Vice City

Why the Miami Marlins are the most important team in baseball.
Share |

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Every sport’s fans and observers prioritize the best teams and players; none do so with quite the same level of commitment as those in baseball. In this statistically inclined era, players are discussed in terms of their personal style only after lengthy considerations of their productive value. It’s rarely mentioned, for instance, that most of the game’s best hitters are boring to watch.

A power hitter who also gets on base plays a largely conservative style, one based on waiting for the right pitch and taking walks if necessary. Contrary to the terminology of the sport, it’s a defensive approach, similar to that of the tennis player who cajoles the opponent into unforced errors. If this idea sounds like bullshit, ask yourself what it’s like to watch no-brainer greats like Ryan Braun, Joey Votto, and Albert Pujols. The answer will be, in so many words, that they hit home runs and draw walks—the “what” always takes precedence over the “how.” It’s not that fans and observers dislike style, but that they sometimes forget that it’s there.

This environment is partially related to the form of baseball: it takes weeks, if not longer, to assess exactly what that “how” looks like for any particular player. Only a special talent can communicate those qualities immediately, and it’s even rarer for an entire team to announce itself as worth watching when their projections indicate they’ll finish in the middle of the pack. (Prospect-laden groups like the 2011 Kansas City Royals qualify, but that’s more a matter of curiosity than anything else.)

Yet the Miami Marlins have become a must-watch team without even earning interest as a World Series dark horse. At a time when a franchise’s long-term plans increasingly depend on sound financial assessments and the power of patience, the Marlins seem to have adopted “making a splash” as an organizational ethos. What they’ve created, even if largely by accident, is a team of obvious talent, led by strong personalities, playing for an organization that has disregarded expectations of what a baseball game should look like for fans. The Marlins scream to be considered as an experience in a way that no MLB team has for a long time.

The starting point of the franchise’s new look has been the forthcoming opening of Marlins Park, a state-of-the-art retractable-roof stadium located in Little Havana on the site of the now-demolished Orange Bowl. (Please note that the Marlins have not eschewed corporate naming rights for the stadium. They’ve just had difficulty securing a sponsor, presumably because the franchise, led by inveterate scumbag owner Jeffrey Loria, is under SEC investigation for questionable activities related to the team’s stadium funding deal with Miami-Dade County.) For nearly two decades, stadium design has skewed retro, with all manner of brick facades and overdetermined quirks like “knotholes” along the outfield fence for non-paying fans that supposedly inject character. But the exterior of Marlins Park looks more like a really nice airport terminal than a baseball stadium. Inside, its quirks are legitimate, ideas so bizarre that they might not have gone through any kind of corporate decision-making process, let alone the usual assortment of focus groups. First, they have installed a real working fish tank behind home plate, complete with coral. Somehow, this addition seems normal when compared to the home run celebration contraption beyond the outfield fence, a set of moving cutouts apparently inspired by Tommy Bahama’s first acid trip. To usher in this new era, the franchise has also made more superficial changes, changing their geographic designation from too-broad “Florida” to glitzy “Miami” and opting for new world-turned-Day-Glo uniforms that incorporate socially unacceptable amounts of orange.

To avoid coming across as a baseball version of Candy Land, the Marlins set about improving their team this offseason. Except, instead of hewing to modern standards of acceptable roster management, they made moves reliant on conspicuous individuality. New manager Ozzie Guillen, procured from the Chicago White Sox for minimal compensation during the postseason, is one of the game’s best characters, a loudmouth with the world’s most entertaining Twitter account and a contradictorily conservative to lineup selection and in-game management.

