Editor's note: The 2014 season may be a rough one for the Miami Marlins, but Fish Stripes promises to be here for the thick and thin of it all throughout the year. As fans, we live for moments like last night's electric atmosphere in Marlins Park, which is why I would like for the team's fans to stand up and support the franchise however you see fit. Guest author Robby Brumberg has the right rallying cry for Marlins fans in 2014, and I wanted to share it with you. -MJ
I was an enrapt, spellbound 11-year-old when Charlie Hough floated that first ridiculous knuckleball of his to Benito Santiago in April 1993, officially bringing into existence the Florida Marlins baseball franchise. It was unconditional, ferocious love at first sight. None of us could have known how appropriate it would be that such an unpredictable, zany, improbable pitch would open the story of the Marlins. It has of course been a crazy knuckleball of a ride ever since.
Anyone who’s been on board with the Marlins since day one has experienced higher highs and lower lows than perhaps any sports fans in the world. We’ve seen enough center fielders, managers and wacky (desperate) promotions to boost attendance to fill 10 lifetimes. We’ve endured agonizing firesales, persistent relocation rumors, this song, and a plethora of stadium-related embarrassments. Our pain is further magnified every time baseball-smashing cyborg Miguel Cabrera does what he was born (programmed?) to do.
But along the way we’ve also been treated to two of the most spectacular, thrilling playoff rides in baseball history, and had the pleasure of watching many young stars blossom – albeit sometimes briefly.
Honestly, the Marlins have given us a lot to be thankful for in a really short period of time.
Despite winning two World Series within the last 20 years, we Marlins fans are a downtrodden, mysterious, fickle bunch. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been a lousy, fickle fan. Sometime after 2005, long before we became the Miami Marlins, I began to drift.
I’d like to change that in 2014 and get back to supporting this team with passion. Not because we’re going to be great, but because baseball is awesome and the Marlins are my team – through thick and thin, in sickness and in health.
Bigger than Bad Leadership
Marlins fans can be forgiven for keeping our distance from the franchise we loved so well in days past (or at least in 1993, 1997 and 2003). It’s human nature to keep things at a distance that hurt us. Our front office doesn’t exactly inspire loyalty or trust.
But you know what? I’m declaring, here and now, that the Marlins are bigger than bad leadership. Having baseball here in South Florida is so much bigger than personal grievances, perceived betrayals, personal (or personnel) dislikes, or any number of 100-loss seasons.
I’m writing this today to fire myself up and to fire up all those latent Marlins fans who are just waiting for a reason to be reactivated. Who cares about the ownership? Let’s celebrate the fact that we have a local baseball team and support the guys on the field, however many games they win.
A Rally Cry for 2014
In order to fire myself up for 2014, I first think of the past. I think about how much I loved Orestes Destrade, Jeff Conine, Kurt Abbott, Bryan Harvey and Chuckie Carr. I think of the great "El Pulpo," Joe "Commander" Klink, Rich (now ‘Rick’) Renteria and Terry "The Body" Matthews, and about the days when I would’ve gladly taken a bullet for Dontrelle. Don’t get me started on Craig Counsell, Josh Beckett or Gary Sheffield
I think about the great times spent at Joe Robbie, when we would buy Fish Tank tickets for $5 but sit in the right field seats thanks to the "flexible" seating arrangements of the old stadium. I’ll never forget our Marlin pride motivating us to heckle the Reds’ Dmitri Young to the point of him slamming his glove to the turf and challenging us to a fight in the parking lot, as Ken Griffey, Jr. ran over to restrain him. (In Dmitri’s defense, seven straight innings of reminders about not eating chili dogs and nachos in the dugout or outfield would push any man his size to a breaking point)
Over the years, we saw no-hitters, Luis Castillo’s amazing hitting streak, Alex Gonzalez popup innumerable times on 3-1 counts, and built a great rapport with Cliff Floyd, who’d toss a ball into the stands before every inning. We loved Preston Wilson, Alex Fernandez, Devon White, Mike Lowell, Quilvio Veras, Charles Johnson, Dennis Cook, Mike Mordecai, Ryan Dempster, Derrek Lee, Eric Owens, Andy Fox, Pudge, Bob Natal, Mark Kotsay and Al Leiter’s old man grunt. Many of us went through a weird Jim Eisenreich phase.
We have so many great Marlin memories to choose from, but we can’t just rely on the past. We need to embrace the present and the future! Thankfully, there’s plenty to be hopeful about. We just need to rediscover the kind of blind baseball hope that led us to genuinely believe Darrell Whitmore could absolutely become the NL’s next great power hitter, or that Pat Rapp was an emerging ace.
As far as getting on board for 2014, there’s no doubt our squad has holes. But my goodness, Jose Fernandez. May he be surrounded by 1,000 angels every moment of every day. That guy alone is reason to hope, and to care.
So what do you say, Marlin fan? How about we go all in for 2014? The time for all ye Prodigal Marlins sons and daughters to return is nigh!
Let’s make a fresh start, forgive whoever we need to forgive, and have a year of unconditional Marlin love and support. Let’s even dare to hope for great things. All we need to do is find a way into to the playoffs – we know what to do from there!
Whatever happens, let’s go Marlins in 2014.