Like all baseball writers, I have a splendid talent for being wrong. Hopelessly, fantastically wrong, over and over again. That's how you're supposed to write about baseball. You start with stupid and wrong, grab a shovel, and dig down from there. But even considering that, there's no match for this winner of a column from a year ago.
This is the new NL East. The Mets are poor. The Marlins are rich. It's a place where you put mustard in your coffee, and cream and sugar on your sandwich. But don't get used to the Mets being poor. They'll have gobs and gobs of money soon enough, regardless of who owns them. There are too many eyeballs in New York for the Mets to not make money.
Five teams. None of them in a small market. None of them cheap. Should be interesting for the next couple of decades.
The Marlins were supposed to be the new Marlins, the team lurking in the bushes outside your home, waiting to kidnap your talented players. This was supposed to go on for years and years. On June 23, the Marlins were 31-23 and tied for first place.
On July 23, the Marlins shipped Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers. It's stunning to think how quickly everything -- everything -- changed. There was a petulant temper tantrum, and all of the goodwill built up during the pre-park planning was flushed and discarded, spiraling down the drain like a 500-pound ceramic fish.
Do you want to go to Opening Day for the Marlins? How's about right behind home plate?
Still available as of Sunday night. All yours. If you're scared that you might not beat the rush for tickets, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post doesn't want you to worry.
Ayup. Looking good.
So we're 300 words into the column, and so far the thesis is "People just aren't that jazzed about the Marlins this year, folks," which isn't exactly news to you. But there's a twist, at least to me. Because as an outsider, I had this image of Jeffrey Loria as some sort of disinterested plutocrat, content to collect taxpayer money for his new park and revenue-sharing money -- not unlike the way a laundromat owner would be content to show up every week and empty the quarters out of the machines.
Except there's a problem. Owner Jeffrey Loria might actually care.
The Marlins went without a third catcher in September because Loria was fed up with Brett Hayes. One player said word came down during a game that Chris Volstad would be demoted because of Loria’s unhappiness. "He had one bad start, and Loria was like, ‘He’s gone,’" another player said.
The worst possible news. Loria wants the Marlins to win, and he thinks he has the best possible solution at any given moment. It's a rub-your-temples revelation, and it explains things like this:
Jeb Bush made a "large offer" to buy the Marlins according to the source. Another source said Bush’s group of investors included Venezuelan media owner Gustavo Cisneros.
A friend of Loria told Jackson that barring a health problem or change of heart, he does not want to sell because he loves owning a team.
Welp. It's Loria or bust, apparently. Loves owning a team, just loves it. And when they have a bad month, well, he loves it less. But he thinks the vets-for-prospects moves might actually be the best thing for a franchise (and, heck, in a baseball sense ... I dunno, maybe), and he believes that these moves don't need to be softened with a velvety public-relations glove. When the Marlins start winning, everyone will see. Everyone will see.
I wonder when the lights are out, and when it's just Loria, his stuffy, and the night light, if he wonders if there's some sort of relationship between the Blue Jays' offseason buzz, and the fact that they have piles of good ex-Marlins on their roster.
Probably not. And in the event that the fans don't come climbing over the walls when/if the Marlins start winning again, it's not like the Marlins are going to lose money. Not with revenue sharing and a shiny, paid-for ballpark. So there aren't any consequences of note for the amateur handyman poking around, seeing what's making that rattling sound. It's kind of fun, I'm sure.
So this is going to go on and on and on unless the next wave of Marlins prospects comes up and makes a little noise. Maybe they'll be supplemented by a free-agent cavalry of some note. I'm pretty sure Miami won't care. Not this time, especially if the crowds at this year's "Winter Warm-Up" are any indication. Not until there's a new owner who makes big promises and actually follows through with them, sticking with a long-term plan.
Just a year ago, everything was so damned different. It wasn't supposed to be like this, not for a decade or two. Good seats are available. If you're wondering about how your ochlophobia translates to off-season events like FanFests or Winter Warm-Ups, don't worry. There's plenty of elbow room.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. But Loria might actually care. A lot. And that's just about the worst possible news for any Marlins fans looking for a silver lining.