Nine Things I Learned from the 2012 Miami Marlins


In sports as in cinema, even the worst debacles can be portals of discovery.  For example, the epically awful 1996 summer blockbuster Twister taught us the following notable lessons: Tornadoes can sneak-up on drive in movie theaters without warning, wind or sound, and one can survive a tornado (and avoid the massive amounts of flying debris which accompany it) by tying oneself to a metal bar and hanging-on as the tornado passes directly through one’s location.

The 2012 Miami Marlins were the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie: colossal hype, all style, no substance, and irrelevant by the end of August.  The Marlins began 2012 with a new stadium, new uniforms and logo, a new manager, a boosted payroll that eclipsed $100 million, and the expectation that the club would contend for the N.L. East Division crown.  Unfortunately, everything went wrong and the Marlins are limping to a last place finish with a 67-92 record.

Despite these colossal failures, there are nine things I learned from the 2012 Miami Marlins:

1.  When re-launching your team’s logo and colour scheme, draw your inspiration from the wardrobe department of Scarface.  It also helps if you choose colours which have absolutely no connection to your team name.  Nothing says “the Fish” better than red, orange and yellow.

2.  When deciding whether or not to spend $54 million on an overrated, 33 year-old pitcher like Mark Buerhle, focus on meaningless statistics like career win-loss record (174-132) and ignore real stats like career ERA (3.83), WHIP (1.28) and K/9 (5.1).

3.  A fire sale can be a fun way to rekindle some nostalgia amongst your fans!  When the Fish traded their franchise third baseman (Hanley Ramirez) and four other players in a $33 million salary dump this summer, it brought back warm memories of ye old Marlins’ fire sales of 1998 and 2005.  The Marlins don’t have many traditions, but I’m glad to see that this one is still alive.

4.  Deceitful art dealers who own baseball clubs are excellent interior decorators of new baseball stadiums.  And if you think that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria made a mistake using putrid green as the main colour for the interior of Marlins Park, you don’t appreciate the contemporary appeal of Spanish colour palettes.

5.  In a struggling baseball market, the manager should employ the “any publicity is good publicity” strategy to win over a disinterested fan base.  How else can one justify the behaviour of Ozzie Guillen, who had the following adventures in 2012: suspended five games for publicly praising Fidel Castro when Miami’s new stadium is built in “Little Havana” district and when many of Miami’s residents are Cuban refugees, compared Marlins rookie players to adult film stars, used profane tweets to defend his ball club to a reporter, publicly feuded with closer Heath Bell, and challenged/dared owner Jeffrey Loria not to fire him at the end of the season.

6.  Give grossly overpaid, massively under-achieving veterans as much playing time as possible, even in the midst of a lost season.  First baseman Carlos Lee, with his $18.5 million salary, 9 homeruns and .654 OPS deserves to start 140-plus games; First baseman Mike Cervenak, with his minor league contract and .912 OPS in Triple-A in 2012 doesn’t even deserve a call-up!  And why shouldn’t catcher John Buck ($6 million per year), with his .197 Avg. and 0.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) receive over 100 starts behind the plate?

7.  Never retire the seat-covering tarp used in your ball club’s old, frequently empty ballpark.  The tarp can easily be used to cover the much nicer empty seats in your team’s brand new ballpark.  Said tarp is essential when playing in a baseball-crazy city like Miami, where shiny new Marlins Park sold out a total of one time (the home opener) all season and drew the 12th highest attendance in the National League.

8.  When team management is conducting your club’s annual fire sale before the trade deadline, be sure to retain the 34 year-old closer with an ERA above 5.00 and $18 million remaining on his two-year contract.  Relief pitchers like Heath Bell are hard to come by.

9.  Insult local taxpayers, residents and government officials only AFTER the local government agrees to finance most of the cost of your team’s new stadium.  This one is kind of a no-brainer.  Marlins President David Samson actually had the good sense to wait until the new park was constructed before he questioned the intelligence of the government and people of Miami and Miami-Dade County, who chipped in 75% ($508 million) of the construction money for Marlins Park.

What did you learn from the Miami Marlins in 2012?

