The Miami Marlins now have Derek Jeter sitting in the owners chair. His biggest challenge is engaging the fanbase. Here’s how he can do it.
On March 12th, 1933, while in the throes of the great depression, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt held the first of his 28 fireside chats. The informal addresses to the American public updated them on the specific measures he was taking to deliver them from despondency.
In the midst of widespread joblessness, starvation, and ultimate despair, FDR’s fireside chats brought hope to the American people through their radio sets. It gave them hope to believe things were getting better. Sometimes perception is everything.
The Miami Marlins are as bankrupt as any professional sports team. The fireside chat could help ease tensions with the fanbase while the team undergoes massive changes.
Marlins fans have been subject to several rebuilding projects throughout the franchise’s short history. They are alienated, and the incoming ownership group knows it. In his introductory press conference, Jeter stressed the importance of engaging the fanbase.
The best way to do it: let them know what is going on.
Previous sell-offs blindsided the fanbase. They had no idea they were going to happen until they’d already happened. If that happens again, Jeter will damage his relationship with the fans irreparably. Fair or not, he’s on dangerously thin ice because of his predecessors.
It’s not so much what he does this offseason, it’s how he does it. Fans might want to keep the core intact, but that isn’t reasonably within reach. Not only would keeping all of their current players cost too much money, but they’d also need to add several pieces in free agency.
The goal is to get into the playoffs and win a World Series, right? Even the most loyal Marlins fans would admit this team isn’t at that level. A rebuild is necessary evil. Players that the fans love may stick around, but not all of them.
How, and why, and when
This is where Jeter needs to keep the fans abreast. How are you going to build a winning team? Why are you trading this player for those players? And when can we expect to be competing for a playoff spot and beyond?
Nobody expects Jeter to guarantee a World Series by a certain time. But it’d be nice to know what the plan is, and when we can expect to be in a position to make a run. Winning championships is like catching lighting in a bottle. When will we have the bottle?
Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly addresses to the fanbase would do wonders. Not only would it keep the lines of communication open, but it would give the impression that the fans are part of the team. It would be the first time the fans and the organization were on the same page.
With so many different ways to communicate to the masses, a monthly fireside chat would require little effort. Pen a statement, a series of tweets, a press conference, anything. But let the fans know what is happening and why.
The decisions will still be unpopular, but at least everyone will know why they took place.