The Marlins’ dismissal of Tommy Hutton after 19 years as their TV analyst not only stands as the worst broadcasting personnel decision ever made by a South Florida team, but the reason being whispered privately seems particularly unjustified.
According to a source in close contact with the Marlins, the team believed Hutton was too negative – a criticism that isn’t valid if examining his full body of work.
Hutton was critical when necessary and had a penchant for unleashing the occasional playful rant, but there’s a distinction between critical and excessively negative.
When there was something positive to say, Hutton said it. He never blasted Marlins management. But he rarely sugarcoated poor play.
“I know there were times I was negative, but I thought those times were called for,” he said. “Ninety percent of what I said was positive. I tried not to be a homer, but you could tell I wanted the Marlins to do well.”
After being told that his salary wasn’t a factor in the decision, Hutton suspected that his candid, blunt analysis might be the impetus for his ouster.
So after learning his fate on Monday, he asked that question – whether they thought he was too negative — to both a Fox producer (at a meeting at Starbucks) and the Marlins’ vice president/communications (by phone).
He said the question was met with silence by both executives.
“I couldn’t get a yes or a no,” he said.
Hutton said there have been only three incidents in recent years in which a Marlins employee expressed discomfort with something he said. Hutton relayed all three — and nothing he said seemed out of line or inappropriate — but he was willing to discuss only one of the three on the record.
That one involved former Marlins catcher John Buck. When Buck flied out to the deepest part of Marlins Park to end a game, Hutton shouted “in any other park!” — meaning the ball would have been a home run in a stadium with more hitter-friendly dimensions.
He said a Marlins vice president called him after the game and said that owner Jeffrey Loria prefer he not mention the ballpark’s dimensions.
“Did I complain about the park being too big? Yeah,” Hutton said, noting the dimensions are being changed this off-season. “But if that was the reason, they knew that the day after the season. I didn’t say anything negative the last six weeks.”
Hutton said no player ever complained to him, but if anyone had a complaint, he made himself visible. “I was always in the clubhouse and on the field,” he said. “I know a lot of announcers who just go to the booth.”
Meanwhile, WINZ’s Andy Slater reported that on numerous occasions after games, players complained to the public relations staff or Loria about comments Hutton made on the broadcast. Slater said Loria didn’t like it when Hutton “would talk too much” about another team’s player — something I’ve also heard.
Hutton still doesn’t know whether it was the Marlins or Fox that wanted him gone — they said it was mutual decision – but the source close to the Marlins indicated the negativity complaint was voiced by the team.
Read the rest of this article in the Miami Herald where it was originally published