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Tino Martinez speaks

Jul 30, 2013, 8:55 AM EDT

tino martinez getty Getty Images

Ken Rosenthal has an exclusive interview with Tino Martinez, who recently resigned as the Marlins hitting coach amid allegations that he was physically and verbally abusive to players. It’s a fantastic interview in which Martinez does what people involved in clubhouse controversies rarely do: he says exactly what happened between him and the players who have accused him.

You need to read this in Martinez’s own words to get the full flavor — he provides a dialog-based play-by-play of the encounters — but the upshot is that Martinez, on two occasions, asked players to do something entirely reasonable — help other players pick up balls in the batting cage — only to have them pull some “why should I?” thing. Martinez said that he used profanity to correct the players’ behavior in both instances, and in one grabbed one of the players by the jersey and maybe pushed him back.

Now, that’s Martinez’s side of the story. It’s possible that the players involved have different stories and we can’t be 100% sure who is right without being there. And we can’t say whether or not Martinez’s acts were provoked or justified or, alternatively, whether they were out of bounds regardless of provocation.

But it’s fascinating that Martinez is opening up like this and well worth a read.

  1. untamedride - Jul 30, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    these kids just don’t respect their elders

    • Glenn - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      It’s rampant these days. Try being a teacher or coach.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        I find it completely unproductive to give attitude to students. If you think they are crappy, that’s what they’ll give you. It is absolutely not my job to make them think or be the “right” way. It’s my job to help them be a better them. I am there to assist, not compel.

        Also, people thought the same thing 50 years ago about kids. It’s how it is.

      • Reflex - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:02 PM

        Yeah, every generation thinks kids ‘these days’ are rampantly disrespectful and going nowhere. They have found rants about this on tablets in Sumeria. Its hilarious how every generation thinks they are fighting something new, when the reality is its been claimed since literally the beginning of civilization about every new generation, always while forgetting that they were viewed the same way by their elders…

    • pinkfloydprism - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      Even after reading the article, all of the people involved sound like assbags.

  2. kingjoe1 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Just a bunch of punk ass kids playing baseball these days. We need more Tino’s and less Dr Phil’s.

    • southofheaven81 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      Cocky little baby fucks should maybe get better at hitting before they tattle that a living legend was mean to them.

      • Bryz - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:54 AM

        Maybe it’s different for Yankee fans, but there’s no way I’d consider Tino a “living legend.”

  3. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    Woody Hayes was simply tring to make sure that Clemson players helmet didn’t fall off.

    Tino never had any sort of temper that anyone ever saw in his big league days, so the whole story of this tempest struck me as bizarre to begin with. But it seems to me he is really playing up the “Oh these players are spoiled angle” too much. Perhaps players are. But I can’t recall many coaches being forced to resign due to “spolied players”. I think there is more to the story then he is saying.

    Perhaps the additional parts still paint a picture that he really didn’t do anythign bad, but I for one think there is more then he is saying

    • tomemansky - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:24 AM

      I tend to agree. Assuming that he would want to paint the best picture of his behavior, he comes across as not having the inability to deal with issues beyond aggressively confronting others. Unless this a problem exclusive to the Marlins, 29 other hitting coaches likely have to instill the same ‘Big League values’ in their less experienced players, yet we don’t hear stories about other incidents.

    • kevinbnyc - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      Honestly, I’d find it harder to believe that a lot of the kids the Marlins have playing for them this year AREN’T spoiled little brats. First time up in the majors, a lot of them already seem to think highly of themselves (see: Jose Fernandez). Maybe he went a little too far with the physical contact, but you can hardly blame him for reacting with considerable vitriol to them being the antithesis of what he was as a player.

      • tomemansky - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        But wouldn’t that be a coaching flaw, expecting everyone to act as he did? I’d like to think that as a coach, you learn to deal with different personalities and use motivation methods that are best for the individual, and not a one size fits all, do everything like I did. Then again, maybe this is due to his lack of experience as a coach.

      • kevinbnyc - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        I mean…I obviously don’t think so. And I don’t think these incidents are necessarily a fair representation of his abilities as a coach. I’d like to think a grown man would be willing to pitch in and help his teammates out without having to be told, or when asked, they’d willingly step up. I can definitely understand Martinez getting frustrated to the point of snapping like he did, since he was effectively dealing with a few guys in their late 20s/early 30s who were acting like 4 year olds that didn’t want to help clean up.

