Cameron dismayed at upheaval in Miami

616858.jpg

Cameron dismayed at upheaval in Miami

Mike Camerons major league career spanned parts of 17 seasons. From his big league debut in 1995 until his final game in 2011, he appeared in 1,955 games. In the last 45 games he was wearing a Marlins uniform.
 
Which is part of the reason he is so upset over Tuesdays blockbuster, 12-player trade between the Marlins and Blue Jays.
 
The Marlins sent pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto. The Blue Jays returned seven young players, including right-hander Henderson Alvarez, shortstop Yunel Escobar, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Jeff Mathis, minor leaguer pitchers Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani, and minor league outfielder Jake Marisnick.
 
Im just kind of passionate, Cameron said by phone Wednesday morning, because I was able to not only see it from afar but see it right in my face.  It just kind of ticked me off the way the Marlins are doing things and baseball is kind of allowing it.  Thats ridiculous. Basically, they lied to the people, they lied to everybody. You get a new stadium and then this happens? Thats not good for baseball.
 
Cameron was an 18th-round pick of the White Sox out of LaGrange High in Georgia in 1991, making his big league debut with the White Sox in 1995. He also played for the Mariners, Marlins, Mets, Padres, Brewers, Reds, and Red Sox.
 
Cameron joined the Marlins on July 5, 2011, in a trade from the Red Sox, after he was designated for assignment. Injuries marred his tenure with the Sox, appearing in just 81 games from the start of the 2010 season.  Cameron appeared in 45 games with the Marlins, hitting .238 with six home runs. He appeared in 40 games in the outfield, making 39 starts in center field.
 
I had kind of a bitter end to what was going on but I couldnt have felt better about going home. I told them that, he said. Ive always been a stand-up guy for everybody I played for. Every city Ive tried to be that type of person for an organization. I kind of took that to heart everywhere I went to. Thats why I would go back to everywhere I went to except I would never go back to the Marlins.
 
Im grateful for the opportunity and thats partly because of Jack McKeon a special assistant with the Marlins, who managed Cameron with the Reds. If he would have never called, I dont see it, just because I heard of what goes on. I got a lot of buddies that played down there. That aint how you do people, and thats not how you really do the business. But then again, there are people that are like that. So I guess you have to expect that.
 
What kind of stability are you showing your fans? At least try to give that to them.
 
As a prelude to opening their sparkling new Marlins Park, the Marlins made big splashes last offseason, with free agent signings of Reyes, Buehrle and right-hander Heath Bell. All are now gone. Tuesdays deal was not the first this year that dispatched several big names from Miami. Hanley Ramirez, right-hander Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante were all traded away during the season.  Since July, the Marlins have traded 12 players from their major league team.
 
 How do the Marlins now attract big-name free agents?
 
They cant, Cameron said. I mean, your six-year guys, guys that are trying to find jobs, maybe. But you cant really pull wool over guys eyes. And then you cant give them any security. I dont see guys that are free that would want to go down there with the circumstances that they have down there. Theres no stability. And where theres no stability, no guys would want to be there in that atmosphere.
 
Its a beautiful city, beautiful ballpark, one of the best places to play baseball.  Weve seen that with the two lightning-in-a-bottle, magic genie-type teams that won World Series in 1997 and 2003.  They had that down there. But you dont have no identity. Theres no identity at all.
 
A lot of guys would want to be there but not now. Any player looking around, theyre not going to want to be in a situation like that. Thats for sure.
 
The Marlins acquired several young players from the Blue Jays, giving Miami a chance to rebuild while significantly cutting payroll.  Cameron said its an unfortunate situation -- for both the young players and the fans.
 
I understand that there are some stakes in the business world, he said. And that just happens to be one of them. I just hate it for the kids down there. I hate it for the media relations people. Honestly, players come and go all the time and they change all the time. But theres always one or two guys thats been in a place for five or six years somewhere. I know the nature of the business changes. But how can you become an effective member of the community or try to help out the community when youre constantly running folks in and out of town like that? Its not trustworthy. Everyones trying to get a little bit of trust out of somebody, although it is a shrewd business world because of the money thats involved. But that just shows that there wont be any connection at all.
 
While the Red Sox engineered a similar, blockbuster, organization-changing mega-deal with the Dodgers in August, the nature of the two deals is very different, Cameron said, with one main qualification.
 
The Red Sox dont do this every year, he said. And plus I would think that the Red Sox had to make this move. They needed that more than anybody. They needed that to give themselves an opportunity to kind of refresh everything. They were starting to get old real fast and in a place like Boston, thats not acceptable. In Miami, they accept it. In Miami thats what theyre used to or accustomed to. So you dont have a true connection. In Boston you have a true connection with the people. And you need to compete every year. And when youre competing with the Yankees and now the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays and also the Toronto Blue Jays, you got to try to reinvent yourself in a way.
 
What would he recommend to commissioner Bud Selig?
 
I dont think Bud sees it the same way everyone else sees it, Cameron said. I dont know why they let the Marlins do the same thing over and over every year. I just think they take the situation for granted and they just use it as like chess pieces down there.
 
Perhaps now the market will have a chance to weigh in. Despite the big-name acquisitions in the offseason, the Marlins finished last in the National League East, with a record better than only the Cubs and the Astros in the NL.  And despite their brand new ballpark, the Marlins drew an average of just 27,401 to Marlins Park in 2012. It was an improvement over their NL-worst home attendance of 19,007 in 2011, but it was a better home average than just four other teams in the National League in 2012 Arizona, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Houston.
 
Well see, Cameron said. If the fans want to make a statement, they definitely can. Obviously thats been the case for a while now. Its a beautiful place to play baseball. Its a great city. A lot of players would love it. Its warm, and then you have the controlled climate with the retractable roof of Marlins Park. But the people who are running that situation, it makes it really hard to draw people. I dont care how much money youre offering. Some players may go anywhere for the money, but the Marlins dont have a trustworthy situation. So they dont want to go there.

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

penguins_guentzel_052917.jpg

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

bryce_harper_hunter_strickland_fight_052917.jpg

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.