Saturday, June 22, 2013

Herald Makes It Official: Not Worst Team Ever

    The Marlins have won their first two over the World Champ San Francisco Giants. Logan Morrison is showing power (!). Pitching is looking decent. Stanton is healthy. Ozuna showing promise again after rookie slump. And they've won 6 of their last 10.
    The Herald's Clark Spencer, a top-notch pro, summed up the 2013 Marlins this way: "The Marlins didn’t blossom miraculously into the 1927 New York Yankees during the Heat’s title run in the NBA playoffs. Neither did they continue wilting into the 1962 New York Mets.
    "Theey are neither historically good, nor historically bad," Spencer wrote.
    "The Marlins still own the worst record in the majors. But historians can probably stop making daily comparisons to the ’62 Mets, who went 40-120. The Marlins would have to go 17-71 over their next 88 games to match the modern-day mark for futility," Spencer concluded.
    Well, I must confess that at the beginning of this season, this disgruntled fan found some kind of solace in the idea that the team wasn't just bad, but really really really bad. Why watch a miserable team when you can bask in the thought you are witnessing history? And so I (a history major in college) started comparing them to the '62 New York Mets.
    Now, now ... well, now we're just back in heartbreak city, looking for glimmers of hope, potential in the young guys, rejoining the fans of all the other lousy teams of all time, the Cubs, the Pirates, the Padres, the Washington Senators.  Once again, we're back to praying that the front office doesn't find a new way to screw things up.
    Will more fans be attracted to the super-expensive ballpark where the Marlins are desperately giving away free seats? My friend Orlando has another free Sir Pizza coupon and we still haven't take advantage of those free tickets on Thursdays for old farts.
    And maybe, just maybe, the Cuban guy who used to sell hot dogs outside the Clevelander entrance will be able to resume earning a living. Or maybe Miami fans will just gloat in the Heat victory and sit around watching LeBron inteviews.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Feeling Positive II

    So Cody Ross, pinch hitter, did in the Marlins Wednesday afternoon with a three-run homer. I've always loved Cody -- a scrappy player with limited natural skills that always seemed to do a little more than he should have to help a team win.
    I was sorry to see him go in 2010 to the San Francisco Giants, where he quickly became MVP of the National League Championship Series. But hey, we got a lot in return for him -- the draft pick that led to Jose Fernandez. Or was it Steve Cishek? Oh gosh, my memory's failing. I better look it up ...
    Yipes... the Marlins put Ross on waivers in 2010. They got nothing for him. But I'll bet you knew that already.
    On another positive note, I see Publix is still selling peanuts in a Marlins insignia bag for $1.69. I hadn't been able to find these this season, but I spotted them in an odd corner Wednesday. I like to take one of those to the ballpark, because it's a lot cheaper than the $3 or $4 bag the Marlins sell, which has a lot fewer peanuts.
    On a downer note, the Marlins have sunk so low that their Miami radio station didn't carry the Wednesday afternoon game from Arizona, preferring instead to have a couple guys blabber several hours about the Heat winning game six. I like to listen to baseball on the radio as I putter around on my errands. I tried a West Palm station that was carrying the game, but reception wasn't good. The game was on Radio Mambi, so I ended up practicing my Spanish.
    The Marlins are now 22-49. The 1962 Mets were 19-52 at this point.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Still Grumbling

      Stanton hits two homers Monday night, the Marlins win to go 6-4 in their last 10, and still, being a disgruntled Marlins fan, I want to point out that the Marlin front office paid a lot of money for Stanton's second homer last night, which came off Heath Bell.
    Last year, the Marlins paid $27 million for three years of Bell -- one of several major mistakes the front office made in the 2012 season. Fed up with his blown saves, the team traded him to Arizona in the off-season -- but only after agreeing to pay the Dbacks $8 million toward the remainder of his contract.
    Only Nolasco is costing the Marlins more -- $11.5 million, according to ESPN. The next highest paid members in Marlins uniforms are Placido Polanco and Adeiny Hechavarria, at $2.75 million each.
    The Marlins are now 22-47, a .319 win percentage, meaning they have elevated themselves (temporarily?) out of the 50 worst won-loss percentages in Major League history.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hail the Victors

