The Miami Marlins must improve everywhere within the organization if the franchise is going to change its culture of losing in the National League.
It’s a sight Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter saw all too often this past season. Loss after loss. Fewer fans in the seats at Marlins Park. Patience wearing thin in a community of baseball fans who are tired of losing.
It’s a culture Jeter and the organization is looking to change. It began this season and will continue as Miami moves toward 2019 and beyond. Jeter has had to take a dose of his own medicine this season, finding it hard to deal with a losing franchise after experiencing the winning ways in the Big Apple. The transition has been hard, no doubt.
"“I’ve been preaching patience, and finding out I don’t have much of it,” Jeter said. “It’s an organization that had been broken, and we have to fix that. I’d like that to happen overnight. But we have a lot we need to improve on.”"
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Attendance is one of those issues. Continuing to build a winning culture is another. Furthering the advancement of the minor league system and helping young stars on the current MLB roster is also on the agenda. There are no days off for this baseball team and the offseason in the Majors just means more preparation as Spring Training is four months away.
It is actually right around the corner.
The Marlins were not alone in seeing a drop in home attendance, but the numbers posted this season speak to a different issue with the sport. Could it be fans are losing interest?
"“Per the Washington Times, Major League Baseball’s average attendance dropped 4 percent to 28,830, its lowest since 2003 after 14 consecutive seasons topping 30,000. Baltimore’s Camden Yards, Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field, Minnesota’s Target Field, Miami’s Marlins Park, and Pittsburgh’s PNC Park also drew their smallest attendance since opening as part of a ballpark boom. In a season of unusually cold and wet weather, 17 of the 30 teams experienced drops.”"
The Marlins are taking a step forward, as the teams recent draft picks are showing improvement in the minor league system. The young pitchers on the roster, especially Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez, Nick Neidert, and Sandy Alcantara could all be part of the rotation next Spring.
This has been as much a learning experience for Jeter as it has been for the entire organization. Will it make him a better owner and CEO? He is hoping a change is for the good is on the horizon.
"Per Fox Sports…“Jeter, who has become a hands-on owner in every aspect of the organization, wants to create a more festive environment at Marlins Park. With that goal in mind, the franchise will invite fans to bring musical instruments, bells, whistles, and flags to a designated section next season. Better food is promised as well.”"
The Marlins will make aesthetic changes inside Marlins Park to cater to the culture of the community, to bring back diehard fans and capture more energy. Losing 14 of the last 15 seasons tends to wear a fan base down. Having the poorest attendance record in the league this season is proof enough.
"“We’re trying to capture the energy, the culture, the diversity of Miami, and bring it into the park, which is not easy to do,” Jeter said. “When our fans come, we want it to look like Miami, smell like Miami, taste like Miami.”"
It first starts with winning. Winning changes everything. Losing, like a disease, must be eradicated. Find ways to win, add more weapons on offense and continue the development of young arms and change will become more apparent. And if any of the organization is listening, sign catcher J.T. Realmuto to a long-term deal.
So far, the front office has bought into the blueprint, including manager Don Mattingly. It’s a continuation of what was pitched in October when the sale of the organization was complete.
"“Our first meeting was, ‘Donnie, we’ve got a plan, and we’re going to stick to it,’” Mattingly said. “And nothing has moved away from that.”"
It’s a great plan if it works. A 63-98 record screams disaster. Jeter, Mattingly, and others see it differently. Hopefully, so will the fans. But there must be a marked improvement next year or more fans will jump ship. The city of Miami cannot have that. Neither can the Marlins organization.
Jeter knows it and hopes he never has to experience this kind of losing again.