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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Derek Jeter Was Once the Captain. But Now He’s the Apprentice. - The New York Times

The Marlins aren’t trying to shed salary. Stanton was traded because he didn’t want to stick around. At least that’s the company line Michael Hill was peddling on MLB Network yesterday.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 14, 2017 at 07:01 AM | 107 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: derek jeter, marlins

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 10:43 AM (#5592405)
The Marlins aren’t trying to shed salary. Stanton was traded because he didn’t want to stick around. At least that’s the company line Michael Hill was peddling on MLB Network yesterday.

The Marlins are an embarrassment.
   2. -- Posted: December 14, 2017 at 10:46 AM (#5592409)
The market the Marlins operate in can't support major league baseball.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 10:53 AM (#5592421)
The market the Marlins operate in can't support major league baseball.

BS. The Miami metro area is 8th by population, 11th by GDP, and 16th by TV market. It is a solid mid-market.

The reason the market won't support the Marlins is that ownership has treated the fans like crap for over two decades.
   4. Blastin Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:01 AM (#5592434)
And the Marlins players have ignored this and managed to win two rings. I can't imagine playing for that team.

Jeter is in over his head, though I think it's all the other people who are strip-mining the team. Did Jeets really need to be an owner THAT badly THAT soon?
   5. PreservedFish Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:04 AM (#5592442)
Wouldn't be surprised if Hill were just serving up the slops that Jeter poured into his trough.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:08 AM (#5592446)
Wouldn't be surprised if Hill were just serving up the slops that Jeter poured into his trough.

There's not much Hill can do if his orders are to dump payroll at any cost, and the rest of the league knows that.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:10 AM (#5592450)
BS. The Miami metro area is 8th by population, 11th by GDP, and 16th by TV market. It is a solid mid-market.


I hate hate hate this style of argument. By that logic NYU should have the best college football team in America. Number of people is part of the equation but so is enthusiasm for the product. Some areas are dedicated baseball towns or football towns or hockey towns or whatever. Miami SHOULD have a pretty good base for baseball fandom (the University of Miami does well) but they have no embedded fan base and really haven't existed for that long. It is just now that we are starting to get adults who grew up as Marlin fans. Those are the people who create your diehard fan base.

With that said, the Marlins have crushed any chance of that working by treating their fans like dirt. The ongoing strip mining of the organization and the fan base means that they probably have the smallest diehard fan base in baseball. Someone has to be last I guess but it's hard to see how they climb out of this cycle.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:16 AM (#5592465)
I hate hate hate this style of argument. By that logic NYU should have the best college football team in America. Number of people is part of the equation but so is enthusiasm for the product. Some areas are dedicated baseball towns or football towns or hockey towns or whatever. Miami SHOULD have a pretty good base for baseball fandom (the University of Miami does well) but they have no embedded fan base and really haven't existed for that long. It is just now that we are starting to get adults who grew up as Marlin fans. Those are the people who create your diehard fan base.

How else are you going to evaluate an expansion market? Of course they had no pre-existing fan base. The raw material was there for a successful market.

They've existed for 25 years. The kids who were 5-15 when they won there first title have their own kids now.

With that said, the Marlins have crushed any chance of that working by treating their fans like dirt. The ongoing strip mining of the organization and the fan base means that they probably have the smallest diehard fan base in baseball. Someone has to be last I guess but it's hard to see how they climb out of this cycle.

Yes. They couldn't have done worse if they tried. 25 years of consistent losing, with earnest but incompetent effort, would have been better than the win, tear-down cycle they've followed.
   9. Rally Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:17 AM (#5592467)
They've got Marlins man, but unfortunately for them he buys high priced seats directly behind home plate everywhere else.
   10. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:24 AM (#5592479)
There are a lot of problems with the Miami market that have been rehearsed by locals (and others) ad nauseam on this site. There was no margin for error down here, and each successive ownership has blundered badly, sometimes even with the best of intentions. I can't help but find snapper's optimism misplaced.

Unlike as was the case with the Expos, now MLB have no good options for moving the Marlins.

It does bear out the likelihood that George Steinbrenner's apparent belief that ALL the 1990s expansions were a mistake, that it would have been better to move teams, was essentially correct.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:30 AM (#5592488)
There are a lot of problems with the Miami market that have been rehearsed by locals (and others) ad nauseam on this site. There was no margin for error down here, and each successive ownership has blundered badly, sometimes even with the best of intentions. I can't help but find snapper's optimism misplaced.

It may not be as good as its size indicates, but its a hell of a lot better than Cleveland, or Milwaukee, or Pittsburgh, or Detroit.

It's a large growing market, that includes a huge Cuban community that loves baseball. A well run tell would have a dedicaed fanbase by now, espcecially if they had signed some of the Cuban FAs who came over, and be solidly middle market.

The fact that they draw even 1.5 million fans given their systematic abuse of the city shows there is baseball interest there.
   12. Blastin Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:52 AM (#5592521)
I was amused by how honest Stanton was during his press conference.
   13. BrianBrianson Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:58 AM (#5592527)
Some areas are dedicated baseball towns or football towns or hockey towns or whatever.


This is true to some extent (especially for Hockey), but Miami is not a non-baseball market. It's entirely ####### by the ownership. Baseball is popular in the south, it's popular in the Caribbean.
   14. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 12:08 PM (#5592545)
It may not be as good as its size indicates, but its a hell of a lot better than Cleveland, or Milwaukee, or Pittsburgh, or Detroit.

As far as Cleveland and Detroit go, as comparisons, I've got to disagree sharply. The Indians are a massive television draw in their own market, even though people don't go to the games. It's not just that nobody goes to the games in Miami, but nobody even watches them on the television.

Detroit has suffered generations of underachieving teams, the horrors of the 1990s and yet people still come out to the ballpark in droves when the team is going even moderately well. If you offered me the Miami or Detroit markets for baseball, I'd take the Detroit market without pausing to think about it.

It's a large growing market, that includes a huge Cuban community that loves baseball.

I mean, it's back to ad nauseam here. Your mind is made up.
   15. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 14, 2017 at 12:22 PM (#5592566)
I hate hate hate this style of argument. By that logic NYU should have the best college football team in America. Number of people is part of the equation but so is enthusiasm for the product. Some areas are dedicated baseball towns or football towns or hockey towns or whatever. Miami SHOULD have a pretty good base for baseball fandom (the University of Miami does well) but they have no embedded fan base and really haven't existed for that long. It is just now that we are starting to get adults who grew up as Marlin fans. Those are the people who create your diehard fan base.

Of the existing baseball fanbase in Miami, how many of them are transplants?

When you've got half the Major League teams playing in Florida for a full month prior to opening day, isn't it kind of easy for fans to get used to Spring training ticket prices?
   16. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: December 14, 2017 at 12:23 PM (#5592569)
A well run tell would have a dedicaed fanbase by now, espcecially if they had signed some of the Cuban FAs who came over,


Somewhere, Orestes Destrade weeps.
   17. craigamazing Posted: December 14, 2017 at 12:29 PM (#5592575)
The Marlins aren’t trying to shed salary. Stanton was traded because he didn’t want to stick around. At least that’s the company line Michael Hill was peddling on MLB Network yesterday.


Fine, then make an honest effort to trade him for something more than a used Dodge Caravan and a pile of dog poo.
   18. Nero Wolfe, Indeed Posted: December 14, 2017 at 01:08 PM (#5592636)
If you slipped a well-run organization into Miami, the people would show up.

If some magical event occured and the entire Cardinal organization woke up as the Miami Cardinals tomorrow, they'd be drawing 3 million a year by 2020.
   19. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 02:34 PM (#5592723)
If you slipped a well-run organization into Miami, the people would show up.

If some magical event occured and the entire Cardinal organization woke up as the Miami Cardinals tomorrow, they'd be drawing 3 million a year by 2020.

The Red Sox don't even draw that many (I mean it's a relatively small stadium, but still). Only 7 teams drew that many this year. Playoff teams (technically) in Arizona, Minnesota, and Cleveland, ranked 20-22, respectively, in total attendance.

Attendance seems to be a tricky beast, outside of the best markets and St. Louis.

