Dave Hyde comments underscore work ahead by Jeter group


The Miami Marlins have one of the most dynamic, marketable stars in baseball behind the plate. How come nobody knows who he is?

It was another day at the ballpark for the Miami Marlins catcher JT Realmuto. Dubbed “the most athletic catcher in baseball” by broadcast team Rich Waltz and Todd Hollandsworth, they’re probably right. Behind the plate and in the batters box, there isn’t much he can’t do.

Realmuto continues to improve, leading many to wonder just how high his ceiling might be. By now, Miami Marlins fans have become accustomed to watching the Midwest City, Oklahoma high school legend make the extraordinary look routine from behind the plate.

His offensive prowess was on full display on Thursday as well, prompting some inflammatory, albeit substantive comments from Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde.

Despite only logging one hit in the game, the Marlins catcher managed to have as much an impact as anyone. On the field he showed off his versatility by playing first base. On the base paths, his dynamism was on full display, legging out an inside-the-park-home run.

In his next at bat, he’d lift a sacrifice fly to center field that would chase home Christian Yelich. It would prove to be the decisive run.

There should be a part in every Miami baseball fan that feels thrust into defensive posturing, aching to respond with seething venom. “Miami IS a baseball city! How dare you?!”

But take a moment and think about it. Miami has always been a football town. It took four years of historically significant basketball for it to become a two-sport town. JT Realmuto is a bonafide rockstar ballplayer, and he’s still the best kept secret in baseball.

Those things shouldn’t be able to coexist.

Challenge ahead for Jeter

Hyde’s comments underscore the biggest challenge that Derek Jeter is facing as the figurehead of the incoming ownership group.

Making the Marlins a “thing” is going to be a monumental undertaking. Fans are understandably alienated. Every World Championship has been accompanied by prodigious betrayal. They could have had several legacy players by now. There could have been a Miami Marlins Hall of Fame.

Firesales and deceitful ownership practices have kept an already fickle fanbase at bay.

Miami isn’t a baseball city, but it could be. All the pieces are in place to make it one. The Marlins have done practically nothing to market their team to their city; expect that to change.

Banners on the stadium, billboards, advertisements. Most importantly, a winning team with players that fans can feel comfortable getting attached to.

Next: Miami Marlins control their playoff destiny

JT Realmuto isn’t getting the attention he deserves. And while it stings to hear that one of your impressive young players would probably be more appreciated elsewhere, there isn’t much ground for an argument to the contrary.

Miami won’t become a baseball city in a year or two. It’ll take time; an extended commitment to winning and building something lasting to bring fans around. Realmuto might be setting the foundation for a franchise on the rise.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.