On their way to becoming World Series champions a year ago, the Houston Astros rewarded players after victories with replica wrestling championship belts.
Cameron Maybin witnessed firsthand the way it brought together that clubhouse last fall.
During spring training this past February, seeing a young Marlins’ roster with numerous first-time teammates forming, Maybin began thinking of a way to bring something similar to that clubhouse.
And so Maybin got together with his teammates and put a plan into motion.
Five months later, the Marlins’ “MVP of the game Chain” has made its debut.
Hanging from a gold, Cuban link chain around second baseman Starlin Castro’s neck after Tuesday’s win over the Atlanta Braves was a large charm made of solid gold in the shape of the Marlins’ logo displaying the team’s orange, blue, yellow and white.
Maybin hopes it will have the same inspirational effect on the Marlins as other such “rewards” handed out by other teams in recent years like the Astros.
“I’ve been on teams where you win, you lose and guys just walk in and walk out and go home,” Maybin said. “No, let’s take a second to value this and recognize somebody who was grinding today and helped us get the job done. I got that from guys like Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.
“We sometimes worry too much about individual stats or ‘what did I do?’ I just wanted to take a moment on a young club and go around the locker room for a second and talk about what we had to sacrifice to win as a team.”
The chain weighs roughly 4.25 pounds.
It was made by famed jewelers Rafaello and Co., a group known for fashioning jewelry for numerous celebrities including Jay-Z, Drake and Chris Brown. The company once sold rapper, “Baby,” a $1.5 million watch.
Marlins players wouldn’t say what the price tag was for their chain, but based on its potential value in gold and diamonds, it’s likely it was in excess of $100,000.
Maybin said he has bought jewelry from the New York-based company before. Maybin and team barber Hugo “Juice” Tandron got in touch with them to have it custom-made.
“We wanted to do something more than just the shaving cream [on the face] thing after the game or just give it to the MVP of the game,” infielder Miguel Rojas said. “I think you’ll see it’s someone that we considered in the clubhouse as the inspirational player of the game.”
The chain’s similarity to the University of Miami football team’s “Turnover Chain” set off a frenzy of comments on social media since Tuesday afternoon with many praising it for what it stands for and many criticizing the team for not being original and copying the Hurricanes’ idea.
The Hurricanes didn’t seem to have an issue with it posting a reply to a photo of the chain on their football team’s Twitter account that read: “Much respect! #JDF16”
“That’s how it’s always going to be,” Maybin said. “I love LeBron [James], some people despise him. Some people love Kevin Durant, some people despise him. People are allowed to have their opinions. But what I want them to realize is I’ve always been a huge fan of the University of Miami. But for me this was about, with such a young group that we have, how can I help them create a bigger value of what it takes to win?”
“It’s cool, it looks great, but the purpose is to have a young group appreciate what it takes to win. I just wanted something that was indicative of the city of Miami and represented the Miami culture.”
Written on the back of the charm is an inscription displaying the chain’s deeper meaning to the players: “R.I.P. Jose Fernandez. Forever a Miami Marlin.”
The players wanted to have the chain honor the late Marlins’ pitcher who died in a boating accident in September of 2016.
“There are a lot of guys here that didn’t get to know Jose, so this tells everybody a little bit about how Jose impacted a lot of lives like mine and the joy he brought to the field,” third baseman Martin Prado said. “Every time he pitched it was like he was the MVP every time.”
Although Maybin never played with Fernandez on the same team, he said he respected what Fernandez meant to the organization and the South Florida community and wanted a way to have him remembered even by a new cast of Marlins that never got the chance to know him.
“It’s easy to forget people after a while,” Maybin said. “I just wanted to make sure he’s always a part of what this organization is about. I want it to still feel like he’s here. He was a great thing for baseball and for the guys around the game. I didn’t get a chance to play with Jose, but I admired the passion that he brought to the game.”
Rojas added: “You’ll always have people mad or insulted by it and you’ll have people that find it cool,” Rojas said. “I’m sticking with the positive way to look at it and that it’s a good way to honor our former teammate. I don’t really think we’re trying to copy another Miami team. It’s great that they made something like that and just like them we play for the same state and the same city and we should be more than happy to go with the same things.”