Houston is the 5th largest MSA, has been good for a couple years, was good enough to win the World Series this year, and was 15th in attendance. That looks like a good comparison to me, though in a much larger area, as a team that was craptastic for a number of years before getting good.

EDIT: Houston isn't that much larger than Miami, on further inspection. So maybe a reasonable market/team comparison, in this imaginary world where the Marlins are all of a sudden well run.
   20. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: December 14, 2017 at 02:49 PM (#5592741)
If you slipped a well-run organization into Miami, the people would show up.
This is the thing teams aren't getting. The Marlins have never — never — had ownership that was willing to commit to being there for a decade of good baseball. When the Beckett/Willis/Cabrera Marlins put up a WS and three winning seasons, attendance doubled between 2002 and 2004. You can't have just one good year, or a few good names, then every couple of seasons have another fire sale to get rid of all the players fans have built attachments to. Building an organization fans will attach themselves to means building solid teams year after year, treating fans well year after year, building your brand year after year after year.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 02:51 PM (#5592745)
This is the thing teams aren't getting. The Marlins have never — never — had ownership that was willing to commit to being there for a decade of good baseball. When the Beckett/Willis/Cabrera Marlins put up a WS and three winning seasons, attendance doubled between 2002 and 2004. You can't have just one good year, or a few good names, then every couple of seasons have another fire sale. Building an organization fans will attach themselves to means building solid teams year after year, treating fans well year after year, building your brand year after year after year.

Exactly. If the Yankees had been run like the Marlins the last 25 years, they would be last in attendance too.
   22. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 02:58 PM (#5592753)
When the Beckett/Willis/Cabrera Marlins put up a WS and three winning seasons, attendance doubled between 2002 and 2004.

True, but mostly because the floor was so low. They went from 29th to 26th in the league. They drew almost as many in 2017 as they did in 2004.
   23. BDC Posted: December 14, 2017 at 03:05 PM (#5592767)
Houston is the 5th largest MSA, has been good for a couple years, was good enough to win the World Series this year, and was 15th in attendance

Of course they lost three home dates to Harvey (the 13K for three games in St. Petersburg is included in their total, but is about 60K or more short of what they'd have normally drawn against the Rangers in Houston midweek). They had some weaker turnout before and after Harvey as well. Without the storm they might have been as high as 11th or 12th, not that that changes your point much.
   24. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: December 14, 2017 at 03:09 PM (#5592774)
True, but mostly because the floor was so low. They went from 29th to 26th in the league. They drew almost as many in 2017 as they did in 2004.
But that's how you build a fanbase! You play well, create the emotional attachments to the community, then go from there.
   25. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 03:28 PM (#5592789)
There's just no supporting evidence for the 'well-run team in Miami would draw 3 million'. (For practical purposes, the ballpark is kind of small to manage that -- 81 x 37,000 = 2.997 million)

But the record shows that Miami baseball fans ditched the team in 1999 and no effort to draw them back has been successful. They have twice been presented with an exciting team of young up-and-comers, with the Henry-Dombrowski team that Loria took to the World Series in 2003, and Loria's own handiwork that went awry in 2016 thanks to Jose Fernandez need for speed.

In terms of building a winning team, the Marlins made steady progress from 1999 through 2005, minus a blip in 2001. The highest attendance between 1999 and 2017, excluding the first season of Marlins Park, was in 2005, when they topped 1.8 million. In 2005 a losing Tigers' team, whose fans had endured ELEVEN CONSECUTIVE LOSING SEASONS including the execrable replacement-level team of 2003, topped 2 million, and even after that historic-worst ever season they drew 1.9 million in 2004. (The Tigers also do pretty well on the television, and I see no reason to think that what we know about television viewership in 2017 markets isn't broadly true about the early 2000s.)

Meanwhile, in the midst of building that young, exciting Marlins World Champion, only four years after a WORLD SERIES, only 800k fans turned up to see them in 2002.

There is plenty of hard evidence that Miami is a poor baseball market, and only 'what oughta be' reasons why it isn't.
   26. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 03:35 PM (#5592794)
But that's how you build a fanbase! You play well, create the emotional attachments to the community, then go from there.

Oh yeah there is certainly no argument that ownership hasn't tried very hard. I'm just starting to think fra paolo might be making a strong case, when you skim through the year by year numbers.
   27. BrianBrianson Posted: December 14, 2017 at 03:45 PM (#5592800)
I'm just starting to think fra paolo might be making a strong case, when you skim through the year by year numbers.


Naw, go and look at the numbers - Fra Paolo's just assuming that because the Marlins' haven't drawn well, it was impossible. They drew 3 million in their first season, dropped to ~1.7 for a few years while they were lousy, 2.3 in the first WS, fire-saled and sucked which really shrunk their fan based (800K in the year before the 2nd WS) - after the 2nd WS, attendance rose for the next two years as the team, but started shrinking afterwards.

Why haven't subsequent attempts to draw back fans worked? Because they're been pathetic. " an exciting team of young up-and-comers" is jargon for trading away anyone who makes money, and playing kids for cheap. It's not a draw unless they're good
   28. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 03:52 PM (#5592808)
Pittsburgh! Pittsburgh is even well-known to be a football town. In 2012 Pirates' fans had suffered through NINETEEN CONSECUTIVE LOSING SEASONS. During their TWENTIETH CONSECUTIVE LOSING SEASON with a couple of young up-and-comers in the lineup and a rotation that featured AJ Burnett and a bunch of never wases they drew TWO MILLION FANS.

If any fanbase during the miserable years of the Marlins' existence has been treated like s--t, it's Pittsburgh's fans.

And they still did better than Miami's.
   29. ptodd Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:02 PM (#5592813)
My feeling is Marlins with MLB support are burning bridges and the plan is to move. Where they move I have no idea. They knew going in Miami was a revenue loser. The only reason to spend 1.2 billion Is if they were promised a new market. Granted franchise valuations have been inflating rapidly so you can still make money in the end like Loria did, but you dont burn goodwill in year 1 like they are doing if you plan on staying 15 years. Move to a new and better market and they double their money overnight
   30. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:04 PM (#5592814)
n exciting team of young up-and-comers" is jargon for trading away anyone who makes money, and playing kids for cheap. It's not a draw unless they're good

Certainly the much-maligned Mr Loria managed the strongest three-year attendance run since 1996-98 with an exciting team of young up-and-comers during 2014-16.

And Marlins Park is a pleasant enough place to see a game.

But he couldn't top 2 million, which Pittsburgh managed despite all those losing seasons.

Also, it's worth bearing in mind that the 2006 team, which had shed Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Delgado and Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett (trades) and AJ Burnett (free agency), still featured Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera, and won 80 games (not a 100-win post fire-sale pack of losers, but a young, reloading team), and could only draw 1.1 million fans, down from 1.8 million the season before.

I mean, that's what the Sabermetric Strategy Manual would suggest -- trade away the Lo Ducas, the Delgados and the Lowells for the Mike Jacobses, the Hanley Ramirezes and the Anibal Sanchezes.
   31. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:07 PM (#5592818)
Naw, go and look at the numbers - Fra Paolo's just assuming that because the Marlins' haven't drawn well, it was impossible. They drew 3 million in their first season, dropped to ~1.7 for a few years while they were lousy, 2.3 in the first WS, fire-saled and sucked which really shrunk their fan based (800K in the year before the 2nd WS) - after the 2nd WS, attendance rose for the next two years as the team, but started shrinking afterwards.

Oh I looked. In 2004 they were coming off a World Series win, still had a pretty good team, as far as I can tell (toggling between the two rosters) kept the key players from the 03 team, and they drew 1.7 million, good for 26th in the league.
   32. Walt Davis Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:21 PM (#5592825)
Sure, Miami's not a great baseball town. But given its size, it doesn't need to be a great baseball town to be a baseball mid-market. There's no reason market-based reason they can't draw like the White Sox.

It is likely important that, despite two WS titles, the Marlins have never been an actual good team. In those two years, they won 91 and 92 games and needed the WC to make the playoffs. They have only one other season over 85 wins. To their credit, they have only two seasons over 100 losses -- alas one of those immediately followed the 92-win WS team. The 2003 team stayed solid for the next two years (83 wins) and saw attendance increase by a further 500,000.

