The Miami Marlins are what happens when you remove any semblance of magic from professional sports and reveal it to be the cold, hard, public-welfare-leaching business it is. In just the latest attempt to alienate every possible person in South Florida, the team has reportedly parted ways with longtime local TV broadcast color analyst Tommy Hutton.
For 19 years, Hutton had the unenviable job of making Marlins games broadcast on Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida actually seem interesting and compelling. The news of Hutton's departure was first reported by the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. Though the Marlins claim it was a mutual decision and not influenced by money, Hutton seemed shocked by the decision.
“The only answer I was given is they all decided to go in another direction,’’ Hutton told the Sun Sentinel. “The old line everybody uses. Maybe somewhere down the line I’ll get an answer, but I don’t have one now.”
The move is especially puzzling considering Marlins local TV ratings had been on the upswing over the past two decades.
It's difficult to remember, but there was a time when the Marlins actually had solid ratings. While attendance had always been a problem, throughout most of their history their local TV fan base was at least considered respectable. As recently as 2009, more people were tuning in to Marlins games then Heat games, but the team's ratings plunged when they moved to their controversial new stadium. At some points in 2013, there were more people in the stands than watching at home. However, ratings were up significantly in 2014 and then rose another 10 percent this past season.
Hutton, a former player himself, had just recently celebrated his 50th year with MLB.
Local fans and sportswriters were not pleased by the decision.
What? Tommy Hutton @THUT14 was let go as Marlins announcer? He was one of the best in the business - a reason to watch them. Unbelievable.— Dave Hyde (@davehydesports) November 24, 2015
Congratulations to @THUT14 on never having to watch another godforsaken Marlins game again.— adam smoot (@adamsmoot) November 23, 2015
@Marlins is the organization that tone deaf? Firing Tommy Hutton is the last straw. I won't watch a game this season— BarryA (@ba613) November 23, 2015
Even Keith Olbermann chimed in.
Someone even took to Hutton's Wikipedia page to vent frustration:
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The rant has since been removed.
Hutton was coming up on his 20th year. Shrewder businessmen might have come to an agreement with Hutton to give him one more season, which would've served as both a milestone and a goodbye tour, but Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson aren't particularly known for being shrewd.
In fact, much of the team's financial problems can be attributed to the fact that Loria signed a particularly paltry local TV deal that runs until 2020 in the first place.