  4. mybrunoblog - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Wait. Martinez asked a big leaguer to pick up someone else’s balls in the batting cage? Most big leaguers haven’t carried luggage since they were in the minors, have clubhouse kids do all their errands and get treated like kings wherever they go. Tino really wants them to actually bend over and pick up a baseball? The outrage!
    Sounds like one or two of these guys “big leagued” Tino and he lost his temper. End of story.

    • bigharold - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:52 AM

      He should have never used profanity.

      He should have merely asked. And, when they asked why he should have said; “Because I’m Tino Martinez, because I have 4 WS rings and you don’t, and because I said so bitch”.

      Bitch is technically not profanity.

  5. stoutfiles - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    Tino, it’s not your fault Loria gave you a horrible roster to work with. Just stop talking and everyone will forget about this, and then you can go work for a real team.

  6. southofheaven81 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    I would scrub the dirt out of the entire team’s cleats if a legend like Tino Martinez was nice enough to give me some hitting pointers. Cocky fucks should maybe figure out that they’re on maybe the worst team in baseball & act accordingly.

    • voteforno6 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      I didn’t realize that Tino Martinez is a legend. And, by the sound of it, Tino wasn’t exactly being nice.

      • southofheaven81 - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:54 AM

        He is compared to every Marlin except for maybe Stanton one day.

  7. voteforno6 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    There has to be more to it than this, and there probably is, since this is just one person’s version of the events in question. That being said, Martinez still comes off as a bit of an a-hole, who seems to be really fixated on picking up baseballs. Some people have a hard time remembering that the coach/player dynamic is fundamentally different in professional sports than it is in school. In the pro leagues, coaches and players are co-workers. Tino Martinez sounds like he was a very unpleasant one.

    • stoutfiles - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      Tino could be the biggest a-hole on the planet. but the fact is the Marlins are near the bottom in almost all the hitting categories, and the players don’t even seem to care, so it’s only natural Tino was going to lose it.

      • voteforno6 - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:26 AM

        Once again, we’ve only heard from Tino. It’s a bit of a stretch to assume that the players don’t care. Just from reading the linked article, it sounds like there was a breakdown in communication between Martinez and some of the players. He could have the best hitting ideas in the world, but if players aren’t receptive to his message, then it wouldn’t matter what he has to say. Not picking up the baseballs could just be the MacGuffin here.

  8. Francisco (FC) - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    I think this is where Tino’s lack of coaching experience is showing. Another coach with years of guiding contrary baseball players might have found a way to be persuasive without being verbally abusive.

  9. jjschiller - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Well, yeah. It sounds to me like the actual altercations have been way overblown, and make Tino look like he was way more out of line than he was.

    But then Rosenthal kind of hand-waves away the incidents with Matt Downs like they’re nothing:

    “I kind of did it in a frustrated way. ‘You don’t trust me as a hitting coach? If you don’t want to work with me, you don’t have to work with me anymore.’”

    The Sun-Sentinel also reported that Martinez challenged first baseman Casey Kotchman to a fight. Martinez did not directly address that claim but took responsibility for the disagreement.

    “That’s probably the only one I regret — he’s a good guy,” Martinez said. “I questioned his injury (a strained left hamstring that Kotchman suffered on April 5). I shouldn’t have done that. I felt bad about doing that.”

    That sounds to me like a guy who might have been in a little over his head. So, yeah, not history’s greatest monster. But run out of town for defending truth and beauty or something.

    • jjschiller - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      ***But NOT run out of town etc, etc.

  10. Liam - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    People need to lay off Tino. As the Bible says in John 8:7

    “May he who hit a 9th inning game trying two run home run in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series cast the first stone.”

  11. Old Gator - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    And where are the three players in question? One of them is on the DL but would be in the minors if he weren’t; one is on the Feesh and barely hitting his weight, and preparing for a dip in Rio Mendoza, and the other one is back in AA where he should have been left to play out the season in the first place. Yeah, I agree with southofheaven: I’d’ve picked up the balls, shut up, and learned everything I could have from a guy who had been there, done that, and done it so well.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      You’re right but there are just no winners here. The kids who couldn’t be coached, the coach who reacted in a counter-productive fashion, the owners who created the oppressive club environment, and especially the fans.

      BTW I just picked up Miles From Our Home and 2/3 of the Border Trilogy on the same used books & music shopping trip. Gatorrrr-ifffice!

      • unclemosesgreen - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:15 AM

        err. – iffffic

    • tomemansky - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      Is the status of the players relevant to the behavior in question though? I don’t think he acted appropriately whether the player was Justin Ruggiano or Giancarlo Stanton.