#28 ... in the 1997 title season, the Marlins hit 2.3 million; in 2012 when their new stadium opened, they drew 2.2. The only time they had a reason to show up but didn't was 2003 when they did increase attendance by 500,000 followed by another 500,000 over the next two seasons. Their history is they show up in reasonable numbers when there's a reason to. And as you point out in #25, they have a small stadium so their raw attendance can only get so high anyway. (To comp to other markets, we'd prefer total ticket revenue rather than number of tickets but we work with what b-r gives us.)

But sure, some smaller cities turn out in big numbers when their teams win -- Pitt, Cle, Milw, KC -- which is a big part of the equation. Another part is TV ratings and more importantly the dollars in the TV deal. I have no idea how the markets rank there, how ratings may vary with quality, who signed their TV deal when.
   33. BrianBrianson Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:23 PM (#5592826)
That 1.7 million was 400k over the year before, and double what it had been two years previous. Went up the next year too. They had a good team, and attendance rocketed up.
   34. Rally Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:25 PM (#5592829)
Move to a new and better market and they double their money overnight


Is this even possible? I would think the Marlins would have had to sign a contract to stay for some specified amount of time (like the Rays did) in order to get public funding for 80% of stadium costs.
   35. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:28 PM (#5592831)
Fie, that should be '100-loss pack of post fire-sale losers'. Too late to edit.

Curiously the 91-loss 2007 team had largely the same personnel, but suffered from a broad-based pitching meltdown. Nonetheless attendance rose to 1.3 million compared with 2006's 1.1 million, suggesting an endorsement of roster stability.

However, Willis and Cabrera were dealt in the 2007-8 offseason, for more prospects. And, surprisingly, attendance held steady at 1.3 million while the club went 84-77.
   36. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:32 PM (#5592834)
That 1.7 million was 400k over the year before, and double what it had been two years previous. Went up the next year too. They had a good team, and attendance rocketed up.

Yep, to 1.85 million, good for 27th in the league. So 26th in the league the year following the WS win, then 27th the following year. All of this pre-firesale.
   37. BrianBrianson Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:49 PM (#5592846)
Uhm, pre-2nd firesale. The Marlins have bought themselves a lot of bad will. But when the team gave a crap about trying, attendance started going up. You can't pretend the Marlins were somehow willed into existence in 2005 with pre-bought good will from the fanbase at Cardinals' level. When the Marlins have done well, people have started turning up. When the franchise has shat on the fanbase, they've stopped turning up. Neither happens completely and instantaneously.
   38. Hank Gillette Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:58 PM (#5592855)
When you've got half the Major League teams playing in Florida for a full month prior to opening day, isn't it kind of easy for fans to get used to Spring training ticket prices?


You think the rubes down there are so dumb that they don’t recognize the difference between spring training games, where the starters play half the game, if that much, and regular season baseball?
   39. Hank Gillette Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:59 PM (#5592858)
I mean, it's back to ad nauseam here. Your mind is made up.

And yours isn’t?
   40. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:01 PM (#5592859)
Yeah but that was a different ownership group, right? You'd think the new owners would have some semblance of goodwill at that point, building a championship team, holding them together for two years after the fact, and they were still bottom 5.

EDIT: Response to #37.
   41. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:01 PM (#5592861)
If the Yankees had been run like the Marlins the last 25 years, they would be last in attendance too.

Well, let's see. The Yankees were run "like the Marlins" for roughly two periods in their history, 1903-14 (pre-Ruppert) and 1955-72 (CBS). Here are their attendance rankings for those years:

1903-14 (out of 8 teams): 7th, 4th, 5th, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 6th, 4th. After Ruppert and Huston bought the team, by 1918 their attendance had climbed to 2nd, and two years later it led the league.

1965-72: 2nd of 10, 5th of 10, 5th of 10, 3rd of 10, 4th of 12, 4th of 12, 4th of 12, 4th of 12. After falling to 5th in Steinbrenner's first year, they climbed to 2nd for the next two years and led the league for the next six years after that.

But from 1989 through 1996, when the Boss's Manager of the Month Club was in operation, their attendance among 14 teams was 8th, 9th, 11th, 11th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 7th. But from 2001 on they've never been lower than 2nd.

So yeah, ownership definitely matters, and not just in Miami.
   42. BDC Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:03 PM (#5592866)
So basically we have a market that isn't gigantic to start with, and is hemmed in against the sea with another ML market less than 300 miles northwest of it. And they are terribly run and have ####ed on their fans after every success they've had, a tradition still in progress. I think this kind of failure is called "overdetermined" :)
   43. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:03 PM (#5592868)
When you've got half the Major League teams playing in Florida for a full month prior to opening day, isn't it kind of easy for fans to get used to Spring training ticket prices?

You think the rubes down there are so dumb that they don’t recognize the difference between spring training games, where the starters play half the game, if that much, and regular season baseball?


I'd say it's a distinct possibility. It's also possible that those fans who help fill the stadiums in March are back home up North from April through September.
   44. Hank Gillette Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:04 PM (#5592870)
There's just no supporting evidence for the 'well-run team in Miami would draw 3 million'. (For practical purposes, the ballpark is kind of small to manage that -- 81 x 37,000 = 2.997 million)


No, because they have never had a well-run team. All we know for sure is that a poorly-run team will not draw fans. Nor should it.

2.997 million is 3 million for all practical purposes, and if they were in a hot pennant race, they could sell SRO tickets and have more fans than the official seating capacity.
   45. Hank Gillette Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:08 PM (#5592873)
If any fanbase during the miserable years of the Marlins' existence has been treated like s--t, it's Pittsburgh's fans.

And they still did better than Miami's.


The Pirates have been in Pittsburgh for well over a century. Current fans could have heard stories about the Pirates from their grandfathers, who could have heard stories about the Pirates from their grandfathers. That makes a difference.
   46. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:14 PM (#5592880)
and if they were in a hot pennant race, they could sell SRO tickets and have more fans than the official seating capacity.

I'm not as certain as fra paolo is, but proponents of this argument have some explaining to do about 2002-2005, when they went 29-28-26-27 in attendance. And you guys are talking about growth and percentage increase, etc., but that's only because they were cratered prior to that. They peaked at only 1.85 million during that stretch. Loria was a disaster for a long time, but you can understand thinking after 04 and 05 that it was just not going to work.

(Which doesn't excuse how he ran the team, or why he didn't sell the team, etc. Lots of faults to be found.)
   47. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:21 PM (#5592888)
One thing to be noted about attendance is even if you take out the 2012 bump for the first season they've had better attendance the last five years. Not a huge bump but about 10% which isn't nothing. That's down to location. Joe Robbie Stadium (always and forever Joe Robbie dammit) was and remains poorly located. It's a pain in the ass to get to. Marlin Park is much better located. All of that goes double if your focus is Little Havana.
   48. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:23 PM (#5592890)
And yours isn’t?

No, it isn't. It's very hard to demonstrate, but I was agnostic about the Miami Marlims Market Mystery when I moved down here. I tended to be sympathetic to the 'better owner, better fans' position.

But living in the market, and looking at the history has made me very sceptical about the case being made by the proponents of 'Huizenga-Henry-Loria ruined it' hypothesis.

I am open to a good counter-argument, at least if it is based on an interpretation of the data contrary to mine.

But simply repeating 'Cubans love baseball' and 'ownership sucked' doesn't work for me any more.

I think there are good structural reasons that make it harder to build a fanbase in South Florida, and because of that the margin for error was quite small.

I also don't think ownership sucked as much as everyone else thinks. Mr Henry did a decent job re-building the club in his short time in charge, and Mr Loria isn't quite the monster he is portrayed as being round here. Arguably Sherman-Jeter have in a matter of weeks undone all of Mr Loria's good work of the past 3-4 years. On present trends they could turn out worse than Huizenga, if such things are possible.
   49. Greg Pope Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:24 PM (#5592894)
The Pirates have been in Pittsburgh for well over a century. Current fans could have heard stories about the Pirates from their grandfathers, who could have heard stories about the Pirates from their grandfathers. That makes a difference.

I was going to post this. During the down years, you had adult fans who had grown up with the team and seen their good days. They would still be die-hard fans. I mean, a fan who was only alive for the down years would only have been 20 years old at the end. The attendance certainly isn't driven by teenagers. Now, a kid who was just getting into baseball at the age of 10 when the down years started would have suffered through all of their fan-building years with a bad team. But it wouldn't have been obvious at first.

