The same franchise that brought you Logan Morrison's "We Swear This Isn't About Twitter" Suspension embarrassingly proudly presents Mike Cameron: Released for Detrimental Conduct (in theaters now).
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Florida Marlins are back up to their old disciplinary tricks. This time the subject of their misguided wrath is veteran outfielder Mike Cameron, who was shockingly released earlier this week. This is the same Mike Cameron who is generally renowned for being a great teammate in the clubhouse and a class act in everyday life. Wow, he must've done something really bad to cause himself to get kicked to the curb with less than three weeks left in the season. A DUI? No. Beat someone up? Try again Drugs? Nope. Give up? How about this explanation as reported by the Miami Herald:
Two sources on Wednesday gave the reason (for the cut): Cameron got into a verbal altercation with a flight attendant on the team's charter flight from Pittsburgh to Atlanta on Sunday.
The altercation did not turn physical, but the charter company filed a complaint. The Marlins' front office believed it could not keep Cameron after the incident.
Nobody got killed. Nobody got hurt. Nobody even seems to have broken the law. Cameron merely lost his temper with a flight attendant.
Lock him up! Throw away the key! Fire up the electric chair!!!
Really, Marlins? That is the reason you publicly humiliated Mike Cameron and sent him off into retirement in such unceremonious fashion? I hate to seem cynical about this, but I can't imagine what Cameron could have said in this "verbal altercation" that was bad enough to have him released on the spot yet not bad enough to prompt a response other than a complaint from the charter company to the team and NOT the police.
This isn't to say that Cameron is totally innocent here. Obviously something unsavory took place on that flight, so I have no problem with Cameron being punished. But since it sounds like a minor offense, couldn't they have reprimanded Cameron in a less humiliating way? I am sure the Marlins would like to paint this as them making an example of a veteran like Cameron to show their young players that such behavior will not be tolerated, but in so doing, they also set an example of treating respected veterans like garbage, which is hardly something that will endear said youngsters to the franchise.
Florida management made a similar misstep earlier in the year when they demoted Logan Morrison under the guise of poor performance even though everyone knew it was retribution for his outspoken comments and tweets. LoMo's demotion and now Cameron's release seem to suggest the Marlins want to crack down on unacceptable behavior of their players, but doing so in such a short-sighted and iron-fisted way just feels wrong.
There is nothing wrong with a team wanting to establish and enforce a code of conduct. In fact, it is rather admirable to see a team get proactive about keeping players in check. At the beginning of the season, MLB fans bemoaned the rash of DUI arrests amongst players, specifically because the DUIs went entirely unpunished. Setting a zero tolerance policy and enforcing it is great... if done properly and consistently. Sorry, Marlins, but you aren't the team to set that standard.
How do I know this? Because the Marlins are on the verge of unholstering a smoking gun. A fast-talking, Venezuelan smoking gun by the name of Ozzie Guillen, to be exact. Since the beginning of the season, there has been incessant rumors that the soon-to-be Miami Marlins are dying to hire Ozzie Guillen to be their new manager and face of the franchise when they make their big move into their new park. This is where the hypocrisy becomes evident.
If the Marlins didn't like Logan Morrison criticizing the team, wait until they attend one of Ozzie's infamous post-game press conferences. LoMo's tweets have drawn the team's ire on more than one occasion but they still haven't silenced him. Good luck trying to lock down Guillen's Twitter account at the same time. But at least Guillen never lost his temper and said nasty things about a "civilian" like Cameron did. Well, unless you count calling a local sports columnist a homophobic slur.
The Marlins need to realize they can't have it both ways. A "Do as we say, but not as the manager does," policy isn't going to fly for one second in the clubhouse, especially one so young, impressionable and outspoken. If they intend to go through with hiring Guillen (assuming he is available to be hired), the Marlins better be ready to revise this unofficial code of conduct they are implementing. They can still police behavior, they are just going to have to figure out how to do it in a more fair and rational manner (assuming their management is even capable of that). If not, they better get ready for the fallout because there will be plenty.