Like most lifelong Marlins fans, Dan Barton feels like team owner Jeffrey Loria spent the offseason repeatedly kicking him in the junk. So the 25-year-old and three of his friends showed up at last night's home opener with some homemade signs and T-shirts -- "Free the Marlins" and "F Jeff" were the raciest -- and walked around the concourse during the game.
The Marlins bein\g the Marlins, they promptly kicked the guys out before they could even get to their seats.
"It was unbelievable," Barton told the Sun Sentinel. "It was a punch to the gut considering I've been a Marlins fan all my life."
Barton and his friends Jon and Connor Gardner, along with another man who wasn't identified, began walking around the concourse between the first and second innings, attracting a couple of reporters and a photograph or two. They talked up a protest website they've started, rageagainstthemarlins.com.
Mid-conversation with a Palm Beach Post scribe, the cops showed up and escorted the group out. Barton says police claimed he and his friends were blocking views with their sign, and says his friends offered to turn their shirts inside-out.
"We asked police what we were doing wrong, and he said, 'They want you to leave,'" referring to the Marlins, Barton told the Palm Beach Post.
After the game, team president David Samson told a different story, of course. Here's what he had to say:
"We got information from the police that they'd run into a couple of fans who were walking around holding signs that were fine. That was not the issue. They were drawing some attention to themselves. Making some noise later in the game, which is not uncommon. As per standard operating procedure, the police go up, try to tell them to calm down and they did not. Then the police said, 'Show me ID' and they did not. And that was it. You have to show ID when asked. So they were ejected. We go through games during the course of a season, it is not uncommon to have ejections of people who drink too much, do too much. Overall it is hard to, even for certain people, it is hard to put a negative spin on tonight's game other than the fact that we did not win and got two hits.''
This rebuttal is so absurd it's hard to know where to even begin picking it apart. It's like trying to make a logical term paper out of a Kafka short story.
It's "standard police procedure" to approach fans "making noise"? That would explain a thing or two about the deafening silence at Marlins games, but what stadium has standing instructions to cops to harass ticket-buyers simply for being loud?
"It is not uncommon to have ejections of people who drink too much." Yes, but it is uncommon in most of America to have ejections of people with a harmless sign and some T-shirts making fun of the team's owner.
"It is hard to put a negative spin on tonight's game other than the fact that we did not win and got two hits." Yes, other than the fact that your team is terrible because you destroyed the payroll and put on a complete opening-night shitshow for a fan base that shelled out $500 million to build you a stadium, it's hard to think of a single negative thing to say about last night's game.
Oh, but let us try: You threw out a few hard-core fans for daring to express their love for their team, leading the entire baseball world to hate you even more than they already did -- a nigh impossible feat of horrific management.
Loria and Samson deserve every single terrible attendance record, scathing column, and canceled season-ticket subscription coming to them this year.
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The players themselves seemed buoyed by the turnout. Placido Polanco called the attendance "a good sign." Starting pitcher Kevin Slowey said, "The crowd was amazing, for all the turmoil. A lot of people love baseball here."Further questions to players were shut down by Marlins media relations official Matt Roebuck who escorted this reporter out of the clubhouse.