The new look Miami Marlins may have two World Series Championships over their 20-year history, but they’ve generally been known for being a joke of a franchise.Both World Series titles were followed by fire sales that made it even harder for an apathetic fanbase to get excited about the team.
With a new stadium acting as a giant revenue stream and high profile free agent acquisitions, ownership hopes 2012 will be the beginning of long term playoff contention for the Marlins.
The Florida Marlins entered the league as one of two expansion teams along with the Colorado Rockies in 1993
Despite the presence of future stars like Gary Sheffield and Robb Nen the expansion Florida Marlins endured four losing seasons when they entered the league.
An 80-82 record in 1996 did begin to show some promise, though.
1997 was a magical year as the Marlins' surprise wild card run ended in a seven-game World Series win over the Cleveland Indians
Ownership wanted to sell the team and cost-cutting was their first order of business, so the $53 million payroll had to be slashed (it was only half as much in 1996).
These are some of the more prominent players who were traded away:
- Left fielder Moises Alou to the Houston Astros
- Starting pitchers Kevin Brown and Al Leiter to the San Diego Padres and New York Mets, respectively
- Closer Rob Nenn to the San Francisco Giants
- Right fielder Gary Sheffield, catcher Charles Johnson, and third-baseman Bobby Bonilla to the Los Angeles Dodgers
Awful attendance and all, the Marlins actually began to get better after the 1998 debacle.
Minor league prospects acquired during the post-World Series trades and top draft picks from the constant losing brought a lot of talent to Miami.
The team hovered around .500 between 2000-2002 thanks to guys like Derrek Lee, Luis Castillo, and Josh Beckett.
Even with a tiny payroll, Marlins management thought they had a playoff team in 2003 so they fired their manager after a poor start
72-year-old Jack McKeon (pictured) stepped in as the saviour going 75-49 the rest of the way and leading the Marlins to a wild card playoff berth.
Florida's young stars, key veterans, and new no nonsense manager propelled them to a second championship in 2003
The Marlins beat the New York Yankees in six games in what was billed as a clash of two extremes: the lofty, big market, free-spending Yankees versus the bottom-rung, cheap Marlins.
Despite two World Series titles in seven years, attendance was still awful in Miami so the cost-cutting began once again
Compared to the post-1997 teams, the Marlins weren't as bad in the years after their second championship.
It still wasn't enough to make the postseason a single time between 2004 and 2011, however.
Ownership kept crying poverty over not being able to secure funding for their own downtown Miami stadium.
Likewise, a bunch of young stars came through the Marlins' system only to be sent packing as soon as they became too pricey, i.e. Josh Beckett and Miguel Cabrera.
After years of fighting with local politicians and threatening to leave the city, the Marlins were approved for a new stadium in 2009. But it wasn't without controversy
The Florida Marlins were to be renamed the 'Miami Marlins' and play in a new ballpark under construction near the old Orange Bowl.
The $634 million stadium was set to open in 2012 with the vast majority of the funding coming from Miami-Dade County tax payers.
With the stadium already well under construction, Deadspin obtained documents showing that owner Jeffrey Loria's claim that the Marlins were broke and couldn't afford to pay for more of the stadium were false.
It turned out Loria and his cohorts were simply pocketing all of MLB's revenue sharing money and fudged their finances so they didn't have to contribute much to the new ballpark.
With a shiny new ballpark on the way the re-branded Miami Marlins started spending like the Yankees and Red Sox
The Marlins made the fiery Ozzie Guillen their manager, and gave giant deals to top-notch free agents Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle.
The biggest news regarding Miami's free-spending ways was probably who they almost signed: Albert Pujols.
During baseball's 2011 winter meetings it appeared for a day or so as if they would land the biggest fish of the offseason before the Los Angeles Angels swooped in at the last minute.
It was a grandiose and awesomely tacky event befitting of the city of Miami, but unfortunately the Marlins lost to the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals 4-1.
Miami hopes the cozy stadium (only seats about 37,000), with a retractable roof to avoid all those rain delays from years past will continue to sell out through the summer.
And more importantly: put money in the team's coffers so there won't be yet another fire sale.
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