Basically, it's pretty hard to destroy an existing fan base, especially one that's been there over a hundred years. I don't think the situations are comparable.
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:27 PM (#5592898)
I also don't think ownership sucked as much as everyone else thinks. Mr Henry did a decent job re-building the club in his short time in charge, and Mr Loria isn't quite the monster he is portrayed as being round here.

What?

What other team has discarded major talent immediately following 2 World Series and a brand new tax-payer funded ballpark?

Three times the team immediately and intentionally dashed any signs of hope among the fanbase.
   51. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:28 PM (#5592899)
Joe Robbie Stadium (always and forever Joe Robbie dammit) was and remains poorly located. It's a pain in the ass to get to. Marlin Park is much better located.

None of this is true if you come from much further north than Pembroke Pines-Miramar, I should think. I'd much rather go down the turnpike and get off at Joe Robbie, than continue on to Little Havana on I-95.

OTOH, Marlins Park is a much nicer venue, once one is there.

Nate Silver in his piece on measuring market sizes written for BPro back in the day noted that the Orange Bowl site would cost the Marlins some 300k in the size of the potential attendance. That's people like me, who live in north Broward or Palm Beach counties.
   52. BrianBrianson Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:31 PM (#5592905)
Miami is the eighth largest metro area in the US. That's pretty large. Really, only NY, LA, and Chicago are substantially bigger. There's a lot of people. It's almost three times Cleveland or Pittsburgh. You don't even need nearly the same intrinsic interest.

As far as changing ownership - I doubt casual fans notice, unless it translates into how the club is run.
   53. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:32 PM (#5592906)
What other team has discarded major talent immediately following 2 World Series

Please list the 'major talent immediately' discarded after 2003.

I mean, like when Dombrowski was ordered to trade Moises Alou, Robb Nen, Devon White and Kevin Brown, among others, by Christmas 1997.

I want to make sure I share your understanding of 'major talent' and 'immediately'.
   54. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:37 PM (#5592907)
Please list the 'major talent immediately' discarded after 2003.

I mean, like when Dombrowski was ordered to trade Moises Alou, Robb Nen, Devon White and Kevin Brown, among others, by Christmas 1997.

I want to make sure I share your understanding of 'major talent' and 'immediately'.


The two biggest names on the 2003 World Series winner were Ivan Rodriguez and Derek Lee. They let Rodriguez leave as a FA (to the 119 loss Tigers of all teams) and traded Lee.

That sends a signal to your fan base. When you win the World Series, you bring back your marquee players.
   55. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 06:00 PM (#5592919)
The two biggest names on the 2003 World Series winner were Ivan Rodriguez and Derek Lee.

First of all, this is wrong. Mike Lowell was 'the marquee attraction' of the early 2000s Marlins. Latin heritage and one of the better players in the league at his position.

They let Rodriguez leave as a FA (to the 119 loss Tigers of all teams) and traded Lee.

That sends a signal to your fan base. When you win the World Series, you bring back your marquee players.


Rodriguez was signed to a one-year deal in 2003 because the Marlins had a gaping Charles-Johnson sized hole at catcher. It's not like he'd been with the team even as long as Gary Sheffield had in 1997. During the 2003/4 off-season nobody wanted to sign him to a longer-term deal because of injury fears, and the Tigers only did so in a carefully structure deal that accounted for the risk.

Ironically, in terms of posts at this site, Derrek Lee brought back a sabermetric favourite, Hee-Seop Choi. But, yes, I'll give you Derrek Lee, traded at the 2003 Winter Meetings. They also let July 2003 pick-up Ugueth Urbina walk as a free agent.

That left on the roster the aforementioned Mike Lowell. They retained the young rotation -- Burnett, Pavano, Penny, Willis and Beckett. They retained the young 20-year-old Miguel Cabrera who managed a .793 OPS in 346 PA, and put him in RF next season, trading away the 2003 incumbent Juan Encarnacion. They re-signed free agent Luis Castillo, whose .381 OBP had been rather useful. They retained their CF, Juan Pierre, who batted .300. They added Hee Seop-Choi at 1b, and moved Mr Marlin, Jeff Conine to LF. (Conine had been a part-time in 2003.)

Basically, they retained the team that had won them the World Series, with the exception of Rodriguez, whom everybody was afraid of signing.

The 1997 Marlins traded away four stars before Christmas. The 2003 Marlins traded away one, and let two rentals walk. I hardly think the latter counts as a fire-sale.
   56. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 06:38 PM (#5592936)
Just reviewing this thread, these are the pro-Miami arguments

a) Cubans are natural baseball aficionados
b) Ownership has been bad
c) Lack of a dominant team in the franchise's history.
d) Franchise has only been there a couple of decades.
e) It's one of the bigger markets

There's no possible counter-argument to (a). It is a shibboleth.

If you want a counter-argument to (c) and (d) I'd suggest looking at the Colorado Rockies, who did nearly draw 3 million this season. It also kind of puts paid to (e).

(b) is valid up to a point, but I think is exaggerated. Marlins fans have some reason to be aggrieved. The fire-sale happened in 1997, and they were right to turn their backs on Huizenga. Mr Henry mostly complained about the ballpark, but did a partial rebuild. He wasn't the best owner in the world, but he let Dombrowski do his job. Unfortunately, the fans didn't really accept his apology.

Mr Loria was without doubt an abrasive cheapskate, but it's easy to find baseball reasons to justify many of his actions, if one wants to give him the benefit of the doubt. Of course no-one wants to do that. Even when he signed Stanton, nobody believed Loria would keep him around for the duration of the contract. It was Carlos Delgado's backloaded contract all over again. But to be fair to Mr Loria, he did.

One could look at the attendance record and argue that things were beginning to look up for the Marlins, until Jose Fernandez' accident. Attendance fell off this year, even though Mr Loria went and got Edinson Volquez and Dan Straily as part of a scheme to help replace Fernandez, and rely on the bullpen to take over at third time through the order. But no-one is making this argument, because it would involve giving credit to Mr Loria and, of course, he's the scapegoat.
   57. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 07:33 PM (#5592964)
   58. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 07:50 PM (#5592972)
Rodriguez was signed to a one-year deal in 2003 because the Marlins had a gaping Charles-Johnson sized hole at catcher. It's not like he'd been with the team even as long as Gary Sheffield had in 1997. During the 2003/4 off-season nobody wanted to sign him to a longer-term deal because of injury fears, and the Tigers only did so in a carefully structure deal that accounted for the risk.

Ironically, in terms of posts at this site, Derrek Lee brought back a sabermetric favourite, Hee-Seop Choi. But, yes, I'll give you Derrek Lee, traded at the 2003 Winter Meetings. They also let July 2003 pick-up Ugueth Urbina walk as a free agent.

That left on the roster the aforementioned Mike Lowell. They retained the young rotation -- Burnett, Pavano, Penny, Willis and Beckett. They retained the young 20-year-old Miguel Cabrera who managed a .793 OPS in 346 PA, and put him in RF next season, trading away the 2003 incumbent Juan Encarnacion. They re-signed free agent Luis Castillo, whose .381 OBP had been rather useful. They retained their CF, Juan Pierre, who batted .300. They added Hee Seop-Choi at 1b, and moved Mr Marlin, Jeff Conine to LF. (Conine had been a part-time in 2003.)

Basically, they retained the team that had won them the World Series, with the exception of Rodriguez, whom everybody was afraid of signing.

The 1997 Marlins traded away four stars before Christmas. The 2003 Marlins traded away one, and let two rentals walk. I hardly think the latter counts as a fire-sale.


So what? When a team wins the World Series, fans expect you to add talent. The Marlins did the opposite in a big way.
   59. Ford Prefect Posted: December 14, 2017 at 08:45 PM (#5592999)
The Marlins did the opposite in a big way.

Except they didn't. I did a little research and found they tried to re-sign Pudge, but he didn't like the offer, and generally people were, as I said, reluctant to give Pudge a long-term contract of the kind he wanted.

The Marlins also called on Vladimir Guerrero, at least for appearance' sake.

