If You Build It, Will They Come?
The Marlins, even though they traded away most of the team after the disappointing 2005 team, seemed like they weren't too bad after being in the wild card chase in 2006 with all the rookies they acquired like Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla. Since they were 78-84 that year, everyone thought that they could at least be a .500 team and have a shot at a wildcard in the weak National League. They fired the Manager of the Year and got their puppet manager in there who is a "yes man" and just kisses up to management. its not like Joe Girardi is Billy Martin. Of course, in 2007, the hitting was great. Miguel Cabrera and Dan Uggla both hit over 30 HRs and Hanley Ramiez was a HR short of 30. They play in a pitchers park but that was their best year ever hitting. I think they finished 3rd in the league in runs in 2007. The only problem was the pitching because the pitchers who were great in 2006 all got injured and they had to start guys who probably would'nt make it on other major league teams. So now, we get to a point where the Marlins have a powerful lineup but sucky pitching. They're probably two good starting pitchers away from being competitive in the weak National League. They had said before they thought they'd be a competitive team in 2008. They're also trying to convince the City of Miami and/or Miami-Dade County to use public money for a new stadium for them that may cost around $400 -500 million. So what do they do? They trade the two guys who are the face of the team and the only two remaining guys from the 2003 World Series team? Now, Dontrelle Willis was a fan favorite and should have won the Cy Young Award in 2005 with his 23 wins and 2.58 ERA, but he has been disappointing the last couple of years. Trading him is a little more understandible. But how could you trade Miguel Cabrera who is one of the most feared hitters in the league and possibly a future hall of famer if he keeps this up. Yeah, he gained a lot of weight and he's around 260, but he's hitting more than 30 HR a year and consistently hits over .300, more like .330. He was also popular here because we have a lot of Venezuelans in the area and they like to root for their own. So we trade away, not only a guy who is the best player on the team, but someone who actually brought all 300 people to the stadium.
Miami baseball fans have really been screwed by major league baseball and the circumstances surrounding it. The Marlins were around the top 10 in attendance in their first two years of 1993 and 1994. Then the strike happened in the second season of the team and that made a lot of fans in Miami mad. Then, fans started coming back in 1997, the year they won the World Series, but then, of course, they traded away the team soon after and they were the worst team in baseball the next year in 1998. What normal fan is going to want to go to a game if one year the team wins the World Series but then the next year the team is traded away and its all new players like its a college team. Attendence kept declining year after year, even though they built themselves back up to being an average team in the early 2000's, then of course, they surprised everyone and won the World Series in 2003. Attendence started going up a little bit but the Miami fans still had a bad taste in their mouth after what happened with the strike and 1998. Marlins start building the team up to compete in 2005 and even get a big left handed bat in Carlos Delgado, but Lowell had his worst season ever and the manager that won the 2003 World Series was too scared to bench the $8 million Lowell in favor of Jeff Conine, "Mr. Marlin" who was actually hitting that year and who made a lot of clutch hits. After that season, all the good players except for Cabrera and Willis were traded away. That actually seemed to work in their favor because they were better than expected and the players they traded away ended up having disappointing seasons like Carlos Delgado. I always thought LoDuca was overrated as a Catcher and the only reason why he was an all star was because the Catcher position is so weak in the National League.
Despite all this, the fans are to blame some too. The Marlins had been competitive from 2003-2006, yet they're close to the bottom of the league in attendence. Cubs fans wish they had a team that would actually win a championship, or how about 2, in a 6 year timespan. Even though the Marlins have had a lot of disappointments because of being a small market team and working on a small budget, they've been able to do what a lot of teams in bigger markets with bigger payrolls haven't been able to do , and that is win the big games. Two championships in 6 years is hard to do, even though they had a lot of lows in that timespan too. There are 30 teams in the league and if all of them were to have a championship, it would take 30 years for them all to be able to win if a different team won every year. Marlins fans have been really lucky to have a team win like they have. They need to show more support so then the team wants to stay in the South Florida area and so the local gov'ts here are willing to put the money into a new stadium for the team. But if you're only getting 300 people for a day game, who wants to put hundreds of millions of dollars into a stadium that no one is going to go to? It sucks that major league baseball has disappointed us with the players strike and it sucks that the people who run the team have screwed us with trading away good players, but if we want them to keep the team in this city and to put good players on the team and keep them here, the Marlins need to average more than about 15,000 people for a game. They were able to average more than 35,000 in 1993 and 1994 before the strike, so why can't they do it again? I don't understand it. The only logical explaination I can think of is that the fans have been disappointed by major league baseball and the people running the Marlins so many times that they don't want to put their money and their emotions into a team that is going to trade away good players after they become good and a team that might not even be here 5 years from now. When I was 16 and got a car, I was considering one of those Marlins license plates. I ended up not getting it thinking, "what if the team isn't even here 5 years form now and I look ridiculous driving with a license plate of a team that's not even playing here anymore?" I got a plate instead, for the 0-12 Dolphins who are flirting with imperfection.
This trade seems to be an indication that the Marlins ownership isn't serious about keeping the team in the Miami area. If they were, they would have kept at least Miguel Cabrera so then we'd have someone who is probably a top 10 player in the league so the fans would have something to cheer about and possibly try to get 2 decent starters so the pitching doens't blow the game once the hitting gets them a lead. But if you are going to put hundreds of millions of dollars into a new stadium, you want to know that if you build it, they will come...