Never before has a major league baseball franchise transformed itself so dramatically and so quickly. Despite twice winning World Championships (1997 and 2003) as wild card entries in the only two times they have made it to the post-season, their band-wagoning fans have simply NOT supported them over 19 years of existence. Unloading key players after each title season and playing in a football-oriented, open-air stadium has not helped turnstile counts. Following a dismal 2011, finishing last in the NL Eastern Division at 72-90, the Marlins are overhauling EVERYTHING!
First, they rightfully changed their name from Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins. The team never was embraced by the entire state, plus there’s another Florida-based MLB team in St. Pete getting a lot of press these days. Next, with the new team name, a new logo and uniforms were also unveiled.
A new $515M retractable-dome stadium has been built and is now ready to open its gates right in the footprint of the old Orange Bowl, as the centerpiece of Miami’s dumpy, crime-riddled “Little Havana” neighborhood. This was quickly followed by the hiring of a new manager and several new high-profile players. Does owner Jeffrey Loria think he’s the reincarnation of George Steinbrenner or what? If the Marlins don’t draw a solid fan base now he will rattle south Florida like Hurricane Andrew did twenty years ago! Remember, Loria fired current Yankee field boss Joe Girardi just after he was voted NL Manager of the Year guiding the Marlins in 2006. To say he’ll be anxious this season is like saying Kim Kardashian might do something for media attention!
After seven seasons (and one World Series championship in 2005 as skipper of the White Sox), the fiery Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen will bring his non-stop sound bites to a place where everyone will finally understand them. He’s definitely a manager who never shies away from a microphone, even if it’s to contradict his bosses. He was also the Marlins 3rd base coach back in 2002 and 2003. Flashy Met shortstop Jose Reyes was signed to a 6-year, $106M contract…….and, will be forcing superstar malcontent Hanley Ramirez over to third. This should go over about as well as Castro buying season tickets. Volatile right-handed pitcher Carlos Zambrano was picked up in a trade discharging under-achieving pitcher Chris Volstad to the Cubs. If Zambrano can lose about 25lbs. and doesn’t strangle one of his teammates after a bad play, this acquisition should work out OK. Southpaw starter and 12-year veteran free agent Mark Buehrle was acquired from Ozzie’s former team, bringing some stability and 161 career wins. The colorful 260lb. closer from the San Diego Padres, Heath Bell, rounds out the new “star” player acquisitions to the Marlins roster up to now. It should be hilarious to watch Guillen hand-signal Big Heath in from the bullpen. And as if all this was still not enough off-season wheeling and dealing, 26-year old star outfielder of the Cuban WBC team, Yoenis Cespedes, is also being courted by the Marlins.
Should be an absolute circus (under the Big Top) in south Florida this summer…….sort of like a giant pot of Spanish paella all coming together on a baseball field, with Ozzie as ringmaster and head chef. Either this will become the best story in baseball, or just too much to digest.
- Chemistry experiment: Reinvented Marlins could cruise or combust (aol.sportingnews.com)
Filed under: Pro Baseball
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