Normally, the demotion of a 2nd year player who is hitting .251 on a bad team wouldn’t warrant a mention. But in today’s social media world, if that player is a Twitter Superstar Logan Morrison @LoMoMarlins it is going to move the needle and create some buzz.
Morrison has shown he is not afraid to tweet what he is thinking in an honest and refreshing way. While it has gotten him some heat from management (he ripped ownership when the team fired pitching coach John Mallee) it has also made him one of the most popular Marlins on a team struggling to please a fan base as they move into a new stadium next season. His popularity even extends to division rivals, as Phillies fans have come to appreciate his work. He also is ranked in the unscientific Top 100 athletes on Twitter, according to SportsIllustrated.com
The truth is, Morrison is a guy who had a solid but unspectacular rookie season (.285 2 HR, 18 RBI in 62 Games) but along with Mike Stanton, provided a glimmer of hope for the young inexperienced team that needed someone to step up to lead the team along with established stars Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson. He has made himself a better baseball player in the fans eyes simply by being interesting on line. It is very similar to how WWE wrestler Zack Ryder has made himself immensely popular with the WWE Universe simply by creating a YouTube show called Z! True Long Island Story where he proclaims himself as the WWE’s Internet Champion. In the same vein, Ryder was ignored (and even punished by management) until he is finally being given a chance to shine.
Earlier this season, Morrison stood up to Ramirez after a clubhouse incident. In the baseball world, where there is usually a clear hierarchy of veteran leadership, it was shocking that a player with less than 100 games under his belt would take on an established superstar. Nobody would have blinked had a fringe player like Wes Helms spoken up, after all he was the veteran presence in the clubhouse. I say was, because along with Morrison’s demotion to the AAA New Orleans Zephyrs, the team released Helms.
When Morrison asked what the reason was for his demotion, the answer only leads to more speculation.
“They didn’t give me anything,” Morrison said. “I asked for an explanation and the one I got was, ‘What are you hitting, .240?’ “
Now that would normally be a decent excuse to send down a 2nd a year player, but consider that Hanley Ramirez is batting .243, Catcher John Buck is hitting .227, Chris Coghlan is hitting .230 and Mike Cameron was brought in to hit .208. Even the teams lone all-star Gaby Sanchez is hitting .271. It seems curious that that would be the excuse.
The fact is that he recently missed a photo opportunity with season ticket holders (as endangered a species in Florida as the manatee), coupled with his twitter presence and you have to believe the team may be sending a message to humble their young star. He tweeted the following
According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post blog Fish Tank, the reason for missing the photo shoot was Morrison taking a stand.
Earlier in the day, he refused to participate in a photo session with season ticket holders at Sun Life Stadium. That might sound surprising, given Logan’s outgoing personality and popularity with fans, but apparently there were some hard feelings related to earlier promotional activities.
I know that this past Thursday — a Marlins off day — Logan canceled a charity bowling tournament in Miami because he said the Florida Marlins Community Foundation “dropped the ball” and didn’t sell enough lanes in advance.
Logan wasn’t happy about that. And there apparently were some other events in which players were supposed to participate. There was also an autograph signing earlier Saturday, which Logan participated in. But he put his foot down and did not participate in the photo session with season ticket holders.
I can’t say I completely agree with Morrison because in the end, fans who go to the game are more important than fans who follow him on Twitter, but he felt the team slighted his charitable event so he took a stand. I can respect that.
Keith Olbermann, outspoken in his own right, has taken up the defense of Morrison on his twitter. (I recommend reading the whole timeline, he really goes in on the Marlins)
Hopefully this is only temporary and both sides can come back and hug it out. Maybe Morrison did need to be humbled and maybe he needs to find his swing in AAA, time will tell. The AAA season has only 3 weeks left, so it will be telling to see if this was a “timeout” or a “go away”. If it ends up being longer than three weeks, I see #FreeLoMo becoming bigger than #FreeBruce (referring to ESPN writer Bruce Feldman’s “suspension” for his involvement in a Mike Leach Book)
For his part, Morrison did address his demotion by thanking his fans for their support.
I do have 2 burning questions.
Does his demotion mean he now has to use MySpace and does he have to change his twitter handle to @LoMoZephyrs