Thursday, September 13, 2007

Marlins Power Surge Doesn't Bring Wins or Fans

Less than 500 fans watch the Marlins beat the Nationals Wednesday afternoon

If a tree falls in the forest, does it still make a sound? Well, maybe the same could be said for a Marlin's players when they hit a home run. The Marlins have already set a team record with 190 round trippers this season. They say chicks dig the long ball. But lately there haven't been many female or male fans admiring those home runs. Three Marlin players (Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla) are on pace to surpass 30 home runs this year, while playing in a park known as being pitcher-friendly.

But despite the lofty power numbers for the Marlins this season, the team has 83 losses--most in the National League. This is just further proof pitching and defense wins ballgames. It's no coincidence the Marlins are the worst defensive team in baseball and have a crippled pitching staff led by the less than mediocre likes of Rick VandenHurk, Sergio Mitre, Scott Olsen and Dontrelle Willis.

The bottom line is the Marlins are a bad ballclub. You can hit a ton of home runs, but horrible defense and pitching will still lead you to the basement in the standings. But the Marlins long term problems go beyond the playing field. Check out the fans in the stands--or the lack of them. Yesterday's game drew the smallest crowd to perhaps ever see a major league game. The announced attendance was 10,000. But that number was just for tickets sold. The truth is less than 500 were in Dolphins Stadium to witness the Marlins victory.

Don't look now, but the Grim Reaper is tip-toeing behind the Marlins and ready to tap the franchise over the shoulder. Baseball has always been a tough sell in South Florida. There are plenty of the excuses. The weather is too hot. It rains too much. The team plays in a football stadium. But the real truth is the team is terrible and there is no interest in baseball in South Florida.

Everybody knows the Marlins need a new stadium. The City of Miami would like to tear down the Orange Bowl and build a new stadium for the Marlins at the OB site. I don't care if they put a roof on the stadium. Fans might come out for a while, just because the stadium is new. But in the long run, baseball still won't draw. Most people who go to Marlin games are from Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Nobody is going to travel all the way down to Little Havana to watch baseball everybday. Sorry, but it's not going to happen.

Time is running out. The Marlins lease with Dolphins Stadium ends in 2010. Owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson have not been able to come up with an agreement with the City of Miami, Dade County or the State of Florida on a stadium site and how to fund the stadium. Desperation is starting to set in. Just last year, Samson and Loria traveled to San Antonio, Portland and Las Vegas, pitching the idea of possiblly moving the franchise. I just don't see taxpayers agreeing to fund a baseball stadium here in South Florida.

WQAM sports talkshow host and former Miami Dolphin Jim Mandich suggested the Marlins should build a stadium near the water--simliar to San Francisco. While I think that's a great idea, unfortunately the City of Miami doesn't have such plans. That's too bad because it may be too late to save the national pastime in South Florida.

No comments: