls of another organization rather than celebrate the successes of your own.
In the road broadcasts earlier this year the TV crew went out of their way to remind the viewer of the "Bartman" incident and went out of their way to suffocate the viewer with information on "the curse". After each of these mini-segments it was reminded to the viewer that the reason this is covered is because its "a part of the history", in almost an apologetic way to Cubs fans for the suffocating coverage.
This focus has continued into the stadium as the stadium scoreboard has shown the 1908 Cubs when Cubs players bats and shown a moving Goat. When the Marlins make a big play a "Goat" voiceover echoes the stadium. In between innings fans who bring in paraphanelia disparaging the Cubs are rewarded by being shown on the "Jumbotron".
I can't understand why the organization's focus is so much on the pitfalls of another team and the suffering of another fan-base rather than celebrating their own (while limited in time) successful tradition. This is an organization that has won Two titles in the last 11 years, why does the focus need to be on what another team hasn't been able to accomplish?
As a Cubs fan clearly I'm biased in the fact that I've had enough suffering and I don't need to be reminded of it every 10 mins. But as a fan of your organization's operations as well I can't for the life of me think of the benefits it brings to the Marlins.
It creates an atmosphere in which fans are rewarded for disparaging the other team and their fan base. This atmosphere resonates into the stands where Cubs-Marlins games seem to have more confrontations than any other Marlins games i've been to. Routinely arguments are breaking out in the stadium and just in these last two games I've seen at least 7 people escorted out for poor behavior. Certainly I'm not pointing the finger at either fan base, because there are clearly bafoons on each side who "have a few too many" and become a bit too involved in the confrontational aspects of fan-dom. What I am confused about is why an organization would want to fuel this type of attitude towards one another by creating an attacking ad campaign on the opposing team's fan base. It becomes apparent that fans are going to be rewarded for disparaging Cubs fans. This creates an environment where Cubs fans feel defensive and battered by the stadium experience and Marlins fans feel encouraged to behave in a way that the Jumbotron operators will reward.
It comes off from an outsider as a classless stunt and one that I can figure out what the benefits are. The crowds the Cubs-Marlins series are some of the biggest of the year and I don't understand why your organization would want to intentionally remind another fan base of their suffering, encourage a divisive and aggressive tone for each of the two fan-bases, and instead ignore the positive tradition of both fan-bases.
This wasn't the way Cubs-Marlins series were approached in the past where the positive traditions of each fan base were celebrated. I remember the Marlins celebrating Harry Caray with a 7th inning stretch and the overall environment was much more cordial.
If you could provide some sort of reasoning or forward this to the person who could provide reasoning behind this campaign, I'd appreciate some insight. I just can't figure out the benefits to the Marlins organization of such a campaign and I feel the negatives are apparent in the aggressiveness brought out by both fan-bases in ballpark altercations.
Thanks for any consideration and attention this email receives. I hope this is taken into consideration in the future and Cubs-Marlins games can be more about the game and less stirring up aggressiveness between the two fan-bases.