The first Miami Marlins spring training of the Derek Jeter era kicked off last week at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. That much we know happened. Who actually played in the tune-up games for the Marlins is largely a mystery we are still trying to solve. When a team trades the NL MVP, its entire starting outfield, and multiple other known commodities, as the Marlins did this past offseason, we all need a thorough getting-to-know you period.
Outside of familiar returning faces such as Justin Bour and J.T. Realmuto, the Marlins roster is mostly a hodgepodge of journeymen utility players looking for an opportunity to latch on with a big-league club that just needs some warm bodies and prospects to fill out the roster. The question isn't whether the Marlins will lose a lot of games this season; it's whether they will lose a historic, eye-popping, jaw-droppingly embarrassing number of games.
Even the diehard Marlins fans are furious at what has come of the team, and more often than not, Jeter has taken the business end of their anger sticks. Valid or not, it's time for everyone to get over the fact that the Fish are in this position and deal with the process that lies ahead.
Here is why we believe fans should give Jeter a chance to have his vision play out whether they like it or not.
1. Nothing about Jeter's history suggests he'll be cool with losing. No matter how much smoke the old guys who left town blew up your ass, one thing cannot be debated: They were more than happy to lose baseball games as long as they were still making money. What makes anyone think Jeter will be cool with that trade-off?
In 2014, Forbes estimated Jeter was walking away from his playing days having earned more than $400 million. He could have easily made millions more in retirement in a variety of ways. He's beloved in New York. His website, the Players Tribune, has been thriving. He probably could have run for governor. So why would anyone think he came to South Florida looking to score some easy money off his 5 percent ownership stake? It makes zero sense.
Jeter was known as one of the most competitive athletes in the world during his playing days. Anyone who thinks he will be happy with less than championship-level results on the playing field needs to support that argument.
2. The Marlins weren't close to winning before. If you would have been happy watching the Marlins lose 90 games a season under Jeffrey Loria while their outfield hit a bazillion homers in 7-4 losses, I'm sorry this rebuild happened to you. But if you have aspirations of seeing the Marlins win a World Series before you die, the events of the past few months were the only way to get there.
Hearing people say the Marlins "just needed pitching" with their old roster is like the average Miamian saying they just need plastic surgery to look like Ryan Gosling. You're kidding yourself if you think the Marlins were anywhere close to contending. Jeter and company have a plan to build the Fish from the ground up while increasing revenue so they can supplement future stars with free agents and/or trade acquisitions that make sense. The old guys just threw backloaded money at anyone who would take it to make it look like they were trying when we all knew they weren't. It's time to get real with yourself as to what the Marlins have been for the past decade: Losers.
3. The Jeter era gives everyone, including jaded fans, a fresh start. How many South Florida sports fans have watched a full nine innings of a Marlins game in the past three years? Not many. Why? Because of the way Loria and David Samson ripped Miami off for a stadium and built this team made most of us sick. Now? Fans are back in, at least to give this team a shot. This is the perfect opportunity for fans to feel good again about supporting the team.
For the first time in years, fans won't feel like they need a shower when someone gives a Marlins shirt at Christmas. Now they can feel great about watching a franchise build something that isn't predestined to be torn down.
4. Jeter has learned in the best culture in baseball. As South Florida sports fans, we love to brag about the Miami Heat culture. We're proud of it. Dwyane Wade and others go to other teams and realize the difference rather quickly. Derek Jeter is Dwyane Wade. Jeter bringing the best culture in MLB with him. Marlins fans should be excited about that. He knows what success feels and looks like, and he knows how it's created.
Not only that, but also Jeter got a daily lesson in how a franchise can make itself profitable. According to Forbes, the Yankees grew from a $200 million baseball team to a juggernaut worth north of $7 billion today. So if you want the Marlins to be in the market to spend the $500 million it will take to sign the Bryce Harpers of the world in 2027, you better hope the Marlins have people in charge who know how to make money, not just rip off the City of Miami.
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5. What other choice do you have? What's done is done, so you're either in or you're out when it comes to the future of the Marlins. Many people chose to sit out the Jeffrey Loria era. God knows they didn't miss anything. If you want to abandon baseball because you loved Giancarlo Stanton that much, go ahead, but you'll miss out on one of the most interesting rebuilding processes South Florida has ever seen.
Are you going somewhere, or do you have time to see something special play out? If you give a damn about the Miami Marlins in 2018, you've already seen some shit. What's the rush? Give Jeter a chance.