No, nothing to do with that annoying Seattle fish market lot businesses like to show you training videos of. The real flying fish are the Florida Marlins, battling against the odds and many an experts’ pre-season prediction (as well as non-experts like myself). Their recent four game sweep of the Brewers has made it eight wins on the spin and they head into a series in St Louis two games out of the wild card. Nobody predicted this would happen.
Pouring a cold cup of reality on to proceedings, it has to be said that the Marlins have been helped by the overall mediocre standard in the NL this season. To still be in the wild card hunt without a .500 record (before today’s game they are 64-66) is fortunate to say the least; however that’s no concern of Florida at the moment. And of course, wherever it put them in the standings overall, the Marlins would have gladly taken that record if offered it before the season started. Many doom mongers were predicting one of the worst losing records in Major League history with a dreaded 100 loss season seemingly a foregone conclusion. To say they have been proved wrong would be an understatement.
Still, it’s hard to know how to react to the Marlins this season. It’s great to see a young group of players having a good season, but how do you cheer for a team owned by Jeffrey Loria? The fact that Joe Giradi seems destined to leave the club at the end of the season says it all.
In a system of thirty franchises, quite how a team can be allowed to off-load virtually all of their players during the winter to save money is beyond me. The Fish slashed their payroll from $60 million down to just under $15 million. It’s fair to say that Florida are receiving a lot more in income than $15 million this year from the central pot of money that is distributed to all the organizations, plus the “luxury tax” cash etc. The Marlins may have lost money over the past few years due to poor attendances and such, but that doesn’t make it right. Like many organizations, the Marlins are essentially on the blackmail path, trying to secure public money to build a new stadium. Essentially they are making a mockery out of MLB while wilfully pocketing millions.
What really stands out at the moment is that $15 million can apparently get you near the wild card. The Braves are sitting 2.5 games behind Florida, while spending six times as much for the privilege ($90 million). The Cubs are paying nearly $95 million for a 54-77 record, albeit with important parts of that payroll spending much of the season on the DL. So much for the Commissioner’s claims that small market teams cannot compete.
Well, teams can compete if they cash in on all their good players and can then fill their roster with lots of promising youngsters (on the MLB minimum wage). Rewarding someone for cheating baseball fans is the name of the game. Sadly this seems to be a theme in MLB: don’t spend money, perform badly, and you too can get the top draft picks while cashing in the benefits of revenue sharing.
Doesn’t really fit with the dog-eat-dog world that is America. Sounds a bit more like the “old boys network” of Britain (“Just finished exploiting Montreal have you Jeffrey? Jolly good old boy. Why not have a crack at Florida as well dear fellow? Pip, pip. Trousers down etc!”). Still, I’m not sure why the other old boys are willing to put up with it. Maybe it will be addressed along with the Collective Bargaining Agreement this winter?