While it’s challenging to find anything positive to say regarding the Giancarlo Stanton incident, at least it signals the end of the annoying prattle in the Miami Hurled and other local media about the team’s “legitimate” shot at a wild card slot. Shaddup, already.
From Day One, the team was a long-shot contender at best. There were too many weaknesses in the line-up, the personnel lacked depth and experience, and too many variables would need to break precisely right to make it likely. The sole factor in their favor was the division’s overall weakness, but even that unlikelihood was erased away when Jose Fernandez was lost for the year, depriving the team of their legitimate young Ace.
None of these real-world concerns negatively impacted the absurd cheerleading all year long, any more than the reality of a sub-.500 record in September shut them up. As late as this week — before the Stanton horrorshow — media goobers were still in their make-pretend Candyland, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, echoing the Marlins’ sales department directives to pump up hope to stimulate attendance.
“It’s not like you’ve ever really had baseball writers down there,” one retired scribe told me recently. “But then again, you never had any genuine fan base, either, for baseball or anything else. The rest of the country looks at Miami as a backwater when it comes to sports — at best a hick college-town kind of market, with whole herds of front-runners and fair-weather fans. They like winners, period. The game is less important than the off-field gossip.
“You’ll find out if the Heat breaks the mold, but I’m betting you’ll see next season it’s more of the same old same old.”
I understand why the players never surrender hope, and I get why ownership stays all smiley-face, but why is the sports press so adverse to analysis? Do they suspect that criticism or negative insights would get them banned from the clubhouse? Do they fear that they’ll lose their limited audience if they come on too tough? Maybe they’re just convinced, not without reason, that their readers (and viewers) simply don’t care enough, and don’t really want anything too chewy and bitter.
Well, they’re safe now. They can all shake their noggins sadly and resort to, “Any chance the Marlins still had to work their way into post-season contention got carried off the field in the stretcher next to Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday.”
Followed by blessed silence.
We’ve had this conversation many times, Squats. It’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma which, given the nature of the business any more, doesn’t admit to a likely fix. South Florida fans don’t have either the patience or sophistication for the kind of serious analysis baseball needs day in day out, in-season and off-, so you get weak-tea writing from the beat guys and what passes for humor from the columnists. It’s expected that the beat writers are homers, even if they don’t quite believe their own optimism, but even so, everybody in the business gets that Floridians are front-runners first and fans last, so by keeping the wild-card fable in play, they keep their audience a bit longer. It’s a sad state of affairs, because baseball inspires some great sports writing, which has never been displayed locally. Never.
And never will. Nobody running the show now or in the foreseeable future will take that chance, and if by luck somebody with genuine passion and talent turns up, he or she will be looking for an opportunity to write for a more focused market, like Chicago, NY, Philly, Boston, etc. It’s the bush leagues year-round down here. Enjoy the sunshine.
The larger, more relevant point is, Nobody in Florida gives a damn about baseball except for the people who relocated here and still root for their home town teams.
Wretched ownership groups haven’t helped matters. In 20 years, how has ownership nurtured home-gown fans, introducing a new generation to baseball? They should have known going into the game what they were up against and had a first-rate marketing and promotion plan, but instead we’ve had one fly-by-night crew after another.
And today they’re lifting their glasses to that fuckwad Papelbon, who handed them a game before fondling his balls.
Crotchgate, highlight of the season.