Ah, what a difference a year makes. It seems so long ago that the excitement of a new ballpark, a new roster flush with talent and an exciting new manager was the talk of baseball. In the spring of 2012, Marlins fans had added a new word to their vocabulary, optimism. After all, the normally frugal Marlins had gone on a free agent blitz, making moves to sign big name free agents, and falling just short on others. Fast forward a year and that optimism that surrounded the franchise is now gone, only to be replaced by other adjectives. Misery, embitterment and anger are all perfect words to describe the emotional state of Marlins fans at the moment.
Gone are all of the big name free agents signed by the franchise in the winter of 2011. While some may argue that the trades were good baseball moves, and I happen to be one of them, you cannot help but feel betrayed by the moves. In reality, trading a 100+ million dollar last place payroll for a 30+ million dollar (likely last place) payroll makes all the sense in the world. Why pay so much money for a team that came in last place. It isn’t the moves that were made, it is what the franchise promised to the city and the fans. That is what has been broken by the deals that were made. Fans feel betrayed, lied to and deceived. The Marlins promised an influx of talent, that they would be committed to building a winning baseball team. So far, that has not happened. The moves made in 2012 all but gone in yet another fire-sale in the franchise’s history. Strike one.
Ozzie Guillen was the man the franchise chose to lead the team into its new era. This was supposed to be a great signing. After all, the Venezuelan manager had led the Chicago White Sox to a World Series title in 2005. Nobody could imagine that his career as Marlins Manager could begin as bad as it did. In an interview with Time Magazine, Ozzie Guillen said, in no shortage of words, “I love Fidel Castro”. In a community where more than 80% of the population have in some way or another been affected by the communist Cuban dictator, this was not the way to begin your career. Strike two.
Now it seems that the franchise has found a new way to further alienate themselves from fans. Threaten to sue them. While it seems the fans want out of their contract to pay for $25,000 season tickets due to the fire-sale, they are claiming it is because their view has been obstructed by an advertisement placed there by the team. While I would side with the team here, If I ran the franchise, I would not let word of this get to the media, even if the fans are being unreasonable. Let them off the hook, and move on. Threatening to sue fans after the public relations nightmare you already have on your plate is not the way to go. Strike three.
Three strikes, you’re out. Where does the franchise go from here? How do they rebuilt the trust they have destroyed after so long? Well, it is a difficult thing to say. Winning cures all, and if the team was to be surprisingly competitive like they say it will be , maybe it would be a start in the right direction. Sign free agents when they become available. This will prove to the city and fans that you intend to win. The fans are around. Look at the attendance numbers for the second round of the World Baseball Classic held at Marlins Park. The game between the United States and the Dominican Republic was packed, and it was probably the best baseball atmosphere I’ve seen at the new ballpark. Put together a team, spend the money wisely and you should see results.