They traded Lee for a younger player, who gave them a left-handed power bat for a lineup dominated by right-handed power like Lee. Choi was also cheaper, which without doubt was attractive to Mr Loria. But it also made 'baseball sense'.

Even if I was willing to concede that they did the opposite, it was hardly 'in a big way'. They had a solid core, and kept it together. When Choi didn't work out, they signed Delgado to a heavily backloaded contract.

I mean, in reality you are undercutting your own argument here, in order to win the point on 2003/4 being a fire-sale. The Marlins' attendance went up in 2004, and again, by a smaller amount, in 2005. So clearly the fans endorsed what the front office was doing. It only fell off in 2006, after trades that sent away Lowell, Delgado and Beckett.
   60. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 09:34 PM (#5593019)
Except they didn't. I did a little research and found they tried to re-sign Pudge, but he didn't like the offer, and generally people were, as I said, reluctant to give Pudge a long-term contract of the kind he wanted.

The Marlins also called on Vladimir Guerrero, at least for appearance' sake.

They traded Lee for a younger player, who gave them a left-handed power bat for a lineup dominated by right-handed power like Lee. Choi was also cheaper, which without doubt was attractive to Mr Loria. But it also made 'baseball sense'.

Even if I was willing to concede that they did the opposite, it was hardly 'in a big way'. They had a solid core, and kept it together. When Choi didn't work out, they signed Delgado to a heavily backloaded contract.

I mean, in reality you are undercutting your own argument here, in order to win the point on 2003/4 being a fire-sale. The Marlins' attendance went up in 2004, and again, by a smaller amount, in 2005. So clearly the fans endorsed what the front office was doing. It only fell off in 2006, after trades that sent away Lowell, Delgado and Beckett.


They traded Lee for a worse, less famous player. The let Rodriguez and Urbina go, and added no significant FAs. That's a sell-off. Cutting payroll is always viewed as not trying by the fans. Research published by someone on this site (can't remember who) showed that fans use payroll as a proxy for trying to win.

And I didn't call 2003-04 a "firesale". I said:

What other team has discarded major talent immediately following 2 World Series and a brand new tax-payer funded ballpark?

And why do you keep calling him Mr. Loria? At my company, we call our CEO by his first name, ad we work for him. You on't work for Loria, and he certainly hasn't earned any title of respect.
   61. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 14, 2017 at 09:59 PM (#5593030)
And why do you keep calling him Mr. Loria?

I was wondering the same thing. Fra, do you write for the New York Times or something?
   62. Walt Davis Posted: December 14, 2017 at 10:57 PM (#5593050)
I'm not as certain as fra paolo is, but proponents of this argument have some explaining to do about 2002-2005,

What's so hard to explain. You do half of the explanation yourself -- they had cratered to the point they weren't even drawing 1 M fans ... not even 900,000. Just how quickly do you expect somebody to rebound from that?

Second, they simply weren't a good team. The WS-winning team was a 91-win WC that followed that up with two seasons a bit over 500. They had a solid first half in 2004, just 1.5 back and were generally drawing well on the weekends but not mid-week. But even just 1.5 back they were only 45-43. They played 500 for the next few weeks while somebody got hot and they were 9 games back by Aug 11. Still attendance held on, even averaging nearly 30,000 for a week with the Giants and Rox. In Sept attendance was just weird -- a disastrous 4-day series with Montreal and a poor mid-week with the Mets but major weekend draws with Atlanta, a Monday double-header with the Cubs (37,000) and a solid mid-week with Philly.

In 2005 they got off to a solid 28-24 start and were tied but by the AS break they were 7 back, 44-42, just off a 3-game sweep at home by the Cubs. The attendance pattern looks different though -- now just under 20,000 mid-week, just over on weekends, except one against the Mets. That sweep was a weekend series against the Cubs that drew only about 60,000 -- how is that possible? They drew 66,000 for a mid-week series against the Pirates just a couple of weeks later. They continued to meander around 500, never got closer than 4.5 games.

WS titles are awesome but fans respond better (methinks) to sustained strong performance that the Marlins have never had.

The DBacks started out with strong attendance, over 3.6 M in their first year. They stayed around 3 M in years 2 and 3 ... then saw a drop to 2.7 even though they won 92 games and the WS that year. They saw a nice bump back up the next year but to "just" 3.1 M -- really good but still below that 3.6 starting point. They won 98 but lost in the playoffs and dropped back to 2.8 M for an 84-win team. They lost 111 the next year and saw attendance drop to 2.5 M then 2 M the next year despite 77 wins. A division title in 2007 only saw a small bump of about 250,000 (12%). They have bounced around between 2 and 2.2 M since then, drawing no more fans this year than the 81 win team of 2013. Probably they'll see a small bump in 2018, at least at the start but if they're back to being a 500ish team, it probably won't sustain.

The Rangers topped out at 3.5 M in 2012, after their 2nd AL pennant. In 2015, they were down to 2.5 M despite 88 wins and a division title. They saw a small boost for 2016 (another division title) then fell back to 2.5 this year.

The Mariners topped out at 3.5 M in the 116-win and the following season. One more good year but then a decade of mostly pretty lousy teams and their attendance was less than half of that in 2012-13. They've built solid but unspectacular teams since but have added just 400,000.

The White Sox were a surprise WS champ in 2005 but saw only a 400,000 increase that year (1.9 to 2.3). The big jump was in 2006 when they had 2.9 but missed the playoffs despite a solid 90 wins. They started dropping despite 89 wins and a division title in 2008 ... they even dropped from 2008-9 by 9%. They've averaged only about 1.75 over the last 5 years.

Sometimes even constant winning isn't enough. The Braves dynasty topped out at 3.5 M in 1997 (also first year of Turner Field) but were down to 2.5 M for the last title in 2005. Braves fans were pretty loyal though, keeping them around 2.4-2.5 M until 2015. They were back up to 2.5 M this year but some of that is presumably the new stadium.

I'm not sure what the evidence is that Pirate fans turned out. It depends somewhat from where you want to start counting. The pessimistic view is that they were at 1.9 M in 2011 (15th of 16), then after a strong of 94, 88 and 98 wins and 3 WCs they added 600,000 in 2015 (9th of 15) ... then two below-500 years has them back at 1.9 M (12th). The optimistic view would look back to the 57-win team of 2010 and their 1.6 M but that was still 15th and who knows where that 300,000 boost from 2010-11 came from (72 wins is better than 57 but ...).

So the Pirates had three straight good teams and playoff trips and added 600-900,000; the Marlins had one good season but a WS win and two 83-win seasons and saw an increase of 800,000. Those aren't radically different. The "shocker" is that things got so bad in Miami that they dropped below 900,000.

That is the fair point here -- why is Miami's base as low as it has been? But below 900,000 -- that's clear evidence of ownership malfeasance. Maybe it's shitty marketing, maybe it's a shitty stadium, maybe it's a shitty team, most likely they all play a part ... but it's more than just shitty fans. And let's remember they ran out of hot dogs on opening night of Loria's first season. He made it clear from day one (literally) that the fans were not his main concern.

Post 53 in the thread.

Guilty! And that series of moves is defensible in my opinion. It is also fair to note that most of them were still payroll-influenced (i.e. generally moving more money than they were acquiring) and there were plenty of bad decisions in there (not necessarily among trades from the 2003 roster but some of the other signings). The Marlins also have a history of not acquiring major stars and, when they do, dumping them as quickly as they can -- the Huizenga fire sale, Delgado, Buehrle et al, now Stanton. Let's not forget that the Marlins even managed to turn Sheffield, a still-performing (but not for long) Bonilla, the very good 26-year-old Charles Johnson and a couple of other players into Todd Zeile, Preston Wilson and Ed Yarnall (via Mike Piazza).

Wilson ended up being the star of that group so of course they traded him off (with Charles Johnson again!) once he hit arb, bringing back Juan Pierre and the mid-flip Hampton, picking up ever-precious cash along the way. So Pierre became the star of that trade so of course he got traded after three seasons. That was a very good baseball trade (Nolasco plus two guys who didn't work out) but I'm guessing not many folks in Miami will look back fondly on the Nolasco years.

Nothing necessarily wrong with those moves but they are a Beane-ian level of acts making sure the fans will never become attached to any player. If you aren't going to allow fans to become attached to star players, isn't winning again and again and again the only way to build an audience?

