“Latin America’s Team…”

So, as previously mentioned and perhaps no so widely publicized, the Florida Marlins have taken a bold step to re-brand themselves.  In making themselves ‘Latin America’s Team’ and taking advantage of their new retractable dome stadium (in ‘Little Havana’ no less) the Fightin’ Fish changed their moniker and uniforms to have a more local flair.  The Miami Marlins it is.

The Florida Marlins, the bargain basement two-time World Series Champions (known for their post championship fire-sales) are no more.  Announcing that the roughly $50 million payroll was going to expand, the Ozzie Guillen led Marlins made offers to not only Albert Pujols (with reports ranging from a ‘lowball’ offer to a substantial offer) and Jose Reyes (again, nothing solid reported but supposedly under $100 million) but to pitcher Mark Buehrle as well.  It is also believed the team will make advances to K-Rod in the coming days, just another Latin/Dominican player to be courted.   And to solidify it all, Ozzie has stated that these offers are not just publicity bluster but serious offers.

I like the team’s effort to reach out and court the Latin American community, and perhaps the Latin community as a whole.  In Boston, during the days of Pedro Martinez (and especially during the 2003-2004 seasons where he and Big Papi were teammates) the Latin/Dominican fans were energized and brought a new flavor to not only Fenway Park but to the Boston area and Red Sox Nation as a whole.  With former revered players such as El Tiante, it was made all the more magical.  This could be the Marlins chance to convert many of those Latin fans who flock towards the publicity of teams like the Yankees and Dodgers (who have great Latin followings, especially in the California market) for fans who can latch on to their ‘own’ team and not just a dynasty or logo.

Of course, questions abound.  Will a new stadium really give the recently lackluster Fish such a financial push to be perennial contenders?  Will the re-branding be enough to sway King Albert let alone the vast latin fan base they seek?  Should they start small (Jose Reyes, Aramis Ramirez, K-Rod among others) and build around their youth?  How will MLB’s announcement of a second Wild Card effect their chances in the NL East?

Well, if anything, the new Miami uniforms will add to the revenue.  The Marlins, whose fan base has always been cloaked in invisibility to match the seating at Landshark/Dolphin/Pro Player stadium usually show up for the playoffs in droves so they’ll be buying shirts, caps and jerseys instead of tickets during the regular season.  Now, perhaps unknown to many a baseball fan, the Marlins have retired the jersey #5 (in honor of one of their original front office personnel who died suddenly and his fave player was Joe D’).  In fact, no player has ever worn it.  Would it be re-circulated for Albert Pujols?  Would he settle for a #55 or maybe a #25?

Personally, I’m not impressed.  Maybe it needs to grow on me, maybe they’ll tweak it in the next season or two.  I can easily admit I’m an old school uniform lover and having been born into Red Sox Nation, rivals with the Yankees and having a rich sporting history in Boston, I’ve been spoiled uniform wise.  The Celtics and Sox uniforms have changed little in their respective legendary tenures (apart from a few road variants and alternative jerseys) and aside from the 1995-2006 years, the Bruins have sported the same general look for their black n’ gold heritage (although all of hockey, thankfully, has gone retro in the recent Reebok years).   The Patriots transitioned fairly well from ‘Pat the Patriot’ to their current ‘Elvis’ jerseys even through the brighter Bledsoe years.  The Marlins home jerseys should read ‘Marlins’ across the front, not ‘Miami’.  There’s a touch of retro in there, but it got lost in translation.

But, since the recent trend has shown us ‘what goes around comes around’…. Toronto has gone back to the 1992-1993 glory days and “put the Blue back in Blue Jays” while the Orioles have brought back a touch of the 1970’s in the cartoon bird upon their caps….

…. perhaps Miami’s gate revenue, television ratings and playoff appearances should tell us that in the near future.

In other news:  The Red Sox have contacted current ESPN analyst and former MLB/Japanese manager Bobby Valentine in regards to their managerial opening.  Since Dale Sveum apparently gave the Sox a last chance to hire him before taking the Cub’s job, that tells us that neither Cherington nor the ownership group has seen a candidate they feel comfortable with.   I just can’t understand what has taken them so long to do so.  In my mind, the Boston position is one that, at this point, shouldn’t be handed over to a novice.  You don’t learn to drive on a V-12, 8 gear super-car… and there are names out there… Bobby Valentine, Tony Pena (former KC manager and current ‘Bombers bench coach) or maybe even a Joe Torre.   Let’s not forget, both Joe Torre in 1996 and Terry Francona in 2004 were considered ‘failed’ managers, but obviously being placed in the right organization under the right conditions with a talented roster can change that.  I’m not saying we need a big name like Torre or LaRussa but experience should count for something when guiding a $160 million payroll littered in All-Stars, past & potential MVP/Cy Young candidates (and winners), Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers.  And it needs to be addressed fairly soon.

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