During the baseball off season, the Miami Marlins were the toast of the town, or more aptly, Major League Baseball.
They weren’t afraid of spending money. They exemplified the ideal of “winning at all costs.” Literally. They went out and overspent on the likes of (former Met) Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle. Traded for Carlos Zambrano. And brought colorful manager Ozzie Guillen to rope these guys in.
As flamboyant as the team seemed to be, they paled in comparison to the flamenco-inspired **new** Marlins Park.
They even seemed to behave differently. Hanley Ramirez was rumored to not be happy about his BFF taking his job. But he got over it, and seemed happy with the idea of winning.
People anointed them winners of the NL East.
This was not your mama’s Marlins. Nooooo, they were going to win at all costs.
Till they didn’t.
Now, as of today, THIS is the Marlins we know and potentially love. The Marlins of the 16 fans, and low attendance. No, seriously, Forbes reported that their new stadium is drawing the fewest fans at a first year ballpark. From a Mets fan who is also a season ticket holder, I saw first hand how bad it was once the Mets started losing in 2009. Hard to imagine justifying spending money there, as a season ticket holder.
The Marlins of the fire sale. They have/had some good names but for some reason can’t get their act together as a team. Besides Bell, Buehrle, Reyes, there was Ramirez, along with Josh Johnson (coveted “ace” who has had a number of injuries in recent years), Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante…Oh and by the way, only three of those four latter names are still Marlins today.
Sanchez and Infante were traded to the Detroit Tigers, a difference a week makes going from a team that is now eight games under .500 to a team in the thick of its division race.
Ramirez, who was a coveted prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization at one point and was involved on the prospect end of a fire sale between the then-Florida Marlins and Sox in the winter of 2005, begrudgingly (or so the media wanted you to think) moved to third base to accommodate Reyes…only to be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With rumors that not only will Johnson be thrown on the auction block to see what interest there is for him (oh, and there will be, no question), the Marlins have made no bones that no one is safe…even Heath Bell, who has had a pretty lackluster year as the Miami closer.
Yes, folks. This is the Marlins we all know and love. This is the Marlins franchise that has…
Won two world championships? (not to mention, has had significant amount of no-hitters in their franchise history, which blows my mind).
I actually had someone make that argument with me today, when some of my friends and I on Twitter were joking around about the Marlins’ situation.
Yes, I do realize that in 50 years, the Mets have had only two championships. I also realize that the Mets have their shortcomings as well this season. This month hasn’t been a particularly easy one either.
But the Marlins are interesting. They have like 16 fans, their new park was supposed to draw more people to the park…and it hasn’t worked. So they go back to the plan that they know works. Which really isn’t a plan. It’s more like lack of one.
You know what though? Their championships? They were almost accidents! They’ve never won a division title (something the Mets have actually done), only to get into the World Series through the back door. Hey, more power to them.
But don’t cop to me like it was some sort of original “plan.” Far from it.
At the beginning of the season, everyone and their brother had their predictions. I was on a show where I was outnumbered. I said the Phillies, until they give me a reason not to believe it, would win the division (I’m thinking they’re giving me a reason). Most of the opinions on the show had the Marlins. I said that the Marlins could either be a one-hit wonder this year, or be a cast of characters that doesn’t do much.
I guess that balanced it out for me.
So Miami, I’m so happy you’ve returned, truly. You’ve been a beautiful audience. And I’m glad you stopped pretending you were a legitimate baseball organization, and gone back to what works for you.
Miami, you’ve got style!