A New Arrival’s Thoughts on the Marlins

 

by Alex “The Dors” Dorsky

 

Right now, Major League Baseball has center stage. The NBA and NHL have recently crowned new champions and the NFL is doing its best to wipe out the upcoming 2011 season and further alienate fans. Do we really care about the particulars of how (mostly) out-of-touch billionaire owners and (mostly) me-first millionaire players split up $9 billion? No, this isn’t peace in the Middle East or a cure for cancer – c’mon guys, sit in a room until you’re so tired you make a deal because you just want to go home. But that’s fodder for a different story…

I’ve been a huge baseball fan for 30+ years and my two favorite teams are the Pirates and A’s, so that should pre-empt any arguments of my being a fair-weather fan. It also gives me a soft spot for small market teams. I’ve only lived in South Florida a little over a year, but I’ve quickly grown to like the “upstart” Marlins.

This is the problem, South Florida shouldn’t really be considered a small market for baseball, but as anyone who has attended a non-Mets or Phillies game knows, the stands are EMPTY. As of mid-June, the Marlins rank last in 2011 home attendance, at 16,891 – no other team is below 18,000. And that’s just listed attendance, the actual number of fans per game is probably barely 5,000.

To be fair, Barenaked Ladies were playing nextdoor at Calder Race Track

Sure, there’s something to be said for smaller crowds. You can drive right up to the stadium, buy your ticket at the window, and settle into almost any seat in the house. Sitting close to the field enables one of my favorite pastimes: enjoying some adult beverages and letting the near-by visiting players know what’s on my mind. They hear every single word I say!

But convenience only goes so far. The atmosphere of a packed (or at least crowded) ball park can be electric, making the overpriced ticket actually worth the cost.

Why are the stands at Sun Life Stadium so empty? The Marlins won two World Series titles despite only 18 full seasons. The Red Sox have 2 in the last 92 years and the Cubs have been waiting since 1908, but Fenway and Wrigley are packed night after night. Some blame it on the weather or the Fish being 3rd fiddle in South Florida to the Dolphins and the Heat, but this newcomer’s take is that the blame falls squarely on ownership.

Most Miamians only know phenom Mike Stanton as the guy who blocks the Jiffy Lube Ad that used to be right field.

Jeffrey Loria might be a keen businessman, but like co-NYC native rich guy Donald Trump, his people skills are clearly lacking. Players should be willing to play for a discount (considering a Marlins jersey means no state income tax and unbeatable weather/potential for a player’s downtime) but how often do you hear anyone say they’re looking forward to being a Marlin for life?

Still waiting…

With the help of Bud Selig, Loria basically traded the Expos (leaving behind a trail of questionable financial maneuvers) for the Marlins in 2002. Even though he won a World Series title the following year with the Fish, he’s overseen a skid into mediocrity ever since.

I doubt he cares, though, the $12 million he initially invested in the Expos back in 1983 is now estimated to be worth about $360 million, so Loria has essentially earned 100% on his investment every year for the past 28 years.

Despite a near top-notch starting rotation and young talent including Mike Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, and Logan Morrison, the Fish have free-fallen into last place in the NL east.

As if the recent firing of popular hitting coach Alan Cockrell wasn’t enough, manager Edwin Rodriguez’s resignation on June 19th was downright embarrassing. Your first managing job in the big leagues (and you’re the first Puerto Rican-born MLB manager EVER) and you quit? My guess is you’ve really got to dislike your boss. And with 4 managers over 6 years, I can’t imagine any of them are Loria fans.

"I already fired a coach today. Hmm. What to do...What to do?"

And don’t forget Loria lied about the team’s finances to get a loan for the new stadium set to open in 2012, claiming the Marlins were bleeding money. However, according to documents on Deadspin.com, the Marlins made around $49 million in profit in 2007-2008 alone. Yet the team’s payroll remains low and somehow the team’s owner makes money while the taxpayers are stuck with a loan that will end up costing an estimated total of $2.4 billion. Smells fishy…

As a South Florida resident, I choose to root for the team in spite of the owner. Call me selfish, but I want to go to games and see the Marlins win. At least we don’t have to suffer through the McCourt McNightmare of Los Dodgers. That once proud franchise is going on 23 years without a title and has basically become tabloid material.

Fortunately, as I previously stated, Miami fans don’t thirst for baseball, so the media isn’t tabloid hungry like it is in NY or LA. Which means next year I just get to sit in my blue plastic chair, in a brand new retractable-roof stadium with barely 4,000 other friends and enjoy screaming at the team that will be broken up if they start playing well anyway.

Go Fish!!

 

Billy demonstrates just how pretty the stands look with only 3 people in attendance

4 Comments

  1. Come on Dors, everybody knows that the Marlins will sellout those 30,000-plus seats in the new stadium.

    Or will they???

  2. Sure. By the end of the first homestand…

  3. Interesting insights regarding the Marlins. They beat the crap out of us here in SF…and am surprised they’ve fallen into last place. Would you trade a full house, SF fog and overpriced tickets for an empty stadium, sun, and more sun? I like the electricity of a packed stadium and you can usually find tickets for cheap. That sun though is enticing.

  4. I love the south florida sun, but for purely baseeball purposes I’ll take the full house regardless of the weather