Ozzie lands in the unemployment line

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Ozzie lands in the unemployment line

From Comcast SportsNetMIAMI (AP) -- The lingering backlash caused by Ozzie Guillen's praise of Fidel Castro contributed to another Miami Marlins managerial shakeup Tuesday.Guillen was fired after only one year with the team, undone by too many losses and one too many ill-advised remarks.A promising season began to derail in April with his laudatory comments about Cuba's former leader. Six months later, the episode was a factor in the decision to fire Guillen, Marlins officials said."Let's face it. It was not a positive for the team; it was not a positive for Ozzie," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "It was a disappointment, no doubt about it."A lousy team didn't help, either. The Marlins took high hopes into their new ballpark following an offseason spending spree but finished last in the NL East at 69-93, their worst record since 1999.Miami's next manager will be the fifth for owner Jeffrey Loria since early 2010. The latest change comes even though Marlins still owe Guillen 7.5 million for the three years remaining on his contract."We all felt we had a pretty good ballclub coming out of spring training, and we just didn't play well," Beinfest said. "We all share in this. This is not a fun day for me, certainly not for Ozzie or Jeffrey or anybody involved. This is an organizational failure. But we felt like we needed to make this change so we could move forward."There had speculation that Beinfest's job might also be in jeopardy, but he'll continue in his current role. The search for a new manager has just begun, he said."We could definitely use some stability in the dugout," said Beinfest, who has been with the Marlins since Loria bought the team in 2002. "We're looking for a winner. At times we've done a better job of identifying that individual. Other times we haven't. We're going to try to find the right guy this time."On Twitter, Guillen said the firing left him with "my head held up high, real high.""To the fans that support me and for those who are happy as well my love and respect to you," Guillen tweeted. "In life there are worse things and I have experienced them. I have lived through bad moments and I will get through this with support."In spring training, Guillen touted his team as well balanced and ready to win. But a dismal June took the Marlins out of contention for good, and management dismantled the roster in July.The season went sour from the start. Guillen's comments praising Castro in a magazine interview angered Cuban Americans, who make up a large segment of the Marlins' fan base. The Venezuelan manager apologized repeatedly at a news conference for his remarks, then began serving a five-game suspension only five games into his stay with the team."That was a very, very hard situation for me and the people around me," Guillen said in September. "It was maybe the worst thing I ever did."Marlins officials believe the damage was lasting. They blame disappointing attendance at the new ballpark in part over lingering fan resentment about the Castro comments.The decision to fire Guillen came on the eve of the World Series, nearly three weeks after the Marlins' final game, following a lengthy assessment of what went wrong this year."Everybody wanted to take a step back," Beinfest said. "It was really an organizational decision."Guillen was returning Tuesday from a vacation in Spain and was informed of his dismissal by phone by Beinfest in a brief conversation.Guillen left the Chicago White Sox a year ago after eight seasons. Some 24 hours later he sealed a four-year deal with the Marlins, where he was a third-base coach for the 2003 World Series championship team."I feel like I'm back home," he said at the time.Loria traded two minor league players to obtain Guillen and gave him a team-record 10 million, four-year deal. But by June, the Marlins had fallen below .500 for good.Despite the frustrations of losing, the talkative, opinionated, profane Guillen kept his cool for the most part, and he repeatedly accepted responsibility for the team's performance. Mindful of speculation his job might be in jeopardy, he said two weeks before the end of the season he was glad he rented a house in Miami rather than buying when he took the job."With the job I did this year, do you think I deserve to be back here?" Guillen said on the final day of the season. "Of course not. But I'm not the only one. ... Let's start from the top. The front office failed, Ozzie failed, the coaching staff failed, the players failed, everybody failed."In December, the Marlins signed All-Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to contracts worth a combined 191 million. But Bell was a bust as the closer, and the Marlins were plagued by poor hitting, especially in the clutch.Bell was traded last week to Arizona.In the Marlins' 20 seasons they have reached the postseason only twice, as wild-card teams in 1997 and 2003. Both times they won the World Series.Under Loria they have usually been among baseball's thriftiest teams. With attendance and revenue falling short of projections this year, the spending binge of last offseason ago is unlikely to be repeated."We need to spend some time redefining ourselves in conjunction with a new manager," Beinfest said. "I can't tell you exactly what the Marlin way is today."

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.