The Miami Heat are the Top-Shottas of the NBA universe and bring red carpet-stability to southern Florida’s fluctuating pro sports enthusiasm.
In case you were wondering, the Miami Marlins still field an MLB team. But nobody really cares about a last place team with their only feared slugger—outfielder Giancarlo Stanton—on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.
The franchises exist on opposite planes like distant brothers, reflecting a sad tale of fortune and misfortune for two squads within one city.
On 601 Biscayne Boulevard, there’s this popping American Airlines Arena. Celebrities and cultural tastemakers go to see the baddest man in kicks on a court, and his all-world stick man, treat NBA foes with the ultimate ratchedness. Sixty-win seasons are filled with highlight reels, MVPs and all-stars at multiple positions. The nights are like movie premieres with 20,000 phone cameras in constant motion.
On 501 Marlin’s Way sits this magnificent castle called Marlin’s Park, that cost over $600 million dollars to construct—$91 million of which came from taxpayers. The cavernous, 37,000 seat masterpiece is really just a beautiful shell, barley filling a third of its capacity nightly.
The Marlins are 7-19 and already 9.5 games out of first place, showing little talent, enthusiasm or hope for the near future.
The Marlins are the brother who fell out of favor with the family through rash judgments, poor leadership, and overall mismanagement. His only recourse was to do something drastic to reverse his fate.
Jeffrey Loria’s team hasn’t been able to sniff a Miami Herald front page since “The Big Three” stormed MIA, so he decided to go all-out and buy himself some Miami love.
Last season Loria dug deep in his stash, and crossed the $100 million payroll threshold for the first time in team history. The Marlins brought in signature names like shortstop Jose Reyes and pitcher Heath Bell. They hired an unpredictable, boisterous coach in Ozzie Guillen to lead them to their first WS since ’03. Guillen wound up alienating Miami’s cherished Cuban fan base, and getting axed, after stumbling to a 69-93 record and last place NL East finish.
Meanwhile, the Heat won their first championship of the “Big Three” era, became the biggest names in the city’s burgeoning entertainment culture and are favored to repeat.
This off-season, Loria scrapped the penny-for-your-support philosophy, did a 360-degree financial flip, gutted the squad and cut the payroll by $73 million.
Not only does Forbes rank the Marlins 26th out of 30 teams in terms of franchise value, but according to a recent espn.go.com article, over the past 10 years, no team that has opened a new ballpark has had a lower percentage of seats filled in its second season.
Loria admits he messed up, but he’s still doing it and he isn’t begging for forgiveness.
”We didn’t break up the 1927 Yankees. We broke up a losing ballclub that was going nowhere,” Loria said in a ‘13 marlinsnation.com article. “I have a sense of [the public anger]. I’m sorry we built this amazing ballpark and fans are feeling the way they do. But we did this for a reason. We weren’t going anywhere … we had to do something swiftly, quickly and bold.”
So while Miami Heat fans are dancing in the street, scalping playoff tickets at historical prices and seen at every hot-spot in town, the Marlins are struggling for an invite to a family funeral. It’s like they’re not even from the same city.