25 Sep 2020 5:21 PM +00:00

Miami Marlins: Dark times loom for the Fish

(Photo Credit: Roberto Coquis)

You have to feel bad for baseball fans in Miami. Of the three men that owned the Marlins from their birth as an entity in 1991 until late this past summer, one used them as a stepping stone to buy the Boston Red Sox and the other two would have credible cases to be the worst owners in baseball history were it not for former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.

Marlins fans have celebrated two world championships since the team debuted in 1993, but the joy of those titles has been tempered by being forced to endure constant fire sales.

The most recent teardown began this winter, cutting short the elation fans felt after ridding themselves of former owner Jeffrey Loria, the architect of two such fire sales. The new ownership group, led by public face and team CEO Derek Jeter and main financial backer Bruce Sherman, immediately took a team that was only three games under .500 in 2017—and only a pitching upgrade away from being a legitimate NL Wild Card contender in 2018—and blew it to smithereens.

Claiming the team's debts were too great to do anything else, over the course of two months Jeter and Sherman traded Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners, then dealt their entire starting outfield, beginning with superstar Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees in a deal that was laughably one-sided in favor of Jeter's old team. A week later, Marcell Ozuna was shipped off to the St. Louis Cardinals for a pair of prospects. Christian Yelich's relationship with the front office quickly deteriorated and became so toxic that they had no choice but to grant his demand for a trade of his own, sending him to the Milwaukee Brewers for four more prospects. Yelich wasn't the only other player who wanted out, either. Catcher J. T. Realmuto also demanded a trade, as has, amazingly, second baseman Starlin Castro—who just arrived in the Stanton trade and hasn't even played a competitive game in a Marlins uniform.

The reaction amongst Marlins fans bordered on apoplexy. An ill-advised town hall meeting with fans went badly for Jeter, and ESPN radio host and south Florida native Dan Le Batard absolutely excoriated MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on his show, flat-out calling him a liar when he told him he accepted the Sherman/Jeter bid with no knowledge that their plan was to field a non-competitive team.

And non-competitive it will be. This will be a really rough season in Miami. Put a wooden spoon in between your teeth, everyone. This is going to hurt.