The New York Mets have fired assistant director of player development Nick Francona after he publicly denounced Major League Baseball for profiting “off the memory of dead soldiers.” The former U.S. Marine (and son of Indians Manager Terry Francona) criticized the league for failing to disclose who’s entitled to the proceeds of military-themed apparel sales (worn by players on Memorial Day); products that are marketed and sold as officially licensed merchandise. Francona reportedly repeatedly requested evidence from the league that the proceeds were being donated to charities connected with military families, but was rebuffed each time; leading him to take a public stand on social media. In email correspondence provided to the New York Post, Mets GM Sandy Alderson stated Francona’s actions were “beginning to ‘undermine’ the Mets military and veterans agenda”; ultimately, the reason for his firing. Francona has called the franchise “cowardly” for caving to the pressures of the league office as opposed to standing up for what is right; the Commissioner’s Office has denied the allegations.
Howie Long-Short: “Paid patriotism” isn’t a new concept or one originated by Major League Baseball. Back in 2016, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake blasted the NFL (and other pro leagues) for taking government funding to honor military personnel (think flag displays, family reunions). An internal audit found that between ’12-’15, the NFL signed contracts worth $6.1 million that contained elements of “paid patriotism”. To the league’s credit, they did return $723,000+ to the Defense Department; “the first organization to perform due diligence, take responsibility and return funds to the taxpayers” (according to Flake). Wondering who the biggest pigs were? Atlanta ($879,000), New England ($700,000) and Buffalo ($650,000).
Fan Marino: On the surface, it seems as if Francona has been wronged; but this isn’t the first time he’s brought negative attention on his employer. Francona was previously fired by the Dodgers after accusing the team’s director of player development (Gabe Kapler) of discriminating against him for seeking help from an organization that supports veterans with “invisible wounds of war”. MLB investigated the complaint and decided not to take action.
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