I admit, I didn’t watch much of anything today because I’m busy packing up and getting ready to move. Just the kitchen and bedroom to go! And the bathroom, but that consists of the medicine cabinet and some towels. No biggie there.
Now, normally that would result in a short post, but the news saved me today. Edwin Rodriguez resigned as Florida’s manager before yesterday’s game. And this seemed to be an honest resignation, rather than a “what word would you like us to use in the media?” resignation. This could be for a number of reasons, and I think it was for a number of reasons. It could be as simple as taking your ball and going home after a 1-18 June, as it looks like Billy* is doing. While I’m sure that’s a major part of it, the reasons go deeper than that, it seems. Which is also why I don’t blame Rodriguez in the least.
*I was ashamed of myself for knowing the marlin’s name without having to Google it. Furthermore, I really don’t have any idea how I knew that, as Billy isn’t quite in the same class as a Fredbird, Bernie, or even the terrifying thing at White Sox games. I don’t know its name, and frankly, I don’t think I want to.
I don’t know of anybody who thought Rodriguez would be around for more than one year, and that pretty much comes down to one of the most interesting and loathsome owners in baseball (and maybe sports as a whole), Jeff Loria. I think Loria hands out business cards that say “Delusional Crazy Man” with the way he* runs the team. It seems like Loria is under the impression he bought the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, or even Dodgers. It must be terribly confusing when his stationary comes back in teal. Because he does not seem to understand that the Marlins are not a “glamour” team.
*A lot of this could be said of previous owners, too. Really, the Marlins are just a fascinating organization on a lot of levels. Unfortunately, “on the field” is not typically one of those levels.
First and foremost, to support this charge, is the Fredi Gonzalez debacle last year. Loria was apparently so disappointed and distraught that Florida wouldn’t be making the playoffs that he fired the great Bobby Cox’s disciple. This in the face of nobody outside of the Marlins, maybe outside of Loria, believing the Marlins were ever in serious contention of making the playoffs. The fact they were even in the conversation for a Wild Card was a great credit to Gonzalez, and probably why he is now managing a very good Braves team. A Braves team that is currently tied for the Wild Card lead, it might be mentioned.
There is also the Bobby Valentine mess from last year. There was a big push to hire him as the manager last year, as he would be a big name and make a big splash. After he turned them down (for reasons I wish I could remember), he turned to Rodriguez, seemingly for the purpose of keeping the seat warm until he could find a big name to go with his new stadium. That “honor” seems to have gone to the now 80-year-old hero of the 2003 World Series, Jack McKeon.
That new stadium also brings us to another possibly delusional part of Mr. Loria. Now, do the Marlins need something. They play in the same stadium as the Dolphins (currently called Sun Life Stadium), which does not configure well for baseball. It also is far too big for their needs.
This last point, though, doesn’t explain the sea of orange seats empty for every game, which you may have also noticed in the Billy picture above. Wikipedia tells me the stadium seats 75,000. Which is pretty big, even for football stadiums. The Marlins, though, only keep 38,500 seats open for baseball. That is on the small side for baseball, but not ridiculous. For comparison, Wrigley seats about 42,000 and (New) Busch holds about 43,000. So, that’s small for baseball, but even that’s not the problem. The problem comes in when you look at the attendance numbers. It’s pretty rare for Wrigley and Busch not to sell out. The Marlins, on the other hand, averaged a shade under 19,000 last year. And that was a decent increase over the last three years.
Is the stadium part of the problem? Maybe. But I don’t think that’s the whole story. First off, you’re dealing with Miami fans, who are maybe the most fickle and front-running in the nation. Added to this, while the team (est. 1993, mind you) already has two World Series championships, they’ve typically not been that great on the field, as each title was followed by a fire sale on all the talent. It’s hard to keep up loyalty when success is met with the sort of destruction the Marlins ownership* has wrought.
*I don’t think we can blame this on Loria. I don’t think he was there in 2003 when the last one happened. Dan Uggla, for some time the best Florida had to offer, wasn’t kept under his watch, though. How heartbreaking that is, though, is, um, debatable.
The best bet, it seems, would be to move the whole operation to an area that would be more grateful for it. And maybe get a new owner who will want to make a splash, but also open his pocketbook to make it happen. I would propose moving them to Portland, especially after the AAA moved (I don’t think it was for attendance reasons). That would require a little shuffling, but I think you could move the Pirates to the East easily enough. The West would then be the six team division, but hey, somebody has to be. I don’t think many NL Central fans have really minded it.
Okay, yeah, I would really rather them move into an expanded Victory Field and push Pittsburgh to the East. I just didn’t want to be called a homer. As long as we don’t call the team the Arrows, I’m behind it.