Spring training 2014: Are the Red Sox wrong or are the Marlins awful?

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Why not both? SB Nation's GIF Tournament V

The Marlins care about the fans, everyone. They're really concerned about putting a quality product on the field, especially if the ticket buyers are expecting it. That leads to headlines like this:

Red Sox cheat Roger Dean Stadium fans with substandard travel roster

The first thing to remember is that I have a sign hanging above my desk that reads, "REMINDER: NOT EVERYTHING THE MARLINS DO IS AWFUL. BE OBJECTIVE." The second thing to remember is that sign replaced one that read "__ DAYS SINCE THE MARLINS LAST DID SOMETHING AWFUL." I think a goat ate it.

So let's be objective about this, as best as we possibly can. The parties involved:

Plaintiff: Miami Marlins

They're upset because they charged more money for tickets to watch the Red Sox, and the Red Sox didn't show up. They're … kind of right to be annoyed. Really, there are rules in place to prevent this sort of thing, as the Sun-Sentinel details.

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There should be four regulars in every lineup, which shouldn't be that hard once you include the starting pitcher. The Red Sox couldn't do it. The star was Jackie Bradley, Jr. That's not what the Marlins were expecting, mostly because the rules told them they should expect more. It's still a business, even for the Marlins.

Conclusion: Not awful

Defendant: Red Sox

They didn't want to send the good players, the ones with feelings and opinions, on a two-and-a-half-hour drive in a substantial storm to play a meaningless game. They sent a couple of youngsters you might have heard of, and a couple dozen you haven't.

Which makes sense. The baseball season is long, sure, but don't sleep on how long spring training is, too. It's a month of drifting aimlessly, a month of facing Zam Bingly, a 34th-round pick from Oral Roberts wearing #93, a month of working on a new pitch or slightly closed stance, a month of bus rides in a game of planes. It's fun. It sucks. It's beautiful, it's awful, it's spring training. So when the weather looks nasty, and when the drive is five hours, round trip, heck yes, you keep the good players to yourself.

Conclusion: Not awful

Named on another complaint: Fans

Not all of the fans. The people who were genuinely upset that Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz weren't in the lineup. You know they existed. The Marlins were outraged on their behalf. There was a family of four, with the little ones were wearing Pedroia shirseys, and they were crushed. The parents grumbled loudly when the lineups were announced, and they grumbled loudly when they left the park.

Here are some rules of spring training, then:

  1. Expect to see Garin Cecchinis. If there is no Garin Cecchini on the opposing team, one will be provided for you
  2. Consider yourself lucky to watch Garin Cecchini, as he's a legitimate prospect
  3. Do not expect stars
  4. Allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised when the stars play
  5. You are in a warm place watching baseball, and you are awful if you complain

Far be it from me to tell people how to enjoy something, but here's how you enjoy spring training, you silly people: You watch baseball instead of working, you have a beer instead of working, and you watch baseball instead of working. Remember sunscreen, pack a lunch if you need to, and watch baseball. Instead of working. You selfish twits.

The twist at the end: These fans probably don't exist. If they do, I'll guess they're rare. There probably weren't a lot of fans upset at the lineup. Everyone knows what they're buying when they get a spring-training ticket. The attraction is the sport, not the individual. That's not a secret.

That would mean the Marlins' outrage is a little misplaced. So, okay, they're slightly awful, after all.

It's spring training. There are people watching Jackie Bradley, Jr. playing baseball right now, and that's the thing that really annoys me: I'm not one of them. If they can't enjoy that because Bradley isn't David Ortiz, I have no sympathy. I have sympathy for the Marlins' complaints and for the decision made by the Red Sox. But anyone who thinks their $12 ticket was suddenly less valuable? Go away.

Leave the tickets, though. And some money for plane fare. I'm good for it.

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