    After winning two of three from the NL-best Cardinals, the Marlins are now 21-47 -- two wins ahead of the of the pace of the losing-est team ever, the 1962 New York Mets, who were 19-49 at this point.
    The Marlins are now on track for 112 losses for the year -- that would tie them with the 1952 Pirates and 1965 Mets for the sixth-most losses in a single season. (That's for the modern era. I don't count teams like the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, which lost 134 in a time that's not really comparable to today's professional baseball.)
    Hey, if the 2013 Marlins keep improving, they might do better than the team tied for 22nd most losses -- the 1998 Florida Marlins, who had 108, after the first infamous sell-off.
    Last year's poorly conceived team of Bell and Co., by the way, suffered 93 losses in what was supposed to be a breakout season -- that was three losses more than the 2011 Florida Marlins, playing their last season at the stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Feeling Positive

    Stanton is back! LoMo is back! Turner is looking like a real prospective and not the next Andrew Miller. So my buddy and Orlando headed off to the Brewers game Wednesday night feeling positive. Of course, we didn't spend real money. Orlando's grandson loves Sir Pizza and the box came with a coupon for two free tickets.
    The first bummer of the evening is that the hot dog guy has vanished. I usually get a huge $3 sausage from him at his stand across from the Clevelander entrance. He wasn't there -- a little-guy casualty of the Marlins' dismal year.
    Our tickets were for section 23, row 8 -- just a little outside the infield down the third base line. There were a lot of folks in our section -- many of them Sir Pizza customers, I guessed. The announced attendance was a pathetic 13,400 -- and I'll bet just a fraction of them (probably ignorant Brewer fans) paid full price for a ticket.
    We've now attended four games this year -- $20-something for opening night, $9 outfield tickets but we moved around to good seats, a freebie because we went opening night and now a Sir Pizza freebie. And we haven't even done the seniors-free Thursdays yet.
    Well, Slowey gave up three runs in the first and it was all downhill from there in a 10-1 massacre. In a bitter irony, the one run the Marlins scored came off Badenhop, one of the disasters the Marlins received in the Tiger trade, now serving as a third-string reliever with the Brewers.
    The good news: Orlando, who generally attends about 20 games a year (less this year) got a foul ball, his first ever. It landed in his coat in the seat in front of him and he just fished it out.
    For the year, the Marlins are now 19-46. The worst-ever 1962 Mets were 18-47 at this point.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Why Baseball's Fun

    Two extra-inning victories over the weekend involving two pathetic teams -- but hey, it made for fun baseball.
    The NY Times put it in perspective for Saturday's marathon: "Inning after inning, the Mets and Miami Marlins -- the major league's two worst clubs in batting average -- looked incapable of summoning just one more run to break a 1-1 deadlock.
    "The Marlins finally did, but only after 20 excruciating and increasingly absurd innings. Through their own ineptitude the teams produced the longest game at Citi Field."
    I was listening on an off via radio and TV. Most memorable moment came in the eighth. Marlins had two on, nobody out, with Juan Pierre at the plate. Hechavarria gets picked off second. Juan Pierre, 35, batting .206 with runners in scoring position, then hits into a double play.
    We went out to eat with friends and I followed the last several innings on my phone. My friend, Richard French, said, "The Mets have an awful bullpen. The Marlins are bound to score a run." Of course, the Marlins bullpen is no great shakes either. Man of man.
    Thanks to the hapless Mets, the 2013 Marlins are now 18-44, having won an astonishing 5 of their last 10. And the miserable Brewers, as bad as the Mets and with a drug scandal brewing, are coming to town. At this point, the worst-ever 1962 Mets were 17-45.

Friday, June 7, 2013


     North Carolina 3B Colin Moran, drafted Thursday in the first round (sixth overall) by the Marlins, joins a special team of Jeff Allison, Taylor Tankersley, Chris Volstad, Aaron Thompson, Jacob Marceaux, Ryan Tucker, Sean West, Gregg Sinkeil, Chris Coghlan, Matt Dominguez, Kyle Skipworth, Chad James, Christopher Yelich, Jose Fernandez and Andrew Heaney.
    All have been first round picks during the Loria era. Allison is considered by some to be among the top 10 busts of all time. Coghlan and Fernandez are the only ones now on the ML squad, although many have hope for Yelich (currently injured in AA). The last time the Marlins had a pick this high, they selected catcher Skipworth (6th overall in 2008), who is languishing in mediocrity at AAA as the Marlins desperately trade for catchers.
     Thanks to an off-day, the Marlins remain at 16-44, the same record as the worst-ever '62 Mets.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Drifting Along