At the end of the day, in 25 years, they have never won a division title. They've never finished closer than 6 games (which was not a WC year). They've never won more than 92 games, their longest streak of winning seasons is 3. They've never tried being good.

And now they've traded away the league MVP.
   63. PreservedFish Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:04 PM (#5593051)
I was wondering the same thing. Fra, do you write for the New York Times or something?


And why do you extend owners a courtesy that players don't receive?
   64. An Athletic in Powderhorn™ Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:49 PM (#5593060)
I can't speak to fra's decision process, but just because he uses an honorific to refer to a person does not mean he approves of said person.
   65. eddieot Posted: December 15, 2017 at 08:36 AM (#5593094)
The Marlins aren’t trying to shed salary. Stanton was traded because he didn’t want to stick around. At least that’s the company line Michael Hill was peddling on MLB Network yesterday.

I guess Marcell Ozuna felt the same way.
   66. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 15, 2017 at 09:09 AM (#5593104)
Imagine what the Marlins' roster would look like if they traded every player who would rather play for another team.
   67. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 15, 2017 at 09:30 AM (#5593112)

When you've got half the Major League teams playing in Florida for a full month prior to opening day, isn't it kind of easy for fans to get used to Spring training ticket prices?

Most spring training facilities are not particularly close to Miami -- I believe the Nats and Astros in West Palm Beach are the closest, but even that is about 75 miles from Marlins Park. Then you've got a couple of teams in Jupiter (~90 miles away), and the rest are anywhere from 100-300 miles away.

I would doubt that has much if any effect on your typical Marlins regular season ticket buyer.
   68. jmurph Posted: December 15, 2017 at 10:37 AM (#5593161)
I'm not as certain as fra paolo is, but proponents of this argument have some explaining to do about 2002-2005,

What's so hard to explain. You do half of the explanation yourself -- they had cratered to the point they weren't even drawing 1 M fans ... not even 900,000. Just how quickly do you expect somebody to rebound from that?

Quicker than that? I certainly found it to be a bit surprising, which is why I posted it. I mean you can say they weren't good all you want, but they were coming off a World Series win and were fairly loaded with young stars or near-star level talent. If World Series win + young talent isn't a recipe for boosting attendance to even 2 million, then that might raise some questions about the market. We're talking under 23,000 per game.

The Royals in 2015, during their World Series season, drew 2.7 million, good for 10th, after 1.9/25th the year before, and otherwise being in the bottom 5-6 for as many years as I cared to click on. That's a pretty quick rise, during the winning year, not even the year after (in 2016 they were at 2.55/12th, then back to 2.2/17th this year, and presumably will continue to spiral down). The Marlins got as many as 2.7 exactly once, in their first year (3 million, good for 7th), then immediately fell back to 1.9.

I think I've previously been on the side thinking it's purely about the ownership. But honestly, there's a lot of support for the idea that the market is total crap.
   69. BrianBrianson Posted: December 15, 2017 at 10:51 AM (#5593189)
The Royals went

2013 1.75M
2014 1.96M (+210K)
2015 2.71M (+750K)
2016 2.56M (-150K)

Total change: +810K

The Marlins went
2002 0.81M
2003 1.30M (+490K)
2004 1.72M (+420K)
2005 1.85M (+130K)

Total change +1.04M

The Marlins got a bigger boost from the WS win than the Royals did. If you keep ignoring how ownership was blasting "STAY AWAY" out of bullhorns, of course you're going to get a dumb and wrong analysis.
   70. jmurph Posted: December 15, 2017 at 11:11 AM (#5593209)
A. It was a different ownership group, one that won a World Series and mostly kept it together for two years.
B. I don't agree that the raw increase is more illustrative of the market's place in the league than the league attendance rankings of 29-28-26-27 during that time period. 1.85 million people is crap, it's failure.
C. If you want to argue that KC's ownership group crapped on their fans less than that of the Marlins, go nuts. I would disagree, and then note they still jumped all the way to 10th place in their WS winning season.

But thanks for the nice post in an otherwise friendly thread!
   71. -- Posted: December 15, 2017 at 11:16 AM (#5593215)
Miami didn't take to the 1997 championship-caliber nucleus, the 2003-04 championship-caliber nucleus, or the new park Buehrle/Reyes/Josh Johnson nucleus. It's never shown really even the slightest hint of being a good MLB market. Every owner that's taken a hard look at the books has cut payroll dramatically, and we're now on ownership group number three. Each one has done exactly the same fundamental thing with the payroll.

The idea that it's a better baseball market than a place like Detroit is just insane -- a theory without a single lick of support. Its fundamentals as a market are nothing close to KC, either.

It's not a great market in any of the other three major sports either. It's just a very tepid sports town, much like San Diego -- with which it shares an obvious and definitive commonality.
   72. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2017 at 11:21 AM (#5593220)
Miami didn't take to the 1997 championship-caliber nucleus, the 2003-04 championship-caliber nucleus, or the new park Buehrle/Reyes/Josh Johnson nucleus.

None was allowed to stay together for more than 18 months. The first Championship team was broken up before they got their rings.

Do you think fans are stupid?
   73. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 15, 2017 at 11:23 AM (#5593222)
The idea that it's a better baseball market than a place like Detroit is just insane -- a theory without a single lick of support. Its fundamentals as a market are nothing close to KC, either.


It's not a better market than Detroit because Detroit's owners have been trying their hardest to win for 25 years, while the Marlins screw over their fans at every opportunity.

The economic fundamentals of the Miami market are much, much better than Detroit. Not to mention it's one of the top 2 or 3 cities young millionaires would want to live in.
   74. BrianBrianson Posted: December 15, 2017 at 11:37 AM (#5593235)
B. I don't agree that the raw increase is more illustrative of the market's place in the league than the league attendance rankings of 29-28-26-27 during that time period. 1.85 million people is crap, it's failure.


I mean, we know you hold this position, but it's completely unreasonable and unsupportable. How often do teams grow their attendance faster than +1 million over two years? Braves did it in '91, and kept it by committing to the team. Orioles did it in '92, (Camden Yards opened) - Yankees, Cubs, never) It's really tough - The Astros have been growing about +800K over the last four years going from 50 wins to WS winners. Fan bases just don't react instantaneously.
   75. jmurph Posted: December 15, 2017 at 11:43 AM (#5593241)
The Royals improved dramatically, very quickly, as shown above. They were among the 2-3 worst run franchises in the league for most of my adult life (yet were still outdrawing the Marlins in most years, mind you), then immediately shot up by just under a million to a very respectable 2.7 million (good for 10th) DURING their WS winning year, so not even basking in the glow of the WS win.

Also I just want to note I'm currently comparing the Marlins, unfavorably, to what would have been among the consensus worst ownership groups in baseball prior to the WS win, playing in one of the three smallest markets in the league.
   76. Zach Posted: December 15, 2017 at 11:57 AM (#5593247)
Bear in mind that the Royals made a run to the seventh game of the World Series in 2014. 2015 was a halo year for them, as well as being a charmed year on the field.
   77. jmurph Posted: December 15, 2017 at 12:00 PM (#5593250)
Bear in mind that the Royals made a run to the seventh game of the World Series in 2014. 2015 was a halo year for them, as well as being a charmed year on the field.

Ugh, completely forgot that. So basically the KC WS winning year of 15 might be comparable to the Marlins 04 when looking at attendance. KC outdrew the Marlins by just under a million.
   78. Ford Prefect Posted: December 15, 2017 at 12:01 PM (#5593252)
I have a deadline today, so this is the only post I'll make until I get past that.

And I didn't call 2003-04 a "firesale".

Fair enough, but your broad point is that bad management in South Florida has equalled bad attendance. And specifically, in relation to the 2003 World Champion Marlins, that the failure to add talent alienated fans.

But the attendance data shows that fans did not see the that failure as a negative. Attendance rose in two successive seasons. It only fell after Mr Loria decided to embark on a rebuild part-way through the 2003 season.

they simply weren't a good team.

It's true. Despite two World Championships, the Marlins have had a hard time fielding a consistent winning team.

