Wake me up when Marlins are ready to compete again
You know the drill. “It takes time,’’ Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said.
And they’re building and growing.
“We continue to build, we continue to grow,” he said.
And there’s no time frame on winning.
“I don’t put a time frame on it, because any time you put a time frame on it, it allows your team to accept mediocrity,’’ he said.
Year 2 of the New Marlins, or Next Marlins, or whatever you want to call whoever they are now is about to start, ready or not. And for lovers of symbols, construction equipment kept beeping and hammering in Marlins Park as Jeter answered questions for a few minutes Monday morning on the edge of spring training.
Loud construction, you see, is the theme of another year. And patience, if you have the kind that allows you to watch them reconstruct, brick-by-detailed-brick.
So far the obvious change is to the home run sculpture (gone), the outfield fence (blue, not green), the team logo, uniform colors and (oh, God, not this) Billy The Marlin being put on a Paleo diet and in a trimmed costume.
The running theme is Jeter & Co. want to distance themselves as far as possible from everything about previous owner, Jeffrey Loria. The only thing left would be to take down the 2003 World Series marker high up in left field. Can we get someone on that?
Of course, by this point, no one cares about Loria’s fingerprints being wiped clean as much as when Jeter’s team wins. If it does. Losing like Loria is what Jeter really needs to separate himself from, and no one knows when that will happen.
The Marlins have added 38 players in the past year. Maybe a few of the young players take off this season. Maybe not. The only good part of the Marlins complicated history is having painful points of reference. Year 2 of this rebuild means it’s 1999 all over again.
Mark Kotsay was the future. Bruce Aven was a big hope. And everyone was ready to quit on Derrek Lee for hitting .206. Who knew only Lee would become a franchise cornerstone?
Who knows what any of these 2019 Marlins become, really?
The issue is not many fans will even care until winning makes them care again. Who do you even follow? Even Jeter admitted to sitting back and observing last year rather than getting to know his players. Who knew who would survive?
“Look, I’d love for everything to be fixed overnight,’’ he said. “But there’s a lot of things we need to improve upon in this organization. Repairing our relationship with the community is one of the biggest ones we had to work on.
“I think we’ve made progress in that direction, but we have to continue. Ballpark experience, I wish some of these improvements in place last year. They take time. We’re going to continue to make improvements to this park, continue to make improvements for our overall fan base.”
When you can’t talk about the team, talk about Miami’s Best Pizza being served. And I get it. I’m one of those who understood the path Jeter took.
Anyone who bought the team was trading Giancarlo Stanton’s contract. And, once he was gone, there was no way to win with the worst-rated minor leagues in baseball.
In the long run, it might work out. But Year 2 is the short run. We wait to see if they’re the worst team in baseball or, like last year, achieve enough to be the second worst.
“I would take that like as a slap in the face, if I was a player,’’ Jeter said. “That’s the approach we’ve got to have.”
Patience is the only approach this season. And most fans are out of patience. Jeter’s Marlins will only see them when they get a product worth watching. Jeter is smart enough to understand what he inherited and what is needed now.
“Improvement,’’ he said. “We need to see improvement. We need to see improvement from our younger guys who got an opportunity to play last year. That’s how you get better. We can sit and talk about minor league systems all you want, but it gets to a point when you’re in Miami you have to develop and have to improve year in and year out.”
Until then, enjoy the newer, slimmer Billy The Marlin.
CORAL GABLES When Hurricanes basketball coach Katie Meier signed a contract extension in 2014, she donated $75,000 to Miami’s women’s athletic programs and challenged fans to do what they could to help UM’s female athletes.
Since, countless fans have stepped up and answered the coach’s call, including longtime Golden Cane Society member BJ Abolt, who has pledged a “seven-figure estate gift” that will establish a women’s basketball scholarship endowment, Miami announced on Monday.
The gift commitment is the largest in the history of the women’s basketball program and it will endow a scholarship that will be named in Meier’s honor at Abolt’s request. It follows several significant donations to the program from fellow longtime supporters Warren and Marilyn Bateman.
“For someone to be thinking about their entire life and their legacy, their footprint, and they want to have an impact like that on the University of Miami women’s basketball program is stunning,” Meier said Monday. “I’m at a loss for words. It’s truly stunning.”
Said Abolt, a regular at UM women’s basketball games both at home and on the road, “Katie Meier is the most dynamic person I have ever met. It is a privilege to be a part of a young woman’s scholastic and athletic dreams and an honor to be associated with Coach Meier’s program.”
The announcement of Abolt’s gift comes less than a week after the Hurricanes notched one of their biggest wins not only under Meier, but in program history — Wednesday’s 72-65 upset of defending national champion and then fourthranked Notre Dame.