As I was exiting Marlins Park after an exciting Memorial Day victory and heading to leave through the Third Base Garage, I came across a plethora of Marlins players of whom were leaving the ballpark as well. I saw Austin Kearns, Donovan Solano and Logan Morrison among others leave the Stadium. Yet the departure that most caught my attention was that of Steve Cishek. A chorus of boos erupted as soon as Cishek emerged from his safe haven inside the ballpark . The young reliever was showing off his Boston Celtic’s jersey on the same night as a critical game 1 between Boston and the local favorite Miami Heat. While it is clear that Cishek, a Massachusetts native, was merely supporting his local basketball team, this action emitted mass outrage and distrust from his own fans. A clear measure in declaring his support for his hometown, Cishek knowingly incited a negative fan reaction. With that being said, should professional athletes be enabled to support rivals from other cities in public on one’s own home turf?
Any franchise seeks positive relations within the community it resides. As such, players in general provide service as evidenced with the Marlins Ayudan effort throughout Spring Training to strengthen community support while providing a clear service. While this clearly increases the bond between a team and its community, actions such as Cishek’s especially in a region without a long standing history of fan support may limit the development of this essential bond. With this in mind one would think that it would be team policy to limit such action. Yet, the new Ballpark having invigorated the fan base has unquestionably strengthened the bond between the Marlins and the city of Miami. This is as evidenced by the current lack of fallout of the Ozzie Guillen fiasco or lack of overall protest with regards to the overall Stadium Deal. At the current moment, the bond between the team and fans has been as strong as it has ever been. Thus no action taken would jeopardize the franchises long term interests.
The Marlins generally operate on the philosophy that all press is good press meaning that any exposure in the media whatsoever is beneficial in marketing the team. As such, the Marlins would not attempt to manage or censor player’s loyalties to teams of other sports. With that being said, teams should not be able to censor the loyalty of a player to another city. However, the heart of the matter depends upon the nature of the situation, team history and role within the local media market.