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Former Marlins President: Miami Maybe ‘Simply Not a Baseball Market’

  • Former Marlins president David Samson joined the Front Office Sports Today podcast to talk MLB, Derek Jeter, baseball economics and more.
  • Samson believes Miami is an inherently challenging baseball market for reasons most people don't realize.
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Former Miami Marlins president, Montreal Expos executive president, and podcast host David Samson joined the Front Office Sports Today podcast. He discussed the Marlins, why baseball has had trouble taking hold in Miami, and his brief time working for Yankees legend and former Marlins CEO Derek Jeter.

“I’m happy to talk about all of it because I don’t wanna run a team again,” said Samson, who hosts Nothing Personal with David Samson. “Part of the problem with talking heads these days, either they’ve never been in the room, or if they have been in the room, they don’t want to talk about what goes on in the room because they want to get back in the room.”

Listen to the full conversation on Spotify or Apple and read excerpts below.

On how he found out he had been fired as Marlins president: “After the team was sold to Derek Jeter, I would have stayed on, I had a contract to stay on. I got a text alert from ESPN.com that I’d been fired. I called Derek and said, ‘Hey, I just got an alert. Am I actually fired?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, I didn’t get to you. I’m sorry.’”

On why Derek Jeter bought into the Marlins: “Derek Jeter was the perfect person to buy a team because he didn’t use his money. And he had someone in the name of Bruce Sherman who let him do anything he wanted with absolutely no accountability. And if you can get that kind of job, you might as well go get it. 

On why Jeter’s tenure as CEO didn’t work out: “He was able to bring in all his own people and he thought that everything that I did was bad. So he erased anything I had done. And figured he could do Costanza, which is opposite day. Anything I did, he did the opposite and assumed it would work. 

“He assumed that he could get a bigger TV deal. He assumed he could get a big naming rights deal, that he’d get tons of season ticket holders, that he would make the team a winning team. And after four years, I think he realized that being a shortstop and being an executive are two totally different things…. And I think he realized quickly that being a pitch man for Subway was probably going to be more up his alley than running the team every day and being accountable for that.”

On Miami as a baseball market: “I think it’s a very misleading market because first of all, you think of Miami, you think of it as this great, amazing city that’s so full of diversity and everyone’s trying to move there and everyone’s trying to be a part of it. 

“But the funny part is that baseball is a summer sport. And what I found is that all of the wealthy individuals, they didn’t spend their summers in Miami. They would go North for the summer. So they would be around there during the winter and they would be there for six months and a day for tax purposes. And so trying to convert them to season ticket holders was very difficult.”

“The second thing that Miami doesn’t have, despite all the protestations of all their politicians, there’s really no corporate base. So you look at teams that we’re competing with, look at other low revenue, smaller market teams like Kansas city or Minnesota, or even Tampa. The lack of corporate support in Miami in general is staggering. 

“The demographics of Miami would indicate that it’s a wealthy city, but it’s got one of the lowest incomes of any of the major league cities. You’d think there’s more corporate support, but there is not…. It’s possible that Miami is simply not a baseball market.”

On the future of the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays: “I don’t think the A’s are going to move to Vegas. I don’t think Tampa is going to move anywhere. MLB wants to keep as many cities available as possible for expansion because make no mistake, MLB is going to 32 teams. … [and MLB wants to] keep as many cities as possible bidding for expansion franchises. You don’t want to waste the money on or waste the city on moving an existing team. So I think deals will get done in Oakland and Tampa.”

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