Billy the Marlin is ready to embrace a new year for the Miami Marlins. You should be ready as well. - Mike Ehrmann
The Miami Marlins had a rough year in 2012 to say the least, but there is tremendous value in moving on from the problems that occurred last year and go back to being fans of the team.
When news of the Miami Marlins trade with the Toronto Blue Jays came out, I mentioned that I would boycott the Marlins and avoid providing financial support for the team as a way to show my lack of support for owner Jeffrey Loria. However, I also said that boycotting the team should not preclude fans from supporting the team via other means and watching the Marlins play.
As I mentioned, however, the Marlins should not go unloved, even in public. The boycott does not mean that you do not speak of the Marlins and their 2013 play, nor does it mean that you should not proudly wear the gear you already have. And while this boycott calls for you to forego all purchases of tickets in 2013, it does not mean that you should not watch the team via television or MLB.tv if you have the chance. By all means, you should support the Marlins in any way that would still keep you from spending a dime on this team and giving it to Loria. I know that I will be tracking the team via their telecasts, as a part of that money is already guaranteed centrally to the Marlins as part of a larger fund. The Marlins have their television deals set, regardless of what I do right now, so using the television or radio is the safest bet for you to follow your favorite team without supporting its heinous owner.
Over time, it seems that some fans are doing such a thing and being supportive without having any interest in supporting Loria, but others it seems are so enthralled with despising Loria that they are having a difficult time supporting the actual team. This is easy to understand, as humans often fall for the problem of transference in such a situation. For many fans, it seems as though the front office and ownership's sins are being transferred onto the Marlins' players and coaches, even though they had nothing to do with the team's current situation.
Much of the offseason in the past few months has been spent griping about the miserable season the Marlins had in 2012 and its sad state as a result of the moves made in November and December. It is very easy to enter a negative state and stay there when your team has decimated its roster and left little hope for contention next season. Those negative emotions can then very easily be transferred to the team itself, culminating in a lack of support towards this next group of Marlins.
But an important part of dealing with this conflict is separating the anger at the ownership from the emotions towards the team and moving forward past the 2012 fiasco. As Conor Dorney mentioned earlier, there are significant positives remaining about this new crop of Marlins. The team has a decent bit of financial flexibility and suddenly a lot of depth in terms of prospects. While it is certainly possible that not all of these players will pan out, the Marlins are now suddenly loaded with talent in the minors who could develop into quality major leaguers. If two or three players in the crop of prospects acquired can develop into contributors, the team will almost certainly be in good shape by 2015.
With that potentially bright future, Marlins fans could have a lot about which to cheer in a few years. But it is important that said Marlins fans not lose sight of the current Marlins crop by looking back at just how poorly the team did in 2012. The negativity surrounding 2012 should not poison the fresh start the team has in 2013. Many of these players have nothing to do with the most disappointing season and year the Marlins have ever had, so none of them deserve the transferred scorn they may receive from a certain subset of (understandably) disgruntled fans. These players, particularly the young ones like Rob Brantly, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Jacob Turner among others, should get our full support when spring training rolls around.
The Marlins put their fans in a tough position this year as they have in many seasons before them. They have sold off pieces en masse before, but it never felt like such a betrayal as it did this season. But for us Marlins fans to remain fans, we need to look forward rather than back at the disastrous 2012 year. This 2013 season promises a lot of losses, but the team still deserves fan support, and true Marlins fans will provide the support, even if it is not from the stands. We should not punish the Marlins' young players for the mistakes of their bosses. Just like in 1998 and 2006, we should move on and look forward to the growth and development of a potentially competitive group.