Are the Marlins turning the page as an organization? Or are they on the same path of mediocrity that has haunted them for the past decade or more? Casual fans may think the former, but “insider” fans are embracing the winds of change and looking to a bright future.
As the last month of the MLB season comes, the Miami Marlins are on the verge of another losing season. Mainstream media outlets like to focus that on the surface it looks like business as usual for the Marlins that fans have gotten used to for the last decade. To casual fans, it appears that nothing has changed.
Tell me if you have heard this story before.
Star players have been traded away in an attempt to reduce payroll, finishing the season at the bottom of the division and bottom in Major League attendance. But if you look online at Marlins’ fan twitter accounts and fan sites there is an overwhelming optimism. Why is that? What makes this year so different?
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To make a long story short what makes this year so different is the new ownership group. We all know that an ownership group led by Bruce Sherman purchased the team from the reviled Jeffrey Loria last fall. When it was announced that MLB and Yankee legend, not to mention probable first-ballot Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter was going to run the team as CEO fans got excited. Having a proven winner at the helm of a struggling franchise was something fans could get behind.
Then the firesale happened.
How could Derek Jeter, a pinnacle of all the good in the game of baseball, facilitate another firesale? Sure some of it had to do with money, but the overall goal was and still is sustainability. This is something the previous owners never seemed to prioritize. Changes are happening in the organization.
Changes not only at the MLB level but from the ground up. Derek Jeter and his ownership group have a vision and intend to see it through.
Derek Jeter has surrounded him with people who know how to bring success to an organization.
Gary Denbo came in as the head of player development. Derek Jeter recruited him from the Yankees, where he was able to oversee one of the top farm systems in the MLB. He and Derek put on “Captain’s Camp” earlier this year. Top prospects within the organization were brought in and taught how to be leaders on the field and in the community. This sort of character building is pivotal in creating the culture of a first class club.
Video via Miami Marlins YouTube Channel Feb 16, 2018
From the lowest level up to the Big Leagues, there is an expectation that the game will be played a certain way, that players will act a certain way and respect the game, the fans, and coaches. The players are being developed not only as first-class ball players but as people and citizens within their communities. This is one major change the new ownership group has brought in. I think it is important because as a player promotes through the minors he knows what is expected of him at each level. Consistency is the key to success.
Another key executive that was brought is was Chip Bowers as the Marlins President of Business Operations. His main objective has been to re-engage the fan base in and around Miami. A new process this year has been Dímelo Miami. Dímelo in Spanish means “tell me.” This campaign has been used all season long to gain fan feedback. At the ballpark, you can record videos telling about what you like and/or don’t like about the game experience.
Jeter said he watches many of these videos. Chip and his team are using this information to enhance the ballpark experience. They listen to everything: Food, music, promotions, ticket packages, other ballpark entertainment, and the list could go on. The point is that they are listening. They want to make Marlins Park a hot spot of entertainment for 81 home games and more!
I have had first-hand experience with this process on Twitter. Last week I was able to reach out to Chip Bowers about engaging out-of-town fans, like me. He responded via Twitter and was open to hearing suggestions about how to engage the out-of-town fans that can’t make it to the ballpark but still love and support this team. I think that is very cool and shows the class that this organization is building.
Being in a Latin community, communication is also very important. There can often be a language barrier that can be prohibitive. The Marlins have instituted a policy that requires players and coaches to learn Spanish per USA TODAY.
"Derek Jeter stated: “Everybody expects the Latin players to make an effort to speak English. Well, especially here in Miami, if you don’t speak Spanish, you don’t fit in. I think it’s important.” This kind of commitment to the community shows how this new ownership actively cares about making their players and coaches better people."
There is a Bright Future on the Horizon
So as we are about to draw the curtain on another losing season, fans can take solace that change is on the horizon. Things are building from the ground up, laying a foundation for successful years to come. Great things rarely happen overnight. Derek Jeter has stated from the beginning that there is a plan in place. He will stick to that plan and develop players in a certain way. He had a successful career as a player and there is no doubt in my mind that he can translate that into his new role as CEO. #Re2pectTheProcess
As a long time fan (25 YEARS!) I am overwhelmingly excited for what is to come. I feel that the age of firesales and patchwork seasons are in the past. Marlins fans have so much to look forward to and I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.