Last season, all four Miami-based “Big Four” franchises missed out on the postseason.
The Miami Marlins weren’t alone in missing the playoffs last season. The Dolphins, who many picked to run the table and finish 0-16, somehow squeezed five wins out of the most “talent-starved” team in the National Football League in the 2019-20 season.
The Miami Heat finished their 2018-19 National Basketball Association season at 39-43, under .500 and out of the playoffs. The Florida Panthers missed the National Hockey League postseason by 10 points, going 36-32-14. The Marlins, as we’re all well aware, posted a National League worst and Major League third-worst 57-105 record.
With less than two weeks until pitchers and catchers report, it looks as if there could be a historic swing about to happen in South Florida.
The Heat, who were just an average sort of team last season, have played to a 33-15 record with 60 percent of the NBA season in the books. They’re all but a lock to make the playoffs, with a current winning-percentage of .688 and 12.5 games ahead of the Orlando Magic in the Southeast Division lead.
The Panthers have questionable defense and goaltending, but their offense is all-world level. Their 3.66 goals scored per game lead the NHL, and at 28-17-5 still control their own destiny. Although they’re currently ensconced in ninth place in the Eastern Conference (the top eight make the playoffs), they have two games in hand on the three teams ahead of them (the Philadelphia Flyers, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Toronto Maple Leafs), and lead those same three with a better points percentage.
The Dolphins have tanked all that they’re going to, and with a few great draft picks, a few shrewd free agency signings, and a good trading strategy can make the turnaround from 5-11 to 11-5, but that’s still a long ways off.
The Marlins finished last season 40 games short of the NL East division title, and 48 games below .500. Nobody expected the team to compete, and their win-loss record surprised nobody. They were exactly as good (bad) as expected.
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Some have predicted the Marlins can improve by as many as 25 games (Harold Reynolds) to finish near .500. A host of good offseason moves (Jesus Aguilar, Jonathan Villar, Brandon Kintzler, Corey Dickerson, Francisco Cervelli, Matt Joyce, Matt Kemp, Yimi Garcia, Stephen Tarpley, others) can only point to improvement.
Add to all that, the Inter Miami CF will begin play in Major League Soccer on March 1st, and could make the South Florida market five-for-five in the fight for .500, if not the postseason.
Nobody’s really a lock at this point, save the Heat, who are solidly in the driver’s seat. Even so, all things are possible, especially at the dawn of Spring Training, and we’re allowed to dream, right? Thanks for reading.