That first run of years, in the wake of the 1997 World Series team sell-off, began with the 1998 Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa/record Yankees season that brought baseball almost a full recovery from killing the 1994 World Series.
The Marlins couldn’t drink of that elixir.
Two stretches of playing it cheap while hustling for a new home held the line on Marlins fans.
How do you maintain a love for a team that doesn’t seem to care about repaying your love by making you happy with wins?
At some point, even kids shake their heads and say, “Can’t hang with you.”
And, now, whether they have abused fan trust again, it feels like it.
How many years for this stunting of growth?
Cats can’t be embraced
The Panthers did theirs through sheer ineptitude — bad drafts and bad trades, leading to an NHL-record 10 consecutive seasons out of the playoffs.
Ice rinks were built, expanded. Travel teams win tournaments around North America.
High schools added hockey.
Some kids and adults who didn’t play learned the rules and NHL stars via video games.
Yet the Panthers repeatedly stumbled away from that generation’s embrace.
Now, the NHL and NHL players’ association are doing the stumbling for them.
Only two franchises in our so-called major leagues, the Chicago Cubs and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, can have extended runs of abysmal play without hurting attendance or local status.
Everyone else is three to six losing seasons from humility.
The Marlins and Panthers are well past that, just as they should be well past being South Florida sports problem children.
This failure to launch stuff is tired.