Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kudos to the Florida Marlins

I have to give credit to the Florida Marlins. I mean, considering all the negativity working against them, year after year, they remain an impressive franchise. Currently, they are 55-50, only 5 games back in their division and only 3 in the Wild Card. The Marlins, like the Pittsburgh Pirates, usually get torn apart whenever payroll is deemed to high for ownership's taste.

This is a team that everyone in their corner keeps derailing and yet, they manage to put together respectable seasons. Not to mention, two world championships. It's mind-boggling, if you think about it. Since their inception in 1993, the team has made the playoffs twice and both times won a championship. That's as many championships as the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians, all of whom were around in 1903 when World Series play began. They've done all this and no one in Florida seems to care.

Both times they've won titles, ownership has eventually dismantled the team. They won a championship in 1997, for owner Wayne Huizenga and he rewards them by trading all the star players and then selling the team. They then win a championship, for current owner, Jeffrey Loria, and he too breaks up the team. I mean, what are they suppose to do? Is there a bigger prize they're suppose to win?

The state of Florida and the city of Miami for years didn't care, either. Apparently, two world championships wasn't good enough to grant them a new stadium. After years of fighting, the team finally got an approval for a new stadium in March of this year. The stadium is scheduled to be complete by Opening Day, 2012. Finally, something positive for the Marlins, but it didn't have to take this long.

With the exception of a small loyal base, the fans in Florida aren't much to brag about either. They abandon their team, like an old pair of shoes. In June, when the Yankees went down to play an inter-league series, there were more Yankee fans than Marlin fans at the games. Derek Jeter got more cheers, than shortstop Hanley Ramirez, Florida's lone superstar. And this is the team (above) that crushed the mighty Yankees in the 2003 World Series. How quickly they forget.

In 2006, current Yankee manager, Joe Girardi, managed to have a respectable year (78-84) with a team made up of mostly prospects. The National League recognized his valiant effort and named him NL Manager of the Year. How did ownership reward him? They fired him. It's like someone said, "how dare you have a good year, Joe. Can't you see, we keep breaking this team up." Besides Girardi's decent year, the team has managed to put together 3 winning seasons (2004, 2005, 2008), since their last championship, all while management kept shipping away their good players. I have to give it to them, they just keep figuring out a way.

To managements credit, they've gotten some very good players for their superstars. Ramirez came over from the Boston Red Sox in the Josh Beckett trade and starter Ricky Nolasco came over from the Chicago Cubs in the Juan Pierre trade. They got closer Matt Lindstrom in a minor league trade with the New York Mets. Outfielder Cody Ross came over from the Cincinnati Reds for cash. And the team still has high hopes for the prospects they got in the Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis trade with the Detroit Tigers.

Hopefully with the opening of their new stadium, the Marlins will be able to sign some of their promising players to long contracts, with Ramirez being priority number one. But let's give credit where credit is due, those guys on the field and in the dugout, keep playing the hands their dealt and keep figuring out ways to look respectable doing it.

Photo courtesy of SI.com

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