Follow me on Twitter:  @MaxWarnerMLB


  1. By the way, K/9 is an irrelevant stat. WAR is debatable since there is at least 2 versions of it. The stat geek that never played the game is very revealing.

    Oops…another blunder.

    • K/9 is absolutely a relevant stat.

      A pitcher with Strikeout ability can get himself out of jams, that pitchers who rely on groundballs or flyballs to get outs quite simply can not.

      Of course you missed the point of the entire article, which was all written tongue in cheek… but you keep taking it like a serious piece.

      • John Buck’s WAR is not a relevant stat because it depicts him as having minimal value to his team. Clearly, John Buck has tremendous value to the Marlins and has been instrumental in helping them win 67 games this year. John Buck is one of the most valuable players on the Marlins if you ignore his WAR.

        • I notice how you changed you corrected your article after you deleted me pointing out that you made a goof in your information about the Fire Sale stuff. I can understand you correcting it, but deleting my post that points it out is juvenile.

        • Further with WAR. Did you know that WAR is a man-made mathematical equation (like all advanced stats) that THEORETICALLY believes that it can determine a players value/worth. No truly knowledgeable advocate of it, or any of the advanced stats, use it as a factual or accurate measuring tool. They always refer to it in THEORY, not facts. Only the dimwits who don’t know what it is to play baseball and don’t know the root of advanced stats or advanced mathematics, are the ones that use advanced stats like their are factual, bible-like material. They are good for video game manuals or to know for fantasy baseball which are stats-based and driven. They are just clerical material when it comes to real baseball.

          • Yes, which is why EVERY major league baseball franchise is now using advanced stats in evaluating players and making trades.

            Is that all they do? Of course not, there is still room for “eyeball scouting”, but based on the success of Moneyball, and the teams that have copied the approach, every team in baseball knows about OPS, K/9, WAR, and other such stats of their ball players.

            You may think it is irrelevant, but the GMs of these teams are using the statistics to augment their analysis.

            But perhaps you can enlighten us, was John Buck good enough to be given nearly 400 At Bats this season? What part of his production indicated he should have got so many starts, and so many opportunities? Was it the 29 runs he scored… or the 66 hits…. or the 12 home runs… the 0.192 Batting Average, the 7 errors and 7 past balls… throwing out 27% of those who tried to steal? What was it that was so outstanding that we overlook the terrible offensive statistics he put up and kept trotting him out to play as the starting catcher?

          • So r u saying WAR is not a good way to determine overall value of a player? Cause it is. Yes it’s not be all end all, but it is very valuable stat. Buck sucked this year, plain and simple, and writer mentioned his avg. in addition to his WAR.

      • Ok, if it was tongue-in-cheek, why did the writer change the information that was incorrect that I pointed out and then delete my post in which I pointed out his blunder?

        Seems like moves that would be done for an article that he’s trying to be serious about. What’s better for a tongue-in-cheek article than a poster pointing out that part of the information in it is incorrect?

      • Oh, and K/9 is not relevant because there are too many things that can be dissected about it. Also, there is the old concept that “an out is an out”.

        One thing you fail to mention is that Strikeout pitchers tend to go less innings than their “pitch-to-contact” counterparts. You also fail to mention that they also have less career longevity when that is their primary way of getting out of jams. “Pitch-to-contact” pitchers have always been better for innings totals and for more career longevity.

        Oh, and by the way, the majority of strikeout pitchers will become “pitch-to-contact” pitchers when they get older in order to prolong their careers. You fail to mention that too. Or maybe you don’t even know this because most stat geeks I come across only know stats. They don’t know the on-the-field game or in-game stuff.

        Shall I go on?

        • Crazy. Guy cited Buerhle’s ERA and WHIP which are mediocre but u rail on K/9? Point is Buerhle is a mediocre pitcher who cant strike anyone out. Guy never said Buerhle sucks just b/c of K/9, he cited two other meaningful stats, but u expect an essay on career arc of contact pitchers? Get real dude and put your Marlins jersey away.

    • Probably buying his new Jeff Mathis Marlins jersey. The bigger question you have to ask is whether today’s trade is a continuance of this summer’s Marlins’ fire sale, or whether it constitutes a new fire sale unto itself.


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