      • Old Gator - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        It’s relevant insofar as the same stubborness or egotism that kept them from respecting an accomplished and experienced mentor might have something to do with their inability to listen, learn and improve their skills. I didn’t mean to justify Tino’s behavior. He may have as much to learn about coaching as they seem to need to learn about hitting. Based on this interview, though, and on Tino’s long career as a guy who did his job and didn’t make waves, I have to grant him the benefit of the doubt at this point.

      • tomemansky - Jul 30, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        OG, that’s fair. I think this was a bad combination of players who should have respected an authority figure and an inexperienced coach who tried to set a tone from Day 1, regardless of whether it was the right message for the players.

    • Old Gator - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      Mo: Miles from Our Home, eh? Good choice – there are some real classics on it like “Good Friday,” “Blue Guitar” and “Hollow as a Bone.” “Hollow” is a great tribute to old black and white movie romances. There are some wonderful acoustic concert versions of it out on the grapevine, too. “Blue Guitar” is an oblique reference to the Wallace Stevens poem “The Man with the Blue Guitar,” although Mike Timmins never read the poem before he wrote the song – it was a kind of tribute to Townes Van Zandt who had kicked around the song idea with Mike before he died, and Van Zandt was an English major who knew Stevens….complicated stuff. No matter. There are live versions of that song that are, I guess you could say, the Junkies’ “Dark Star.” And of course there’s “Summer of our Discontent” channeling Shakespeare – check out the lyrics (ie, “another stroke of evil pen,” etc.). “Good Friday” is the epic on the album. Mike seems to be expelling all his growing-up-Catholic brainwashing there. Great song. I have a video of a performance wherein Margo sings it as a duet with Karin Bergquist from Over the Rhine – oh boy.

      Hope you’ve got a good stereo in that beat up truck of yours.

  12. ctony1216 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Next time, just post the Rules of the Batting Cage: #1 Players waiting to hit must help pick up baseballs of previous hitter.”
    Very simple.

    Tino is a good guy. He’ll learn.

  13. icanspeel - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    It’s a good read.. I can see where Tino is coming from, but at the same time it sounds like he may have some anger issues also.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      I don’t think it’s anger at all. Having no experience at coaching he decided to use an intimidating approach when confronted by contrary ballplayers. He probably based his experience on the style of coaches when HE was starting out as a young ball player and thought he could make it work the same way. But times change and what worked in a previous generation doesn’t necessarily work in today’s environment.

  14. sandrafluke2012 - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Does anyone know any statistical saber metric studies on what type of coaching or parenting works?

  15. addictedzone - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Rules to live by for a prospective Hitting Coach:

    Rule 1: A lifetime .271 BA doesn’t warrant instant respect.
    Rule 2: If your prowess as a hitting coach has manufactured the worst team BA in all of baseball, people are going to stop listening to you.
    Rule 3: There might be an opening for a manager in Visalia next spring.

    • Old Gator - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      You could invert all of those rules very easily. 1. A lifetime 271 BA is balanced by the number of championship rings you wear and the number of clutch performances you delivered, not to mention your service time; 2: if you’ve been handed nothing but garbage, underaged or unripe ballplayers to work with by a cheapskate owner, they’re arrogant and egotistical into the bargain and have to learn the major league ropes in a clubhouse already intoxicated with a losing mentality, there’s not a whole lot you can do with them, and 3. if you can’t yet function as a coach, managing isn’t going to be any kinder to you.

      • addictedzone - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:50 PM

        You’re right. And with utter disrepect to Bull Durham, I’ll change #3 to:
        There might be an opening for a hitting coach in Visalia next spring.

  16. kinggeorge96 - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Tell all these spoiled kids to Get Off My Lawn!

  17. tigersfandan - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    I feel bad for Placido Polanco.

  18. anxovies - Jul 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Tino has absolutely no rep for losing his cool. I am guessing that he was being kind to the players involved and the circumstances that brought on his reaction were more aggravating than he is saying. Remember that he played for solid organizations like the Yankees, Tampa Bay and the Cardinals, and trying to change the Mickey Mouse culture of the Marlins organization has to be a thankless task.

  19. sawxalicious - Jul 31, 2013 at 2:08 AM

    As a veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry, I can say that I really don’t care if some guys being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to play my favorite game get their feelings hurt. I know they didn’t sign up for the military, but come on! I’m willing to bet Tino was 100 times nicer than any of the Drill Sergeants I had in Basic Training. Were the DIs mean just to be mean? No, they were trying to get us mentally tough. Baseball is a grind, and if those guys want to take their team to the next level (AAA, lol), they need to stop bitching and start showing some results.

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