When the scoreboard screen showed the rapper Lil Wayne sitting in the stands, Miami Marlins catcher John Buck sitting in the corner of his teams dugout between innings was moved to break into rhyme with a quick little rap of his own. Midway through it, to his horror, he saw the television crew in the camera well across the way laughing hysterically.
There I am, doing some cheesy little rap like a redneck from Utah, he recalls, and when I saw them laughing, I remembered, Oh, [bleep], Im wearing a microphone tonight. I looked at the crew and shook my head no, like, youre not gonna use that. And they shook their heads yes, like, Oh yes we will.
And just like that, another Marlin player had learned his lesson: The Franchise camera is always watching. Crews from Showtimes inside-the-locker-room series have been trailing the team since spring training, recording every belch, blink, joke, sneer and snort; every pat on the head and every cutting aside.
When relief pitcher Heath Bell, who signed with the Marlins as a free-agent this year, saw his children for the first time in weeks during a road trip to San Diego, The Franchise cameras were there. When manager Ozzie Guillens eyes filled with tears back in the clubhouse after a news conference announcing his suspension for singing the praises of Fidel Castro, The Franchise cameras were there.
And, more than once, when Marlins players in the locker room drop their towels after a shower, The Franchise cameras have been there. Youre talking to them, you get involved in the conversation, the towel slips, and its, oh, hello there, Buck says. Were still learning to be more careful about that.
The Franchise raised eyebrows among sports and viewers (it had an average audience of just under a million, a very big deal in our universe, says David Nevins, the premium-cable networks programming chief) when it debuted last year, following the defending world champion San Francisco Giants for a year. TV shows had gotten to peek inside the locker rooms of pro sports teams before, but never during the regular season.
But The Franchises look at the Marlins which debuts on July 11 takes everything a giant step further, with cameras going into meetings among the teams executives, where the talk is all hardball (pun definitely intended.)
The shows cameras were in the room when Guillen, looking like he was about to vomit, was told by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson that he was being suspended. Theyve been there when Loria and Samson scornfully dismissed a proposal from slumping third baseman Hanley Ramirezs agent for a contract extensions. (Im just amazed he thinks the time to do it is when hes hitting .220, Samson said, rolling his eyes.) And when Samson derided his own promotional efforts.
Mothers Day is the worst [bleepin] day to host a game, Samson complained.
At least we have nice bracelets for the mothers that come, Loria interjected. I may even pick one up.
Itll turn your wrist green, Samson warned him.
Weve become the fly on the wall, says Franchise field producer Mary Gaynin. We watch and listen, and they just dont notice us. The other day, the crew was sitting near the door to Ozzie Guillens office when Heath Bell [who for several weeks had been pitching badly, blowing games] came walking toward it, hard and fast. Obviously something was going to happen. We just followed him inside the office, and when he shut the door, nobody told us to get out.