This isn't how I wanted to start my career as an official FishStripes writer. Honest. I wanted to write something hopeful and happy. I wanted to at least try and be funny and maybe even a bit jubilant.
However - I have to admit that our beloved Fish have taken just about every bit of joy out of baseball for me right now. I doubt I have to explain why to this crowd - you've all been paying attention for the last few weeks. It has been absolutely pitiful.
I have no other teams that I really root for and while I know I will miss baseball when it is gone, I can't even bring myself to get excited about the post-season, since the only team I care about in the slightest (our adopted Pads) doesn't look to have much of a chance. Maybe that's just my good old Marlins' pessimism coming out, and maybe they'll prove me wrong. I certainly hope so.
The immediate future of the Marlins also looks fairly grim. They stand to lose a good few chunks of the team to free agency and possible trades, and let's not even get into the stadium issues, please!
All that being said, I want to speechify a bit -
I am still very grateful to be a fan of this team. They have given me great joy over the years, and not just in the championship years. Hell - these last couple of months were some of the worst of my life, and the Marlins really gave me something to keep interested in, be hopeful for and even gave me a bunch of new friends! I am not forgetting that.
Heading into this off-season, I also need keep one other thing in mind. Very often watching the younger players struggle and come into their own, in the long run, can be more rewarding than competing year in and year out. I know the growing pains can be tough to take, but the end results can be beautiful. I certainly felt a lot better about the 2003 title since so many of the key cogs had been with the team for so long and came up through the system, etc. It felt more real to me since I had been watching Castillo, Gonzalez, Lee, Penny, Burnett and everyone else lose horribly for a few years and had grown with them. I don't know if anyone else feels the same way, but it sure would be nice to be able to get that kind of attachment again, even if it means losing for a while again.
This team as it is seems to have out-grown itself, with all the in-fighting and bitterness. I personally don't have a problem if they have to start over again with some younger talented players as long as they really give them a fair chance and let them play.
And, hell... if you had to build a team around two young guys - could you pick any two better than Willis and Cabrera?
Didn't think so. Maybe the future isn't so bleak after all.