    So there was Joe Boyd, "one of the grimly devoted followers" of the Washington Senators, sitting on his front porch on hot summer nights in 1958 listening to radio broadcasts. One night, "when the Senators failed to score in the seventh, Joe muttered, 'What's wrong with you guys anyway?' "
    Well, I've been thinking of myself as Joe Boyd. From 1955 through '59, the Senators finished seventh or eighth in the American League before going off to Minnesota. The Marlins don't have nearly as long a stretch of frustration as those Senators or the Pirates, and I guess I'm no Joe Boyd. On Wednesday, I was puttering around with this and that and completely forgot that the Marlins had an afternoon game. By the time I tuned in, it was another loss -- the typical scenario of good starting pitching, bad relief and one run from the batters.
    This morning's Herald is filled with hope. "Marlins going back to roots in approach," says the headline, meaning the team will again be counting on its skills in the draft, which many of us find kind of laughable.
    The Marlins have the sixth overall pick and are looking at third basemen. Not a word in the article about Matt Dominguez, drafted 12th overall in the 2007 draft. Marlins billed him as the super-star third baseman of the future before they dumped off to the Astros last year, another draft failure. How many third basemen and catchers have the Marlins drafted or traded for or gotten through agency? And none of them  have worked out.
    Marlins are now 16-44 -- same record the 1962 Mets had at this point. But sports writers point out that help is on the way -- LoMo and Eovaldi are close to returning. Can't wait.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Marlins attendance -- a rant against pols, fans and an owner

    Sports Illustrated is blaming the Marlins for being responsible for 44 percent of the drop in Major League ticket sales this year. The Herald's Doug Hanks, an expert numbers cruncher, says it's more like 21 percent.
    In fact, there's been a huge drop this year -- and last year's ticket sales were disappointing. Loria says the poor attendance last year was a reason that he had to dump his recently acquired stars, which has led to even worse attendance this  year.
    So blame the fans? Yes and no. Attendance last year was 2.2 million -- a huge increase for Marlins but disappointing for a brand new ballpark. Many teams sell out their first year in a new park, buoyed by a wave of excitement.
      Truth is, Florida is a tough state for sports teams. The Tampa Bay Rays draw mediocre crowds and they have smart management and a competitive team in a tough division. Miamians like to show up for superstars and winners -- the Heat playoff tickets are going for huge amounts, we're told. But during the regular season, it was easy to buy seats for the world champ Heat and the game's MVP.
    Contrary to many voters in Miami, I believe governments have a role to play in building sports arenas -- a creation of civic pride in a big-league city.
    That being said, just about everything else in the Marlins Park deal was utterly stupid -- like so many things in this city. Fumbling, compromising politicians were dealing with a carpetbagger owner who didn't understand the city or its logistics.
    Major League Baseball wanted a ballpark downtown. They had picked out a spot near Metrorail and the Government Center. Pols nixed that deal. The Marlins looked at Bicentennial Park -- walled off by fences so that the homeless (and the public) couldn't use it. A ballpark on that site let to a big uproar in the media because the green space was much needed  -- an uproar not heard later when it was decided to take away the green space for two museums.
    So the pols and Marlins compromised on the Orange Bowl site. That was a huge mistake. It wasn't near public transportation. It was an awkward drive from the Interstate. There were big parking problems. But the land was available. So it was one of those compromises -- like Metrorail, which has a route designed by pols in the 1980s to appeal to voters, not on what was best for people's commutes and transit needs.
    I hear Broward residents talk about going to the Orange Bowl site as if they were entering an Iraq war zone. Some people in Dade consider it "inner city." Well, that's a stupid impresssion, best left for another time. Let me just say that I park on the street (for free) about four, five blocks from the park and haven't had any security issues.
    Contrast Marlins Park with Target Field in Minneapolis -- put together with various government funds. With careful urban planning, it  was shoe-horned into the heart of the city. There's a very close connection to the Interstate for those who drive, and at night and on weekends, there is a large supply of nearby parking used by office buildings during weekdays. What's more, there's a light rail that goes right past the ballpark.
    And in the Upper Midwest, people love their baseball -- even a poor performing Twins. They essentially sold out the 39,000-seat park the first year and a half (I tried to get tickets on a Thursday night late in first season and couldn't.) They flood downtown restaurants and help accentuate an already vibrant downtown (something Miami still struggles with).
    Camden Yards is another great park in a great location. I went to a late Saturday afternoon game there, and afterward thousands flooded out into the shops and restaurants of the downtown harbor area.
    The Marlins location shows no coordinated urban planning, no strong will to make the city a better place -- and baseball fans (and team owners) are stuck with it for decades to come. My only hope is that over time, like Wrigleyville, the area will grow up around the ball park.
    Last year, Marlins attendance had dipped to 23,539 (in a 36,742-seat park) by the fourth game, according to And  attendance got worse as the team stumbled. Loria, who had spent a ton of money last year putting together a mediocre team, was enraged -- and sold off the stars. And attendance this year is abysmal.
    After Tuesday's losss to the Phillies, the 2013 Marlins are now 16-43. The 1962 Mets, who set the record for losses in a season, had that same record.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

