The Miami Marlins have played 13 games so far this season and have lost 11 of them. The last one, a 10-3 drudging by the Washington Nationals, may have been the worst one yet. In times like these, it does not take much to figure out that the 2013 Marlins may not get a whole lot better than that. Yes, I predicted the Marlins would win 70 games, and it is a perfectly reasonable guess if the team plays up to its (mediocre) potential. But as Conor Dorney pointed out earlier today, the Marlins' are already under-performing their mediocre projections and helping to make a dismal season more dismal at the start.
One glance at the Marlins and it is easy to see why fans would be disgruntled and not show up to games. Fans are not happy watching a losing product, and that is the kind of product this team will produce for most of 2013. While the Marlins may not be this bad, they are bad, and that is going to be difficult to hide.
So what are Marlins fans to do? Heck, what are the Marlins themselves supposed to do in the face of perhaps one of the worst seasons in team history? Well, here at Fish Stripes, we adopted a motto last season that helped get through the day-to-day difficulties of watching a losing team: #minorvictories. I was reminded of this when Jared Book of Federal Baseball asked me this question in our Washington Nationals series preview.
With low expectations meaning wins and losses don't mean too much do fans tend to look at the individual positives despite the team's losses?
This is a perfect question to use to elucidate the idea behind #minorvictories. Marlins fans cannot focus on the wins and losses in a season like this. Going into the season, everyone knew it was going to be a difficult season with a lot of losses. It is a heavy burden to bear, and it weighs down on you fanhood. Each loss piles on top of the next, and all you see is a drowning Marlins team that, night in and night out, fails to compete with other clubs in Major League Baseball.
In other words, looking at the individual wins and losses is too depressing and negative to be done. And knowing that those losses are going to pile up makes the Marlins' season appear meaningless, and it is a good incentive to simply turn off the television and abandon the team for a while.
But here at Fish Stripes, we try to be positive about everything we do, even when the organization is piling on the negatives. And thus was born the concept of #minorvictories: the idea that, in losing times like these, we should focus on the small positives and build them up rather than look to the awful negatives. Throughout the offseason, we have focused on the positives that are not likely to add up to a winning campaign but may still impact the Marlins this year and in future years. Our 2013 keys to success were not players who were going to put the Marlins over the top, but rather players whose development was going to be important for future Marlins competitive teams. We focused on Giancarlo Stanton and his (soon-to-be) excellent 2013 season, including the odds of him winning the home run race.
None of these factors will ultimately make a difference in the aggregate for 2013. Whether Henderson Alvarez develops a consistent second pitch is not going to make or break a season. But if he does and posts a 3.75 ERA, I am going to celebrate it as important, even if it makes little difference this season. If Stanton wins the 2013 home run race despite his ugly start thus far, why should Marlins fans not revere the accomplishment? Why not keep the mood light with these small victories instead of wallowing in the various defeats of this season?
And as we have always mentioned on Fish Stripes, these #minorvictories do add up. Maybe they do not add up to much in 2013, but every #minorvictory does matter. Stanton winning the home run race can only serve to underscore the importance of his presence on the team, and it may urge the Marlins to work harder on an extension or a properly valued trade. The development of any number of those five keys to success could herald the makings of a supporting cast to help the next competitive Marlins core. Even smaller things like remaining competitive in a game against a difficult division rival could give the Marlins' players some much-needed confidence regardless of the result. And in the future, these tiny wins can help to add to a future squad, whether it be by confidence or a bump in performance.
Is it important to view the Marlins in this fashion? No, how you view the Fish in a lost 2013 season is ultimately your choice. If you choose to harp on the negatives, it will be your fanhood that gets dragged down like the Fish are being pulled to the bottom of the standings. But looking at the positives can help to maintain a brighter outlook, and that might help you to sustain your ability to support this team and these players, none of whom are to blame for the happenings of this recent offseason.
This does not mean that you cannot view the negatives for what they are, however. Fish Stripes is well aware of what will happen to the Marlins this season and what challenges they face in the seasons ahead. But the #minorvictories are real, and the Fish could really use the support of the fans by recognizing these small advantages when they do come up. These advantages are certain to help the players, and recognizing them will certainly help your view as a fan.