Guillen’s presence was mere prelude to the hot-stove onslaught to come. Despite their uncertain financial future, the Marlins pursued virtually every impact player on the market, lobbing huge deals at top prizes Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. While they didn’t nab either player, in part because of a perceived lack of organizational gravitas, Miami brought in three All-Stars with greater reputations as showmen. Reigning batting champion, and human hamstring strain Jose Reyes joined the squad for six years at $108 million, creating a situation in which previous shortstop Hanley Ramirez had to be moved to third base, which both alienated a supposed franchise player and created the awesome person’s alternative to the Yankees’ Jeter/A-Rod combo. To shore up the rotation, they gave $58 million over four years to 32-year-old quasi-ace Mark Buehrle, a workmanlike All-Star who might read as dull if he weren’t also responsible for many of the best defensive plays ever by a pitcher. As if these contracts weren’t enough, the Marlins also obtained closer Heath Bell, who slid into the mound as he entered last summer’s All-Star Game, for three years and $27 million, defying conventional wisdom that it’s bad business to shell out big money for a relief pitcher. Last, in a move that ventured towards self-parody, they traded for Krakatoan starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano, hoping that playing for fellow Venezuelan Guillen would turn him back into one of the best power arms in the league.

Calling this offseason approach a strategy implies a level of control that might well have been absent. Yet no matter their intent or recklessness, the Marlins now have a team that will prove fascinating no matter how many games they win. There’s talent here, to be sure, with the new pickups combining with a strong core of Ramirez, young outfielder Logan Morrison, and rehabbing ace Josh Johnson. It’s entirely possible that Miami will take the league by storm and come across as a variation of Angels in the Outfield guided by the spirits of Bill Veeck and a comatose Rickey Henderson. They might also devolve into a mess, with Ramirez and Reyes both going out to play shortstop to start an inning or Zambrano exploding after a bad outing and taking a bat to the fish tank.

But even if they steer clear of clubhouse tussles and play .500 ball, the Marlins cannot help but be watched. They’re a talented team rife with possibility, an orange-festooned band of marauders with little care for decency and the unwritten rules of the sport. In a league where consistency and steadiness turn players into stars, they’re a potential playoff team that demands qualitative rather than quantitative consideration. They’ll be notable not just for how many games they win, but what those games look like.

That’s why the most telling moment of the Marlins’ offseason wasn’t when they brought in Guillen, signed Reyes, or first teased the home run celebration machine, but when star outfielder Mike Stanton told everyone he’d now like to be known as “Giancarlo,” his given name. Last year, at an age when most can’t-miss prospects haven’t figured out how to hit Double-A pitching, the now-22-year-old Stanton mashed 34 home runs and slugged .537, putting in a season that rivaled that of Arizona Diamondbacks star and MVP runner-up Justin Upton. Yet Stanton stands out for reasons other than his numbers. More than anything, he’s an abjectly terrifying presence at the plate, the sort of guy whose singles and outs are often hit as hard as the upper-deck home runs that accelerate like line drives. Unlike most other great power hitters, Stanton attacks. He’s the rare baseball player who proves his stardom in a single game regardless of his line in the box score. The worry isn’t so much that he’ll ruin a pitcher’s ERA as that he’ll end a career.

Stanton is far from a perfect player; he struck out a whopping 166 times and walked merely 70 times in 2011. Standard baseball logic advises that it would behoove him to shorten his stroke and sacrifice some of his considerable power to increase his contact percentage and draw more walks. However, Stanton’s name change suggests that he’ll progress as a player on his own terms. “Giancarlo” doesn’t honor his family heritage or parental wishes—the Stantons are not Italian, and everyone has called him “Mike” since middle school. Stanton has given notice that he’s his own man and won’t be confused with a journeyman ‘90s relief pitcher anymore. Like Vladimir Guerrero before him, Stanton can show that being one of the best hitters in baseball doesn’t have to involve a fundamental-driven approach at the plate.

It’s irresponsible to talk about Stanton strengths and weaknesses as a ballplayer without first mentioning that he’s the sort of athlete who reconfigures our conception of what people can do on the diamond. Along with the Marlins as a whole, he reminds baseball fans that style of play and personality can mean more to the game than the outcomes of the at-bats and games. Rejecting them as a sideshow, or turning their record into a referendum on their importance, would serve as a profound statement on exactly what we want baseball to be.