But to put the focus on the proposition being debated here -- 'Resolved, a succession of bad owners has damaged the viability of South Florida as a baseball market.' -- it becomes a legitimate question as to whether that is down to the refusal of successive owners to try to build a winning team, or to plans going pear-shaped once implemented. In the end, from the fans' point of view it may not matter very much. But if we are trying to apportion blame I see little reason to fault Mr Henry and believe the evidence suggests it is more difficult to fault Mr Loria than received wisdom would tell us. But more of that anon.

why is Miami's base as low as it has been? But below 900,000 -- that's clear evidence of ownership malfeasance.

I think there are three answers to that question. The first is that, like Tampa Bay, the Marlins started from a lower base than one might expect. Here's the capacity percentages of attendance for the four 1993-98 expansion teams in their first season, and then in their fourth (which is the season before the Marlins' first world championship and the season of the Diamondbacks' first):
FLA 87  52 
COL 74  96 
ARI 92  69
TBD 68  37 

Colorado is problematic because they drew in excess of 4 million to a football stadium on their debut, and then opened their own ballpark their third year. However, attendance went up the season after Coors Field opened. I would expect a new team to draw like Arizona (and like Year One at Coors), and the Marlins are just a tad off that.

The second reason in part explains the first, but I also believe its legacy impact is significant. The year after the Marlins debut, we had The 1994-5 Strike. The ballpark was working at 67 per cent capacity in just short of 60 home games. So, even if we allow that 87 per cent of capacity is close enough to 92 per cent (in Arizona), the strike appears to have clobbered attendance in South Florida. In 1995, in 71 home games, attendance averaged 58 per cent capacity and in 1996 only 52 per cent capacity. Of the four teams, only Tampa Bay has performed worse. (And much worse.)

The problem for our resolve, though, is that Mr Huizenga opposed the hard-line negotiating position that led to the strike. He voted with Mr Steinbrenner.

However, Mr Huizenga is at fault for the third reason, which are his cynical manoeuvres in the aftermath of the 1997 World Champions. The fire-sale caused attendance to sag. Again, looking at attendance of World Series winners 1993-2014, no other team saw anything like the fall-off that occurred to the Marlins in 1998. Total (not capacity) attendance was 74 per cent of that of the World Series year. And it kept falling, as by three years after it was only 52 per cent. The next lowest percentage belongs to the 2003 Marlins, who fell off to 84 per cent of Championship year attendance in 2006. The next lowest after that belongs to 2004 Diamondbacks, who fell to 92 per cent during a 100-loss season.

So, to recap, my three reasons for Miami's low base
a) Marginally lower starting point
b) The Strike
c) Mr Huizenga's Fire Sale

And let's remember they ran out of hot dogs on opening night of Loria's first season. He made it clear from day one (literally) that the fans were not his main concern.


Let's also remember that Mr Loria was only actually in charge of the Marlins from February 2002. It doesn't excuse such a heinous crime as running out of hot dogs, but he may not have been able to give concession arrangements as much attention as he would have liked.

The Marlins also have a history of not acquiring major stars and, when they do, dumping them as quickly as they can....[Preston] Wilson ended up being the star of that group so of course they traded him off (with Charles Johnson again!) once he hit arb

Let's first deal with Wilson. He was not traded off once he hit arb. Mr Henry had agreed to a 5-year extension in 2000 with him covering 01-05. Mr Loria didn't even trade him during the 2002 season. He did trade him during the 2002/3 offseason in a deal that helped build the 2003 World Champions.

But, as for not acquiring major stars, a big reason for that are the cynical manoeuvres of Mr Huizenga. Not content with ordering the fire sale, when he sold the team he imposed a catastrophic lease on the Marlins as tenants. The Marlins' revenue from the ballpark was exceptionally low, compared to other teams, which in practical terms affected their ability to sign expensive free agents.

Upon gaining the revenue streams that Mr Huizenga had monopolised, Mr Loria immediately boosted payroll to nearly $90 million. The result was the 2012 93-loss team, so one can hardly blame him for thinking he could do better, and dumping all those overpaid underperformers and start building up a new team. In 2013, the arrival of Jose Fernandez, Marcel Ozuna and Christian Yelich, suggested opportunity, so they began building towards a payroll that in 2017 amounted to $125 million, even before Giancarlo Stanton's big money years. At which point Mr Loria exited the scene, having apparently run up $400 million of debt despite his penny-pinching. He left behind a team that is one or two good starting pitchers away from contention, and also had secured South Florida's best three-year run of attendance since Mr Huizenga's days.

I submit that the evidence suggests the ballpark lease prior to Marlins Park was a significant handicap to the progress of the Marlins, and an explanation as to their sorry history of free agent signings and Miguel Cabrera retainings. It's not that we should take Mr Loria's cries of penury at face value. But it's not a factor one can dismiss easily, either. It also partly helps explain why...

They've never tried being good.

Money is the sinews of winning baseball, and the Marlins have been meaningfully short of it relative to other baseball teams during their history.

WS titles are awesome but fans respond better (methinks) to sustained strong performance

This is probably true, and I wouldn't be surprised if it had been the subject of some SABR presentation at some point.

* * * *

I'm opposed to the Resolve, because I think it rests upon three myths

Myth #1 South Florida is inherently a great market for baseball.

There's no evidence for that. There is evidence it is not a bad market, that it could be a good mid-sized one. I have avoided discussing the geographical issues with baseball down here, but they have a significant and underestimated impact. In my opinion. These constraints are what prevent it from being a great market. (I also suspect that South Florida fans don't have much patience, and in this they resemble Expos' fans. But I'm not sure how to demonstrate that.)

Myth #2 A succession of bad owners have antagonised the fan base.

It's not a succession of bad owners, but one single cynical owner, Huizenga, who badly damaged the market. For Mr Henry and Mr Loria before 2012, it was very much a case of trying to make the proverbial silk purse of of a sow's ear.

Myth #3 Every time the Marlins get a good team, they have a fire sale

It's true of the 1997 World Champions, and the 2012 New Ballpark losers. And now, it appears, of the 2017 Stantons (who were only an average team). But you can't say it of Mr Henry's efforts, and it doesn't stand up to scrutiny for the rest of Mr Loria's tenure.

Like a lot of such debates, everything really depends on what one wants to believe, and then finding iron-clad evidence that demonstrate this truth.

But it seems to me that if one starts from an impartial basis, very few of the charges laid at ownerships' feet stand up to scrutiny. There's usually a problem that must temper our cries of 'J'accuse!'.

However, the ones that stand up best are solely addressed to Mr Huizenga. And that means the resolve can't be supported.
   79. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 15, 2017 at 12:06 PM (#5593258)
Mr Loria

Mr Henry

Mr Huizenga

This is just getting weird...
   80. jmurph Posted: December 15, 2017 at 12:08 PM (#5593262)
YR does the Mr thing, too, perhaps it's a Floridian thing (at least I think YR is a Floridian, apologies to Floridians if I'm wrong about that.)
   81. BDC Posted: December 15, 2017 at 12:11 PM (#5593264)
When I lived in New York I used to say, and hear people say, "Mr Steinbrenner"; and for a while here in Texas, "Mr Hicks." It was not really a courtesy. The tone was "Fat Cat you'd never see here in the bleachers."

But nobody says "Mr Cuban" or "Mr Jones." The former is just "Cuban," and the latter is "Jerry" or "#######."

I don't even know who owns the Texas Rangers these days.

   82. tshipman Posted: December 15, 2017 at 12:33 PM (#5593282)
No, it isn't. It's very hard to demonstrate, but I was agnostic about the Miami Marlims Market Mystery when I moved down here. I tended to be sympathetic to the 'better owner, better fans' position.

But living in the market, and looking at the history has made me very sceptical about the case being made by the proponents of 'Huizenga-Henry-Loria ruined it' hypothesis.

I am open to a good counter-argument, at least if it is based on an interpretation of the data contrary to mine.


In my opinion, the best test cases are always parallel products.

The Miami Heat opened in 1988--within 4 years of the Marlins.

