Saturday, April 5, 2008

In Defense of the Fans

DSponge had some disparaging remarks for the fans of South Florida, prompted by the embarrassing 10,000 man sit at the game last night. There's no question that South Florida fans are notorious front-runners - especially when it comes to the Marlins - and that they've been at their worst so far this Marlins season.

My defense is not so much for last night, but as a general mea culpa for the embattled psyche:

1. No group of fans has been through the kind of roller-coaster ride Marlins fans have endured. From a booning fanbase in 1993 that was thrilled to have a team through the World Series Championship in 1997, Marlins fans showed in pretty good numbers. It was the disastrous firesale of 1998 that set the franchise back a decade in support. Even with the inspiring victory in 2003, there were still remnants of that earlier distaste. Add the recent firesales of 2006 and 2008 (2004 gets a pass because every championship team has trouble paying all their players. All were kept except Lee and Pudge), and you can see why people don't care to show up.

2. I maintain that there's still significant interest in this team. The TV numbers may be slightly down this year, but the incredible ratings in years past can be attributed to real fan interest more than any great love for Tommy Hutton. Perhaps the new stadium will bring those people back off their couches and into colored seats.

3. It's been a horrible year for sports in general down here. Every team has been a disappointment, so I think people are just disenamored in general.

My Solution: The way to bring the fans back is to sign the current youngsters to long-term contracts (Hanley, Uggla, Willingham, perhaps Olsen, Miller, Volstad as they develop). What the fans want to see is commitment from the ownership just as much as they want a new stadium. It would seem ideal for these two to go hand in hand.


JSponge said...

A little added excitement might help too, such as Maybin coming up from the minors and posting some big numbers as a rookie.

DSponge said...

What you said here is certainly true; I will not contest. But you tell me why every other franchise in the U.S. has more stadium attendance than the Marlins. That's the Royals, Rays, and many other notriously horrible teams over the last decade.
So is it the reasons you argued for the fans, or the abundance of "fairweather fans" that stop people from coming to the games?

It's a combination of the two.

Jay Warman said...

Do you guys care about FAU sports?

Jorge said...

I think this is the real question that many people are worried about. Will the new stadium really bring fans? I hope so, but I'm nervous about it.

ASponge said...

Yes, we are very interested in FAU sports, and your FAU blog looks great.

As far as Maybin bringing excitement, I respectfully disagree. Unless he's clearly ready, he needs to stay down in the minors. The excitement can/should in July at the latest.

JSponge said...

I did not mean for Maybin to come up right now. But, down the road, he could be a potential draw.

Karl said...

It's not just the Marlins though, its South Florida sports in general.

(P.S. I went to Sunday School with Chris Volstad... he lived 2 streets down from me, including after he signed with the Marlins and played in Jupiter. Love seeing him mentioned here :)