Saturday, February 27, 2010
On Friday, we briefly mentioned the Florida Marlins Season Preview that appeared on Deadspin, written by the famous Will Leitch. If you still haven't read it, please do so, it will only take a couple minutes.
I agree with Dave's suggestion that this probably wasn't a deliberate thrashing of the Marlins and their fan base, but rather just a lazy attempt at writing something about the team, while most likely on some sort of deadline. It is somewhat reasonable that instead of writing about a team who finished 12 games over .500 in 2009 and has realistic hopes at the postseason this year, he chose to just touch on the usual deficiencies of the team and their following, or lack thereof. His A's preview also focused more on the culture of the team than the actual team itself. That's probably what the Deadspin community wants to read and complain about anyway.
Even though we understand and forgive Will, we thought it'd be a good idea to take a further look at his piece and offer a respectful rebuttal
First up, Leitch took a shot at the lack of fans.
That is mean and unfair, you say, and you're of course correct. I would apologize to Marlins fans if I knew where they were. I mean that in every sense of the word. The A's might have lower attendance numbers, but they certainly do have fans. I've never met a Marlins fan. I've met Memphis Grizzlies fans. The passion just isn't there: The Marlins — as an on-field team, not as an organization — have done everything possible to please a fanbase over the last 13 years, and it just hasn't stuck.First of all, I'd disagree about the team doing everything possible to please a fan base. The team until recently had just about zero player-retention. Fan favorites like Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera were traded and although in hindsight some of those moves have been good (acquiring Hanley Ramirez, shedding the D-Train), they caused a significant anger/disrespect level amongst many fans.
Also, many have now made Will aware that we Marlins fans do exist. So instead of simply asserting our existence, I'll list some possible reasons why he hasn't come across any Marlins fans.
- Perhaps he has never been to South Florida, particularly in the summertime. I'd find it hard to believe he can spend more than a couple days here and not find at least one devoted fan
- The Marlins are still a very young franchise, born in 1993. There aren't a lot of people like Dave, who grew up with the team and continue to root for them after moving out of South Florida. Give it another twenty years or so and we should see at least a bit more of a national following.
- Or not. How many people move away from South Florida anyway? I'd venture a guess that amongst cities in which there is an MLB team, Miami is close to the bottom in terms of people who grow up there then leave. Florida is life's end zone, not the first quarter or some other terrible football analogy.
He then had this to say about our illustrious owner.
They're opening a new stadium in two years, surely set up for more money in Jeff Loria's pocket, who's basically an upgraded version of George Steinbrenner, Steinbrenner 2.0, except Loria doesn't actually care about winning.We also made the Loria-Steinbrenner comparison recently but we must strongly disagree with Leitch's assertion that Loria doesn't care about winning. He does. Loria has stated that this year's team should make the playoffs. He also seems to think the last few teams should have also made the playoffs, by evidence of the fact he nearly fired manager Fredi Gonzalez last year, who won 87 games with the league's smallest payroll. In fact, Fredi is responsible for franchise's two best seasons (2008 & 2009) excluding the World Series years, yet he's on one of the hottest seats in all of MLB.
In summary, regarding the fans, I'll say what I have believed all long. While the Marlins certainly don't have the largest fan base, the majority of fans certainly do have the same passion for baseball and their team that you'd find in Boston, New York, or even Leitch's beloved St. Louis. Also, as we have pointed out here, there are undoubtedly some interesting aspects of being a Marlins fan, which makes Marlins fandom unique (at least we think so). So while the whole of the baseball universe north of West Palm Beach sees an apathetic, front-running following, we here just appreciate our cozy eccentric community and a enjoy a baseball team that isn't as lame as the Pirates. Will, if you're reading this, and ever make a trip to South Florida during the baseball months, please take a visit to a game, I'll be happy to meet you there, show you around, and buy the first round of overpriced beers.
Oh, and stay tuned in the coming weeks for some team preview posts so you can learn a little about the team besides Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson.