Loria also gave up too much to hire Guillen when he couldn’t get Bobby Valentine. Will Guillen now become the seventh ex-manager of Loria’s Montreal and Miami reign? Firing Joe Girardi just as he was recognized as Manager of the Year was bizarre. Letting go of the popular Fredi Gonzalez was another head-scratcher. BTW, both of them are taking their teams to the playoffs. Again.
Bell and catcher John Buck were Loria’s picks. Beinfest got excessive input from others in team ops. The Marlins are suffering from crowded kitchen syndrome. Too many cooks ruin the soup.
This season was going to be different, massively different. No more excuses about steam-bath weather and a ripoff lease at a football stadium. With a sweetheart ballpark deal, an injection of free agent talent and a $101-million payroll, the Marlins were primed to contend in their hip, tropical, artsy Miami home. They were going to ding that wacky, tacky home run sculpture in center field until the mechanical marlins were too pooped to leap.
Things went wrong from the start. Opening Day festivities were awkward and ill-conceived. Loria’s decision to parade the feeble Muhammad Ali around the field in a golf cart proved to be one of many bad ones.
Then Guillen’s gaffe: Expressing admiration for Fidel Castro. In Little Havana. When in North Korea, you don’t make fun of the dear departed dictator’s bouffant hairdo.
The City of Miami made ham-handed attempts to recruit upscale restaurants and retail to its parking garage storefronts in a neighborhood where such businesses made no sense. They remain empty.
Hindsight is 20-20. There was reason to believe that Mark Buerhle and Bell would perform better, that Johnson would be a true ace, that Ramirez would grow up, that Buck, Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison would produce.
Instead, the Marlins didn’t merely disappoint, they exasperated their fans and themselves. The season became the worst-case scenario. And the Marlins continued their odd 20-year history of two World Series highs and many lows.
What next? Another interesting offseason. Beinfest has to fix this mess. The gonzo Guillen deserves another chance. Loria needs to stick to dealing in art, not athletes. And Marlins fans, take heart. It’s another stifling September, your team is irrelevant. But the air conditioning is working.