Share |

Comments

I feel exceptionally appreciative that I read this. It is exceptionally useful and extremely useful and I extremely took in a great deal from it. Offering

I feel exceptionally appreciative that I read this. It is exceptionally useful and extremely useful and I extremely took in a great deal from it. Offering

For true fans of this thread I will address is a free online! Brunswick Pool Tables

For many people this is important, so check out my profile: email checker

This is very appealing, however , it is very important that will mouse click on the connection: Jeremy Eveland

For a free voyance gratuite : here is the 0892 22 20 22 that you can call days and nights to talk to a french medium seer able to predict you the future. Couple, love, work, family... thanks to your voyance par telephone, you will know what will happen in the next weeks.

Awesome dispatch! I am indeed getting apt to over this info, is truly neighborly my buddy. Likewise fantastic blog here among many of the costly info you acquire. Reserve up the beneficial process you are doing here. personal alarm for elderly australia

Collection of funny short jokes. Read Full Report

In the wake of perusing your article I was stunned. I realize that you clarify it exceptionally well. What's more, I trust that different perusers will likewise encounter how I feel in the wake of perusing your article. wholesale of wireless presenter

Buy Bulk SMS Online In Nigeria @ 76kobo per SMS unit and Enjoy Immediate Delivery I Bulk SMS In Nigeria I Bulk SMS Nigeria I SMS In Nigeria Bulk SMS in Nigeria

You bear through a awesome vacancy. I sanity definitely quarry it moreover personally suggest to my buddys. I am self-possessed they determination be benefited from this scene. Freelance content writer for hire

On my website you'll see similar texts, write what you think. movies123

Two full thumbs up for this magneficent article of yours. I've truly delighted in perusing this article today and I figure this may be a standout amongst other article that I've perused yet. If you don't mind keep this work going ahead in a similar quality. The Delphian School

I exploit solely premium quality products -- you will observe these individuals on: online ukrainian dating

QQ288 – tien cuoc mien phi 100kco the lay duoc neu biet cach, vi nha cai no da an tien thuong nay ra khoi danh sach khuyen mai

New Generation Top American brands with great comfort and quality. Shapewear in London

You possess lifted an essential offspring..Blesss for using..I would want to study better latest transactions from this blog..preserve posting.. desnuda

I feel truly glad to have seen your page and anticipate such a significant number of all the more engaging circumstances perusing here. Much appreciated again for every one of the subtle elements. Passau

It is quite beneficial, although think about the facts when it reaches this target. garage door repair Brooklyn

For many people this is the best solution here see how to do it. automatic gate Los Angeles

I use only high quality materials - you can see them at: house bolting

I feel exceptionally appreciative that I read this. It is exceptionally useful and extremely useful and I extremely took in a great deal from it. bodybuilding supplements that work like steroids

Interestingly you write, I will address you'll find exciting and interesting things on similar topics. Configuration as a service

Make the most of mainly premium substances - you will find him or her for: เว็บแทงบอล

You re in purpose of actuality a without flaw website admin. The site stacking speed is astonishing. It sort of feels that you're doing any unmistakable trap. Besides, The substance are perfect work of art. you have completed a fabulous movement regarding this matter! Alton

We have the largest range of materials on the net today all made into the customers size and style requirements in our own workrooms in the heart of the clothing industry in Leeds UK.Shooting Jackets

You re in purpose of actuality a without flaw website admin. The site stacking speed is astonishing. It sort of feels that you're doing any unmistakable trap. Besides, The substance are perfect work of art. you have completed a fabulous movement regarding this matter! ingat bola88

I came onto your blog while focusing just slightly submits. Nice strategy for next, I will be bookmarking at once seize your complete rises... debt settlement in Maryland

Sempris is de webdesigner bij uitstek voor professioneel webdesign in Limburg en omstreken. Op de website vindt u alle nodige info bij de beste webdesigner van België.Webdesign

It has completely risen to crown Singapore's southern shores and without a doubt set her on the worldwide guide of private historic points. Regardless I scored the a bigger number of focuses than I ever have in a season for GS. I figure you would be unable to discover someone with a similar consistency I have had throughout the years so I am content with that. voyance-amour-eternel.com

It is ideal time to make a few arrangements for the future and the time has come to be upbeat. I've perused this post and on the off chance that I would I be able to want to recommend you few fascinating things or tips. Maybe you could compose next articles alluding to this article. I need to peruse more things about it! Roto-molding

It ought to be noticed that while requesting papers available to be purchased at paper composing administration, you can get unkind state of mind. In the event that you feel that the authority is endeavoring to cheat you, don't purchase research project from it. Villa a vendre a Benissa

The site is affectionately adjusted and spared as much as date. So it ought to be, a debt of gratitude is in order for offering this to us. ΑΠΟΦΡΑΞΕΙΣ ΖΩΓΡΑΦΟΥ ΣΥΝΕΡΓΕΙΑ

You re in purpose of actuality a without flaw website admin. The site stacking speed is astonishing. It sort of feels that you're doing any unmistakable trap. Besides, The substance are perfect work of art. you have completed a fabulous movement regarding this matter! ΑΠΟΦΡΑΞΕΙΣ ΑΠΟΧΕΤΕΥΣΕΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΟ

Extremely decent blog and articles. I am realy extremely glad to visit your blog. Presently I am discovered which I really need. I check your blog regular and attempt to take in something from your blog. Much obliged to you and sitting tight for your new post. volunteer

I personally use them exclusively high-quality elements : you will notice these folks during: vriligy 60 mg

It should be noted that whilst ordering papers for sale at paper writing service, you can get unkind attitude. In case you feel that the bureau is trying to cheat you, don't buy term paper from it. Video Production Brisbane

Extremely decent blog and articles. I am realy extremely glad to visit your blog. Presently I am discovered which I really need. I check your blog regular and attempt to take in something from your blog. Much obliged to you and sitting tight for your new post. Arisa Speed Boat

In the wake of looking at your article I was stunned. I comprehend that you clear up it phenomenally well. Likewise, I expect that differing perusers will in like way encounter how I feel in the wake of examining your article. tuition and scholarship crypto currency

Extremely decent blog and articles. I am realy extremely glad to visit your blog. Presently I am discovered which I really need. I check your blog regular and attempt to take in something from your blog. Much obliged to you and sitting tight for your new post. Global purchasing

I came onto your blog while focusing just slightly submits. Nice strategy for next, I will be bookmarking at once seize your complete rises... ganhe seguidores no instagram

Can nicely write on similar topics! Welcome to here you'll find out how it should look. Lawn Dethatcher

Simply unadulterated splendor from you here. I have never expected something not as much as this from you and you have not frustrated me by any stretch of the imagination. I assume you will keep the quality work going on. new bollywood actress

Simply unadulterated splendor from you here. I have never expected something not as much as this from you and you have not frustrated me by any stretch of the imagination. I assume you will keep the quality work going on. ICT News

It should be noted that whilst ordering papers for sale at paper writing service, you can get unkind attitude. In case you feel that the bureau is trying to cheat you, don't buy term paper from it. pranzo lavoro Modena

In the wake of looking at your article I was stunned. I comprehend that you clear up it phenomenally well. Likewise, I expect that differing perusers will in like way encounter how I feel in the wake of examining your article. Celebs Kenya

Extremely decent blog and articles. I am realy extremely glad to visit your blog. Presently I am discovered which I really need. I check your blog regular and attempt to take in something from your blog. Much obliged to you and sitting tight for your new post. dog carpal brace

Simply unadulterated splendor from you here. I have never expected something not as much as this from you and you have not frustrated me by any stretch of the imagination. I assume you will keep the quality work going on. wakeboard sale

I read this article. I think You put a lot of effort to create this article. I appreciate your work. Free checking with interest

The author is energetic about acquiring wooden furniture on the web and his investigation about best wooden furniture has realized the plan of this article. singapore wedding photographer