In the interest of transparency, I should come out and admit the truth: I am a
Florida Miami Marlins fan. This has never been the easiest of burdens to carry, whether in or outside of South Florida. I have been to too many games at the Stadium That Shall Not Be Named where Yankees, Mets, Phillies or Braves fans outnumbered the Marlins faithful two to one. During my three year stint living in St. Louis, I was regularly the only hint of teal in a sea of red.
For years, I have made excuses for why our stadium always looked empty (“have you ever been outside in South Florida in July?”) or why we always got rid of our top talent instead of signing them to long term deals (“our farm system is loaded and we need to make room for the future). Whenever I meet another Fish Fanatic, the conversation always turns to how frustrating it is to have to defend our team against the slights of others with their history, pride and tradition. Somehow, the fact that the Marlins won two World Series Championships in 19 seasons gets cheapened nationally because of the notion that the Marlins have no fans and the city of Miami does not care if they succeed or fail. It’s time to end this ridiculous idea once and for all.
First: The Attendance. According to the Miami Marlins, 87,253 people registered for a chance to purchase extra 1,000 or so Opening Day tickets that were not already purchased in Season Ticket packages. I bet you’re shocked 87,000+ people have even heard of the Miami Marlins, let alone would put the effort into travel all the way to Little Havana on a Wednesday night in early April to see the baseball team no one cares about. For those of you not from Miami, it would be impossible to explain to you what a tremendous hassle it used to be to go to the Stadium That Shall Not Be Named. It’s unreachable by public transit and it’s in the middle of nowhere on the western edge of Miami Gardens (hint: Not Miami). Add in the fact that the humidity in Miami regularly approaches 100% and it rains every day during the summer at 5:05PM and you can get a pretty good idea as to why there were always so many empty orange seats. Don’t even get me started on the fact that it was actually a football stadium (Oakland fans, you know what I’m saying). The location and features of Marlins Park itself will be more than enough to drive up attendance on it’s own. However, as with any professional sports teams, people want to see a winner.
Second: The Players. If you made a team of players that were either drafted by the Marlins or once played for the Marlins, but no longer do, you would have an obnoxiously talented all-star team. We are constantly reminded of this every time we see Trevor Hoffman come out to ‘Hells Bells’ or Miguel Cabrera blast another home run or Dontrelle Willis throw another wild pitch four feet wide of the catcher (See what I did there? I used sarcasm as a defense mechanism). It was actually such a predictable routine for us, that we became numb to it. Player gets called up. Player is awesome. We collectively fall in love with Player. Player gets even more awesome. Player gets traded for unknown, unproven Minor League chips. Until Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez signed their long term deals in 2010, it was a Marlins fan’s duty to not become attached. Sure, it is better to have loved than lost. Yes, we’ve won two World Series. But, the only retired numbers we have at our stadium belong to players that never wore a Marlins uniform. So, color me excited that we have multiple starting pitchers and the entire left side of our infield under long-term contracts. Let me get a little bit giddy about how we fought and lost the war for Albert Pujols. Don’t call me a fairweather fan and don’t you dare drop the term bandwagon in my presence.
Marlins fans were never a dying breed, we were just in hibernation. The country has already seen how proud and obnoxious South Floridians can be about their sports teams. If Heat fans make your blood boil, just wait until Los Miami Marlins start ascending up the NL East Standings and Giancarlo, Hanley, Jose and Ozzie have Little Havana and the rest of the city making every night at Marlins Park the biggest fiesta in town.
For more on the Miami Marlins and my other Rants, follow me on twitter: @houredm