Fish Bytes

Drama? What drama? Marlins’ Mattingly not fazed by off-field headlines

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly speaks to the media during the first day of spring training on Tuesday.
Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly speaks to the media during the first day of spring training on Tuesday. El Nuevo Herald

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said recent reports of the team’s potential sale and owner Jeffrey Loria perhaps becoming U.S. ambassador to France are not a distraction.

“I can’t worry about things I can’t control,” Mattingly said. “It’s the same with this ball club. You play professionally, you know how to cut out distractions. And so anything that would be peripheral to that, to me, is just noise.”

If anyone should know, it’s Mattingly.

During Mattingly’s first two seasons managing the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011 and ’12, the team generated as many headlines off the field than they did on it. The Dodgers’ then-owner, Frank McCourt, was going through a messy divorce, the team filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, and Major Baseball took control of day-to-day operations of the club.

Eventually, the team was sold.

“It was more of a soap opera, for sure,” Mattingly said.

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly talks to the media on Feb. 14, 2017.

For the Marlins, the team has made more news away from the diamond over the past week than it has on it.

First, it was revealed that Loria had a preliminary agreement in place to sell the franchise to a group led by New York City venture capitalist Joshua Kushner — the brother of President Trump’s son-in-law — and Joseph Meyer.

Then came a report Wednesday that Loria was being considered by the White House as the next U.S. ambassador to France, a country where Loria spends time buying art.

Finally, late Wednesday, Meyer issued a statement to the New York Times saying that the group would withdraw from negotiations to purchase the team if Loria was named ambassador, perhaps to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

“Our family has been friends with Jeff Loria for over 30 years, been in business together, and even owned an AAA baseball team together,” Meyer told the Times. “Although the Kushners have made substantial progress in discussions for us to purchase the Marlins, recent reports suggest that Mr. Loria will soon be nominated by the President to be ambassador to France.

“If that is true, we do not want this unrelated transaction to complicate that process and will not pursue it. The Kushners remain interested in purchasing a team and would love to buy the Marlins at another time.”

Mattingly said he has tried not to pay attention to any of it.

“None of that stuff has anything to do with us winning games,” Mattingly said. “It’s not like we’re getting updates and getting information. We don’t control it.”

Mattingly said it was the same when he was with the Dodgers.

“Even though there was a lot of talk about it, and a lot of noise about it, it didn’t really change anything I tried to do,” he said. “I was still trying to get my club ready to play, preparing to win a game each night. And it really is as simple as that, even though the stories keep coming and they’re going to be out there. It really has nothing to do with what we, at field level, are trying to do.”

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