"Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana
I've always been a fascinated by history. Not just for the dramatic events that occurred, but for the clarity it can lend activity happening in the present. Viewing today through a historical lens can, oftentimes, help you predict what is going to take place. Much like a sabermetrician might look at the numbers involved in past performance to determine future outcomes, a historian might connect the dots from past events to give us a broader sense of how we got to this point that we're at today, and where we might be going in the future because of it.
Unlike sabermetrics, which can be exacting in it's valuation of players and performance, not all of history is so readily parsed for genuinely helpful knowledge of the present.
It can still, nevertheless, be interesting and therefore worth knowing.
For example, we know that the Marlins, by virtue of yesterday's 5-4 victory over the Giants, stand at 6-11 thus far in April. 6-11 gives the Marlins the second worst record in the National League, besting only the Atlanta Braves, who (you may recall) swept the Marlins at home last week.
Maybe you feel like this is just a bit of bad luck, and a quick turnaround is in order. History, unfortunately, is not on your side.
Maybe you've been experiencing a little déjà vu instead, knowing that you've seen this kind of performance from the Marlins in April before:
2016: On April 24th, the Marlins beat the Giants 5-4 to bring their record to 6-11.
2015: On April 24th, the Marlins beat the Nationals 3-2 to bring their record to 6-11.
2014: On April 16th, having started the season a week earlier during the 2014 season, the Marlins fell to 6-10, losing 6-3 to the Nationals.
2013: On April 19th, the Marlins beat the Reds 2-1 to get just their 4th win of the season up to that point (4-13). They would lose 100 games this year.
2012: On April 25th, the Marlins lost to the Mets 5-1, dropping their record to 7-10.
There can be only one conclusion drawn from this information: The Miami Marlins suck in April.
Note the highlighted word, for the last time the Marlins didn't stink in April, they were the Florida Marlins. In 2011, the Marlins were 11-6 after their 17th game of the season and ended April with a record of 16-9. Things didn't turn out so hot for that team as they ultimately lost 90 games and churned through a couple of managers, but they did start out strong, you've got to at least give them that.
Sticking with the initial idea that history can be used to connect the dots from past to present, what are the common denominators from then until now?
The aforementioned name change from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins was supposed to signal a new era in South Florida sports, and it did, just not in the way Loria and company had intended. Though many Marlins fans continue to pine for the black and teal, it would be a bit far fetched to lay the blame of April's doldrums at the orange feet of the Miami Marlins name.
Jeff Loria/Michael Hill/various underlings
Loria and Hill and a variety of others in the front office were around when this string of bad Aprils started, and it was Loria's idea to shuffle the franchise's identity around, but could they be held responsible for a poor April record? No, they can't, because that's what managers are there for, to take the fall when things go south. And take the fall they have.
Ah, now we're getting a little closer. Cavernous Marlins Park, which opened in 2012, is colorful and full of interesting sights and delicious food, but it's not been much of a home field advantage. The moved in fences did play a part in a Giancarlo Stanton home run but otherwise have not provided the home squad with any significant boost in their April fortunes.
If you're going to blame the park though, don't you have to acknowledge that visiting teams also have to play here, and they don't seem to struggle as much as the Marlins do in April.
Giancarlo Stanton/Tom Koehler/Mike Dunn/A.J. Ramos
These four are the only players left from the infamous 2012 squad. One would probably acknowledge that the players themselves are most responsible for the results on the field and thus it would make sense to tie the April win/loss record to these guys; however, they didn't man the entire diamond by themselves for five seasons and they've had a lot of different teammates in that span, making it difficult to pin down an unwavering thread from April's past.
All joking aside, this appears to be one of those cases where the history in question is just an unfortunate happenstance. One may argue that poor roster construction leads to these kinds of bad starts to a season; I think that arguement can be made, but it wont be made by me. I just wanted to point out the interesting coincidences.
One more interesting coincidence: The Miami Marlins have never ended an April above .500 (going 8-14, 8-19, 13-14 and 10-12 from 2012 to 2015, respectively).
Let's hope, for all of our sakes, that history is not predictive in this case, and that yesterday's victory was the start of an unprecedented Miami Marlins turnaround in April. They have six games to get it done.