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Same Fish (Kind Of), New Stripes

Hello Fish Stripers! For those of you who do not know me, my name is Michael Jong, and I will be taking over as the new lead blogger and Manager here at Fish Stripes. I am not without credentials when it comes to blogging in general and specifically about the (soon-to-be) Miami Marlins. Some of you may have read my work for FanSided's Marlin Maniac blog. With the help of the network, I was able to start that blog more than two years ago and have been blogging daily for that site since then. I would like to think that it has been the home for sabermetrics-slanted Marlins analysis since 2009.

Today, I embark on a new endeavor, which is to captain the ship that is Fish Stripes for SB Nation as its new Manager. Ultimately, there may not be a better place to reach Marlins fans than via Fish Stripes; under the management of the irreplaceable Craig, Fish Stripes has become the most well-known and recognized Marlins blog on the internet. My role here will mimic his, but let it be known that I am not Craig and that the ship that I will be running is going to be a bit different than the ship he ran for the last six years. What I can promise is that, if you stick along for the ride (and I hope you do), it will be entertaining, sometimes enlightening, and more than worth your while.

Why can I say that? Well, simply put, to be a Marlins blogger, it takes true Marlins fanhood; who would stick around with a team as dysfunctional as this one without true love for it? So before I get into what you might expect to see here at the new Fish Stripes, I would like to tell you the old news and happenings that led me to becoming a Marlins fan and later on a Marlins blogger.

A Little Bit of History

My journey as a Marlins began in 1996. At the time, I was living in south Florida (Weston, for all of your folks familiar with the territory) and had just moved here not four years prior. I was at this point just a simple-minded nine-year old kid who occasionally caught a Marlins game on local television. I had made it a habit to get into all of the local teams, but the Marlins and baseball had intrigued me the most that season. The team finished close to .500 in 1996 and I expected a fun 1997 season. What I received was a World Series victory, a number of memorable moments, and my first taste of ecstatic fanhood.

I think back and wonder what might have happened if I had never latched onto the team at a young age due to that World Series victory. As fellow veterans of the post-championship fire sale clearly recall, the next few seasons were difficult to swallow. I can still remember such atrocities as Bruce Aven being one of our better hitters in 1999 and Mike Piazza being in a Marlins jersey for ten days. True fans of the team stuck through with the club to begin seeing the seeds of a contender grow in 2000 and beyond. Of course, that culminated in another World Series championship in 2003, which to this day is the season I most vividly remember. That team, flawed as it may have been, is one of the three teams that will forever remain embedded in my mind as a fan.

From 1997 to 2007, I stuck with the team through two championships and two fire sales. I saw the club blow Wild Card possibilities en route to disappointing finishes. I saw the 2006 team, perhaps my favorite team of them all, come back from 20 games under .500 to be within striking distance of the playoffs in September. I remember losing touch in 2007, only to return in 2008 and 2009. This time, I was armed with the knowledge of sabermetrics and a renewed, reinvigorated interest in baseball as a result. In 2009, I began my blog and have been an active member of the Marlins online community since.

The New Fish Stripes

This leads me to my future here at Fish Stripes. As I said, I am not Craig and there are things that I will do differently on this blog. I will let you know from the beginning that this blog will be using sabermetrics as its foundation for analysis; this is perhaps the most significant change in the new Fish Stripes. This does not mean that the community will now morph into a collective unit of robots spewing numbers. Sabermetrics is not just about numbers, but rather about logic and rationality. As an example, here is what the community guidelines on DRaysBay say:

1. We like logic. We're not a "numbers-first" site -- we're a facts and logic site. You don't have to understand advanced stats to understand logic and to make a rational argument. We encourage debate and discussion, since there is rarely only one "correct" side to a debate, but you'd better be ready to argue with facts and not your gut.

Again, the goal here is to not make a "numbers-first" site, but rather one that is logic-first. You can discuss anything, but you need to have the evidence to back it up, and that is all that we can expect from the authors on the site and the community as a whole.

Having said that, my voice is primarily based on numbers. I am not a former baseball player at any competitive level (Little League does not count, right?), and I certainly could not tell you the right way to field a grounder or swing a bat. What I can tell you is that with the history of the (right) observations on your side, you can usually tell the bad from the good, with the necessary shades of grey in between. Some of you may like this change and some of you may not. What I encourage is not that you stay on either side of the fence, but that both sides come towards the middle and foster lively, healthy discussion and debate. Ultimately, all I want from the Fish Stripes and greater Marlins community is that we can work together towards a common goal of better understanding about the team and baseball. It is never unhealthy to ask questions and learn more about any topic, and the Marlins are no different in that respect. And of course, along the path to better understanding, we should have a lot of fun rooting for our favorite team.

That was what covers the analysis portion of the program, for which I will be primarily responsible. However, this blog would not be a brand new one without some feature performances of additional authors, and later today we will get to the roles that my fellow members of the Fish Stripes crew will be filling on the site. Rest assured, aside from the analysis and news that you will receive here at Fish Stripes on a daily basis, there will be weekly content from each of the four other authors introduced later today, and that content will span all walks of Marlins fanhood. I think each author will bring a tremendous addition to the site's range and appeal, and I am sure that you readers will be really excited to read what we have in store for you on a weekly basis.

For now, that is my introduction to my past as a Marlins fan and blogger and my future as, well, a Marlins fan and blogger. I hope that all of the Fish Stripes regulars and countless other new readers come aboard and embark on this new journey with us. As the Marlins change in 2012, so will Fish Stripes, but unlike oddly colored hat logos, we expect to get off on the right, properly-colored (teal and black!) foot.