The Miami Marlins Redefine the Dictionary

Mike Ehrmann

The Miami Marlins were the poster child for disappointment in the 2012 season. But according to the team, that doesn't mean they "underachieved."

It's been exactly one week since the Miami Marlins announced the firing of manager Ozzie Guillen, officially making him the fall guy for last season's 69-93 season.

With the search for a new manager underway, we've perhaps gotten a glimpse into the front office's decision-making process, and it's not necessarily good news.

Case in point: managerial candidate Larry Bowa, during a chat with Chris Russo on "SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio," (you can read the Palm Beach Post's full transcript here) described how his official interview with team owner Jeffrey Loria went. One statement particularly stood out to me.

Russo: "Are you optimistic that something could happen there?"

Bowa: "You know what, Chris, you know how that goes. When you get interviewed you don’t know. You know, you think you did good, maybe you didn’t do good. I thought it was a good interview. We made some good points with each other."

Russo: "That team could use a little feistiness from you."

Bowa: (laughs) "Yeah, that was one of the issues that was brought up."

Russo: "They asked you how you are going to approach this team that underachieved, is that what they basically said?"

Bowa: "Well, no, they didn’t say underachieved. They said, are you gonna be, we need some intensity out there and we need some guys to play better than they played."

If you've seen any glimpse of a Marlins game or checked a box score over the past year, chances are the phrase "they didn't say underachieved" was one that caught your attention immediately.

As a refresher, here's the Merriam-Webster definition of the word "underachieve," or "underachiever" as it's listed sans one small change:

one (as a student player/team) that fails to attain a predicted level of achievement or does not do as well as expected

There are obviously a litany of words that could describe the Miami Marlins' season in 2012, several of which are inappropriate to use in this post, but "underachieve" is certainly one of them. For a team that began the season with players like Josh Johnson, Omar Infante, Giancarlo Stanton, Anibal Sanchez, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle on the roster, 93 losses certainly qualify as some level of disappointment. You may not have thought that the Marlins were a team ready to take the NL East division crown, but there were very few people who could have predicted just how bad the Fish were last season. And as petty as this may be to point out, if this is truly how the Marlins' front office is viewing the failures of the 2012 season, it'll be a long time before they're able to implement the "winning culture" Larry Beinfest has been talking about since Guillen's departure. Perhaps Bowa was just being politically correct (which is entirely understandable) during the interview, but if the Miami brass believes that a sprinkle of intensity is the solution to the problem, the task of making this ballclub relevant again will be that much more difficult.

On a side note, saying "we need some intensity out there" after having Ozzie Guillen as your manager further drives home the point that Ozzie's fate was pretty much a foregone conclusion. "Ozzie Guillen angry" on Google returns 509,000 results.

The offseason is still young and the Fish have already rid themselves of two of the biggest sources of headaches from the 2012 squad in Guillen and Heath Bell, but it's imperative that the organizational plan moving forward stresses honest evaluation and understands when "underachievement" does in fact fit the situation.

P.S. - For any of our East Coast readers out there, I hope you've been staying (and continue to stay) safe during Hurricane Sandy. Y'all are in my thoughts this week.

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