Here are their attendance finishes:
1988-89: 12
90: 14
91: 15
92: 15
93: 17
94: 16*
95: 22
96: 25
97: 25
98: 23
99: 23
00: 13**
01: 15
02: 15
03: 22
04: 24
05: 4***
06: 4^
07: 5
08: 8
09: 15
10: 15
11: 5^^
12: 4
13: 3
14: 4
15: 6
16: 6
17: 7

*= First playoffs made
**= Move to new arena
*** = First Shaq year
^ = First championship
^^= First LeBron Year

I think the Heat kind of put your beliefs to the test, Fra Paolo. They were a new expansion team around the same time as the Marlins. They were a well-run franchise, building to the playoffs and eventually winning the title. Fans supported most the teams that brought in an exciting superstar, but after fans got used to coming, the team earned their continued support. Goran Dragic isn't exactly LeBron James, but the team still draws well even when missing the playoffs.

Edit: Btw: I think we can certainly agree that Miami is a better inherent market for baseball than for basketball, which is why I used that example as opposed to the Dolphins.
   83. Tony S Posted: December 15, 2017 at 12:54 PM (#5593311)
Honest questions: how much of Marlins Park is taxpayer funded? Was the funding authorized through a referendum?

I figure that if Miami was a bad baseball market, a referendum to publicly fund a ballpark would have a tough time garnering voter approval. So what's the story there?
   84. Tony S Posted: December 15, 2017 at 12:55 PM (#5593314)
Deleted double post
   85. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: December 15, 2017 at 01:03 PM (#5593331)
YR does the Mr thing, too, perhaps it's a Floridian thing (at least I think YR is a Floridian, apologies to Floridians if I'm wrong about that.)


Maybe it's a(n ex-) military thing, judging from the idiotic examples in, as I love to call it, Dung & Swill.
   86. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 15, 2017 at 01:14 PM (#5593343)
YR does the Mr thing, too, perhaps it's a Floridian thing (at least I think YR is a Floridian, apologies to Floridians if I'm wrong about that.)

But note the lack of a period after the Mr. (Well, not there, but in the cited posts). That's a British thing.
   87. Rally Posted: December 15, 2017 at 03:56 PM (#5593460)
On the Heat vs. Marlins - I think the main thing that shows is that Miami is a better market for a winter sport than a summer sport.
   88. tshipman Posted: December 15, 2017 at 04:07 PM (#5593465)
On the Heat vs. Marlins - I think the main thing that shows is that Miami is a better market for a winter sport than a summer sport.


I mean, maybe, but you would probably have to prove that.

Sports fans are sports fans. They don't all of a sudden become willing to go to games in December.
   89. BrianBrianson Posted: December 15, 2017 at 04:42 PM (#5593482)
Ugh, completely forgot that. So basically the KC WS winning year of 15 might be comparable to the Marlins 04 when looking at attendance. KC outdrew the Marlins by just under a million.


The Marlins' attendance improved more than the Royals. Kansas City didn't have a tradition of fire sale-ing away anyone who'd make money, they were trying to win and failing (or at least, acted like it) - so the initial fan base was hire. Walking up a flight of stairs in Lhasa is not a bigger climb than climbing Mount Mitchell.
   90. Curtschillingsdingleberrybatboy Posted: December 15, 2017 at 04:57 PM (#5593499)
as amused by how honest Stanton was during his press conference

Yes, his “watch from a distance” line was great. I almost expected him to say, “put your hands over your eyes, then move your fingers apart a little bit. That’s the best way to enjoy the Marlins.”
   91. -- Posted: December 15, 2017 at 05:25 PM (#5593522)
The economic fundamentals of the Miami market are much, much better than Detroit.


Which has literally nothing to do with baseball. People in Detroit have a far higher propensity to spend their money on major league baseball and the Detroit Tigers than people in Miami. There are many reasons why this is: 1. A far longer tradition of baseball passed through the generations; 2. Far fewer transplants; 3. Far fewer other entertainment and leisure time options; 4. Far more pleasurable outdoor summer weather; 5. Intangible "just because" factors.

There's simply no there there with baseball in Miami. The interest is, at best, tepid. In 25 years, it's never been anything but, and it's never given the slightest indication it's ever going to be anything but.
   92. -- Posted: December 15, 2017 at 05:35 PM (#5593527)
There was no sell-off after 2003, and the Marlins had an exciting young team that had just beat the Yankees in the WS -- and in 2004, they drew 1.7 million fans.

That's literally nothing like the way KC responded when the Royals got good again.

The '87 Twins were very similar to the '03 Marlins and in 1988, the Twins drew over 3 million to the friggin' Metrodome. Miami has never shown the slightest inclination that anything like that would ever happen. They had the novelty 3 million year as an expansion team, and the fans pretty much took a peek and a sample that year and said, "Nope, not really interested." That hasn't changed a bit in the 23 years since.
   93. -- Posted: December 15, 2017 at 05:40 PM (#5593530)
In the good markets, fans find their way to the ballpark or the arena no matter how bad ownership is and no matter how shitty the ballpark is. In bad markets, they don't find their way to the ballpark no matter how good the team is or how good the ballpark is or how good ownership is. Those things do impact attendance, obviously, but far more at the margins than in any secular way.

   94. tshipman Posted: December 15, 2017 at 07:29 PM (#5593550)
In the good markets, fans find their way to the ballpark or the arena no matter how bad ownership is and no matter how shitty the ballpark is. In bad markets, they don't find their way to the ballpark no matter how good the team is or how good the ballpark is or how good ownership is. Those things do impact attendance, obviously, but far more at the margins than in any secular way.


Explain the difference in attendance between the Clippers and the Lakers.
   95. BDC Posted: December 15, 2017 at 08:41 PM (#5593565)
Explain the difference in attendance between the Clippers and the Lakers

Or the Yankees and the Mets for that matter: the former good a long time and monotonously near the top in attendance, the latter yo-yoing from top to bottom as they've been good or bad over the years.
   96. Ford Prefect Posted: December 15, 2017 at 08:57 PM (#5593571)
If you keep ignoring how ownership was blasting "STAY AWAY" out of bullhorns

No-one was actually blaring ‘stay away’, of course. There were threats to move the franchise, including a fake tour of San Antonio.

I think the Heat kind of put your beliefs to the test, Fra Paolo.

Possibly, although I don't really know enough about basketball as a business to comment. To be 3rd or 4th in MLB attendance, though, thus matching the Heat, would require something approaching 3.5 million attendance. I can only conceive of that as a pipe dream. Mid-table respectability at 2.5 million is the best the Marlins can hope for, and in a previous thread on this topic I believe I envisioned that as a realistic expectation from a good South Florida fanbase.

Honest questions: how much of Marlins Park is taxpayer funded? Was the funding authorized through a referendum?

Between them, the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County put up 80 per cent of the funding. There was no referendum. The package was approved by the city commission and the county commission only.

   97. homerwannabee Posted: December 16, 2017 at 06:08 AM (#5593649)
As far as where the Marlins would go, I think that a place like San Antonio/Austin would well receive a team. Huge market area to get people going to the games. Also Las Vegas having a baseball team seems to be an option eventually to happen. You already have a hockey team, and an NFL team coming there.
   98. Tony S Posted: December 16, 2017 at 08:15 AM (#5593664)

As I've said elsewhere, a lot of the arguments about Miami being a bad baseball town could have been made about Seattle in the early 1990's. The two metro areas share some similarities when it comes to geographic limitations. But the Mariners eventually developed a strong fanbase.

Miami fans have seen the rug pulled out from under them three times now. I won't blame them if they stop paying attention at this point, just like Montreal fans did when the Expos stopped trying. But we still don't really know how a team with strong, good-faith ownership would do in Miami. The Kansas City A's attendance was marginal; the Royals' attendance was abundant. Ewing Kauffman built up a lot of goodwill in the organization's early years, and I can't imagine that didn't have a residual positive effect on the franchise even after it crashed and burned on the field. Huzienga might have had the opposite effect in Miami -- he poisoned the well so badly that the Miami-area fans have developed a long-lasting skepticism about the organization. It certainly doesn't look like the subsequent ownership regimes have done much to reverse this.

   99. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: December 16, 2017 at 08:35 AM (#5593665)
As I've said elsewhere, a lot of the arguments about Miami being a bad baseball town could have been made about Seattle in the early 1990's


I don’t know how Seattle survived without guaranteed free money every year. I guess they had to figure out a way to expand and nurture their fanbase instead.
   100. Ford Prefect Posted: December 16, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5593687)
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