Either The Miami Marlins Or South Florida Need To Blink

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 14: Owner Bruce Sherman of the Miami Marlins talks with Jazz Chisholm Jr. #2 against the Philadelphia Phillies during batting practice prior to the game at loanDepot park on April 14, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 14: Owner Bruce Sherman of the Miami Marlins talks with Jazz Chisholm Jr. #2 against the Philadelphia Phillies during batting practice prior to the game at loanDepot park on April 14, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

If there is ever going to be winning in baseball in Miami, something has to give between the Miami Marlins and the South Florida community.

For the Miami Marlins and South Florida, enough is enough.

Now, that’s not to say the Marlins need to relocate to Vegas or Montreal. Or even that the team needs to be bought by Jose Mas, or Elon Musk, or Flanigan’s. Certainly, it doesn’t mean that baseball can never work here, because that’s ludicrous. Almost as ludicrous as reading the above statement as the two sides, baseball team and surrounding community, seeing eye to eye on what the problem has been for decades. Because that obviously hasn’t been the case, or else that winning formula would have been cracked long ago.

No, what it means is that if there is ever going to be sustainable, winning baseball in this market, someone is going to have to blink.

Since the fall of 1997, arguably even earlier, it’s been a staring contest between Marlins ownership and the South Florida community. One side demanding the team spend enough to compete, and actually be talented enough to compete. The other demanding that fans show up and spend consistently enough at the ballpark to warrant the kind of financial commitment that makes competing more likely. Makes competing more likely, and makes long-term deals with individual players possible. Neither side has shown any sign of backing down, despite two world championships and four different owners.

Again, someone needs to blink. Who though, and what would that look like?

If it’s South Florida that blinks, it probably means average attendance being much closer to 25,000 than 20,000. Put another way, much closer to 20th in MLB attendance rather than 30th. It means that those Sandy Alcantara starts need to be borderline sell-outs. Fans need to turn out and tune in. Only then will ownership raise spending even remotely close to the kind of levels South Florida fans have come to expect from the other professional teams in the market.

If it’s ownership that blinks, it all starts with money. Marlins fans are smart enough to know Dodger level spending isn’t happening, but not having a bigger budget than a Kansas City or Arizona? That stings. Clearing $100,000,000 should nicely position the Marlins much closer to 20th than 30th in overall payroll- still well away from the $148,000,000 league average, but much more defensible. Making better decisions in the front office, and coming with ways to keep Broward county fans happy would help too.

From the perspective of the current Miami Marlins ownership, fans have never really given them the chance. With what was an almost endearing sense of naivety, this group came in thinking themselves entirely unbeholden to what took place before they took over the team. What they took over was a losing ballclub with a gutted farm system and a lot of debt. So they stripped down the MLB roster and restocked the minors, and presently sport one of more well regarded farm systems in baseball. As for the MLB level, it’s arguably become more talented every season since. They even made the playoffs that one crazy 2020 Covid season. Fans need to grow up, or grow accustomed to the status quo.

From the South Florida perspective, ummm, kick rocks?

The history is what it is, and the list of examples too long, for fans to just blindly trust things are going to be different. Even something as simple as buying a player jersey feels like it could end up being a one year investment. As for results? Only one winning season in five attempts it looks like, and a crazy Covid season doesn’t count. Money is the first complaint fans always raise, but of course winning is all that ultimately matters. That being said though, Marlins attendance finishes from 2003-2005 were 28th, 26th, and 28th respectively. Winning matters, but the perception that the team is doing everything they can to try to win matters too. Another trade deadline of selling only further deepens the average fan’s sense that that just isn’t happening with the Miami Marlins. The hometown Dolphins have been arguably been just as disappointing the past decade on the NFL side, but at least they kept dropping bags on the tables of premium free agents.

Honestly, a case can be made South Florida needs to give here. Practically, this new ownership has done a lot right. The only problem is that view is based on bringing a lot of cold business acumen to a business that profits off of a customer base that only exists because of extremely heated emotions, passions, and loyalties. A reality as true of the baseball fans in South Florida as it is of baseball fans in New York.

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So yes, a case could be made South Florida needs to blink. But it’s going to need to be the Miami Marlins.