Marlins players, fans upset by mega-trade

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Marlins players, fans upset by mega-trade

From Comcast SportsNetMIAMI (AP) -- The attendance-challenged Miami Marlins have antagonized fans yet again by deciding a low-budget team is good enough for their new ballpark.A blockbuster trade sending three stars to Toronto could save Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria 150 million, which prompted a backlash from South Floridians angered by the team's latest payroll purge."Everybody in the world wants to talk about the Marlins and the fact they're now a Triple-A team," said city commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who was an opponent of the ballpark project. "The Marlins have lost pretty much all credibility with fans. Even if this trade is a positive move from a baseball standpoint, it won't be viewed by the general public as a positive move."Miami traded All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and right-hander Josh Johnson as part of the deal, which awaited final approval Wednesday pending physicals for the players. Among the players the Blue Jays gave up were shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez and several top minor league prospects.Many fan complaints involved the ballpark, which was paid for mostly with taxpayer money as Loria promised a new era of higher payrolls and more competitive teams. The ballpark opened this year and is state of the art, but the team suddenly is looking like the same old Marlins.Loria declined to talk with reporters as he passed through the hotel lobby at the owners meetings in Chicago."Not today, boys," he said. "If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm not going to figure it out for you."Team president David Samson said the trade improved the Marlins, who have finished last in the NL East each of the past two years. This season they expected to contend for the playoffs with the highest payroll in franchise history but instead went 69-93, their worst record since 1999."We sat down after the season and talked about the team and said we cannot keep finishing in last place," Samson said on his weekly radio show on WINZ-AM. "We found a way to possibly in one fell swoop get a whole lot better. I recognize that the names coming back in a potential trade are not names people are familiar with, but in the baseball world, people are familiar with them."When asked about fans feeling betrayed, Samson said, "I think that people should feel betrayed by the fact we're losing so much, and that they wouldn't want us to stand pat and keep losing."Samson's description of the roster shakeup as an upgrade failed to mollify fans. Radio talk show host Jeff DeForrest began fielding calls from irate listeners shortly after news of the trade broke Tuesday."The next move obviously is to have Fidel Castro throw out the first pitch next year," DeForrest said. "That's the only way they could alienate the fans more than they have."Castro became a source of acrimony last April, when Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen's praise of the former Cuban leader infuriated team supporters. That was shortly after the new ballpark opened in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, and attendance never recovered from the tempest.Management had projected the rebranded team would win and draw nearly 3 million fans, but instead the Marlins were out of contention by midseason, and attendance barely topped 2.2 million.With revenue falling short of projections, Loria decided to end the franchise's brief era of big spending. The players traded by the Marlins have combined guaranteed salaries of 163.75 million through 2018, including 96 million due Reyes. The deals he and Buehrle signed when they joined Miami a year ago were heavily backloaded.Salaries for 2013 include 13.75 million for Johnson in the final year of his contract, 11 million for Buehrle and 10 million for Reyes. The net in guaranteed salaries coming off the Marlins' books is expected to be 154 million, which does not account for any cash that may be involved in the trade.Three years ago, the Marlins reached an agreement with the players' union to increase spending in the wake of complaints team payroll had been so small as to violate baseball's revenue sharing provisions. But the trade with Toronto leaves the Marlins with an estimated opening-day payroll of 34 million, which would be their lowest since 2008. Oakland had the lowest payroll in the majors last season at 59.5 million.Of the lineup that took the field for the festive first game in the new ballpark less than eight months ago, only two players remain -- Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison.Stanton tweeted that he was angry about the trade and changed his Twitter photo in an apparent protest, swapping out his Marlins uniform for a black shirt."I'm not saying fans can't be upset," Morrison tweeted to his 123,000 followers. "I'm saying I'm not going to get upset. I can't control it. So don't expect me to be upset."

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

The Patriots and Raiders and neck-and-neck as the race for home field in the AFC turns for home. And, with four games left, the Raiders are ahead by a nose. The tiebreakers between the 10-2 teams in play currently? Common games followed by strength of victory. 

The first tiebreaker – conference record – is a deadlock as both teams are 7-1 in the AFC (the Brady-less Patriots lost to the Bills back in Week 4.

After conference record, it's the teams record in common games. 

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

So far in common games with the Texans and Bills, the Patriots have gone 2-1 and the Raiders have gone 2-0. The Patriots play the Ravens next week. Oakland beat them. The Patriots play Denver after that. Oakland beat them as well but have one more game against Denver in Week 17.

So if it comes down to common games the Patriots really need to win these next two games.

Or hope the Raiders stub their toe a time or two in their final four games which are at the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos with a home game against Indy in Week 16.

As for strength of victory, that too goes to Oakland at this point. The Raiders’ strength of victory is at .471. The Patriots’ is at .370.

But the tiebreaker that kicks in after conference record and before strength of victory – common games – is very much unresolved.The remaining picture as it stands right now? The Ravens are the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record that leads the AFC North. The Texans’ 6-6 record is good enough to lead the AFC South. The 9-3 Chiefs are the top Wild Card. The 8-4 Broncos are the No. 6 seed.

The Patriots play the Ravens and Broncos over the next two weeks. Currently, the Dolphins (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) are on the outside looking in.

The Titans (6-6) will have a chance to get even with the Texans in Week 17 in head-to-head matchups but they host Denver and play at Kansas City the next two weeks so they have obstacles to clear before they get there.