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Patrick Hruby

David Sampson, the last honest man in sports

A wise man -- probably a lawyer; possibly Jesus during his less-beloved, hippie anti-capitalist turning-over-the-money-changin'-tables period -- once said that when somebody claims it's not about the money ... it's about the money.

Which brings me to David Sampson.

Hat tip to Deadspin on this: according to reports, Miami Marlins team president Sampson recently spoke to a group of local business leaders. The newsworthy part? He spoke candidly. As in: Sampson said the club's only real concern during negotiations to possibly move to San Antonio and Las Vegas was money. Not fans. Not winning. Not all of the bulls__t the rest of us find so important, when we're not arguing about who deserves the MVP award or shelling out for $80 team jerseys and $8 stadium beers.

Just money.


Quoth Sampson (via the Miami New Times, a consistently delightful source of muckraking, non-corporate sports news):

... "I don't have to hold back now that the stadium is built -- not that I ever have," Samson said ... [he then] told the crowd about his early negotiations to move the Marlins to either San Antonio or Las Vegas while stadium discussions had stalled in Dade.


[Sampson said] he took a meeting with Las Vegas's former mayor Oscar Goodman in a room full of four showgirls, and suggested that casinos would buy out all of team's tickets to ensure that no one left the strip to catch a ball game. 


"We don't care if nobody comes," Sampson said. "We'll play in front of nobody, and we'll have all the money."


Not coincidentally, this is exactly the same grift the Marlins have been running via MLB revenue sharing the last few years, and also the essence of their gargantuan rip-off of Florida taxpayers vis-a-vis their shiny new publicly-financed stadium. Sampson went on to add that prize free agent acquisition Jose Reyes joined the Marlins because they could "pay him $1 more than anyone else," which actually makes Reyes the perfect face of the franchise.

But I digress. Back to Sampson. The man is despicable. He deserves respect. Respect for being honest. Respect for not invoking pastoral rhythms and doing it all for the fans and emotionally distant fathers playing catch with their wounded sons and every other baseball huckster's trope. Respect for telling it like it is: sports fandom is about the money. Nothing more.


I wrote this the other day regarding the sudden crack-up of Clipper Darrell. Justin Halpern said basically the same thing on Grantland. Fandom is a one-way relationship: you care enough to open your wallet, and your favorite team takes advantage by extracting cash, and/or selling your attention to an eager advertiser. That's it.

A few months ago, I called on fans to Occupy the Marlins. Perhaps I was jumping the gun. Maybe we should start with ourselves.