If the Marlins aren't the worst ...

    OK, let's say the pundits are right and the Marlins are not going to be the worst team in baseball history. Are they still among the worst of all time?
    Here's a list of the worst five from, by William Browning:
    5-- Pittsburgh Pirates, 1952. Baseball Reference states in 1952, the Pirates finished with a 42-112 record. They finished 54 ½ games back of the Brooklyn Dodgers who won twice as many games. The Pirates once went 18 years without a winning season. Ouch.
    4 -- Detroit Tigers, 2003. In 2003, they finished the season 43-119, a full 47 games back . They had a winning record against only one team, the San Diego Padres with interleague play in which the Tigers took two out of three games. Detroit started the year 1-17 and finally won their 10th game of the year May 22, 2003.
    3 --  New York Mets, 1962. They were no better than ninth place out of 10 in the first seven years of their existence. Their inaugural season was the worst as the Mets won just 25 percent of their games. New York finished 60 ½ games back in the National League going 40-120. They never won a season series against a team, but the did split with the Chicago Cubs.
    2 -- Boston Braves, 1935. They won only 38 games in the 1935 season. Amazingly, they started out in first place in the National League when they won their season opener against the New York Giants by a scored of 4-2. The season would go downhill from there, very quickly. Their 10th win came June 2, 1935. The Braves were involved in 38 one-run games, of which they only won seven. They finished the season 38-115, 61 ½ games back of the division leaders.
    1 -- Philadelphia Athletics, 1916. They were the worst team since the World Series began to be played. They won only 36 games coupled with 117 losses. In one stretch from June 2 to August 8 , the Athletics were 4-56 including a 20-game losing streak. The A's finished 54 ½ games behind the front of the pack.
    Remember the lossing-est team in ML history was an expansion team, the 1962 Mets. In a first year, fans are always loose and hopeful, and Casey was giving his comic observations. That could be fun. No one is saying this year is fun to be a Marlins fan.
    After Monday night's loss to the Phils, the Marlins are now 16-42, the same record that the '62 Mets had at this point.

Monday, June 3, 2013


    Thanks to those woeful Mets and the upcoming hapless Phillies, things are suddenly looking up for the Marlins, and pundits are now talking about them as simply awful team and not the worst ever. Does that make you feel better?
    Marlins remain dead last in home runs and slugging, but they're now scoring three whole runs a game, on average. That's ahead of the worst-ever modern era performance -- 2.85 runs per game posted by the 1968 White Sox.   
    And after sweeping the Mets, the 2013 Marlins are now 16-41, the same record as the worst-ever 1962 Mets.
    The big-time experts at are saying that this team is likely to get better -- with Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Nathan Eovaldi, and Henderson Alvarez coming off the DL. That's LoMo (.230 in 2012), Eovaldi (4.43 ERA) and Alvarez (4.85). Anyways, Michael Jong says Fangraphs is projecting Marlins will be .406 won-loss rest of the way, meaning that they will have a mere 104 losses this season -- far behind the '62 Mets 120.
    Lucas is certainly a feel good story, struggling for a decade in the minors and now batting .625 (so why wasn't he called up earlier, ask we grumpy fans). But I think a major difference in the Marlins recent surge is Chris Coghlan. A no-power guy batting .140 in 2012 (not a typo) and .230 in 2011, this year team is so weak that he's been batting fifth. And surprise! He's started to come around. In the last 10 games, he's been batting .415 and he went 4 for 5 Sunday with two RBI.
    So is there hope? One of the commentators at prays this: "Let's just hope Loria doesn't live as long as Fidel, and that one day in the not too distant future real baseball will be played by two teams simultaneously in that nice new taxpayer funded stadium."