New year, who this? Better Miami sports teams, we hope. Twenty nineteen wasn't exactly a banner year for Miami sports. From the Dolphins to the Marlins to the Heat to the Canes, the past year will be remembered, if it is remembered at all, as a citywide rebuilding year. All of our local sports teams were in transit, moving from a place of terribleness to a final destination that is yet to be determined.
So, as we enter 2020, let's take a look back and grade each team's progress thus far in their quests to un-suck themselves.
Miami Hurricanes, Grade: F. Yeah, so, it doesn't get much worse than this. The Miami Hurricanes' rebuild went over about as well as installing a stripper pole in a church. The 2019 Canes were worse than the 2018 Canes in just about every way, making this rebuild more of a demolition than anything that resembled a fixer-upper.
Losses to FIU, Duke, and Louisiana Tech capped a 6-7 season that felt like 3-10. Any one of those losses would have seemed unforgivable entering the season, yet somehow the Canes managed to pull off the trifecta and lose them all. Now the team is tasked with replacing players leaving for the NFL early, including DeeJay Dallas; outgoing seniors such as Shaq Quarterman; and the inevitable exodus of players entering the transfer portal to get away from this mess.
Good luck, Manny Diaz. The Canes get a big, fat F for the effort this season.
Miami Dolphins, Grade: C-. The Miami Dolphins' rebuild began kinda like insurance fraud: purposeful damage to the foundation in the hopes of scoring a payout in the future. Two games into the season, the Dolphins were a late-night TV joke. Losses of 59-10 and 43-0 will do that. Starting 0-7 is bad, but the Dolphins made it look purposefully bad. Trading your best athletes and placing players on injured reserve for the slightest toe stub doesn't look good when it's obvious you have a draft pick in mind.
Then, somehow, it all changed. The Dolphins finished the season with a not historically terrible record of 5-11. They have three first-round picks in the draft this year and multiple picks thereafter. They have some players — such as DeVante Parker and Jerome Baker — lined up to lead the way into the future.
Hey, it's not all bad. Sure, it could be better, but it could be worse! It'll all depend upon how the Dolphins use their picks in a few months.
Florida International University, Grade: C+. FIU gets left out far too often when Miami sports are discussed, so we're reserving a space for the football program here because 2019 was one helluva ride for Butch Davis and his players. From the outside, a 6-6 season with a loss in the Camellia Bowl to Arkansas State doesn't seem impressive. But for a team that continues to put itself on the map since Davis took over a dying program three years ago, it's a sign of progress.
As everyone in Miami already knows, for the Panthers, 2019 was all about one thing: upsetting the Hurricanes in a game played at Marlins Park. That was the Panthers' true bowl game, and they crushed it. It's the sort of game that local recruits notice, and it could factor into their choosing FIU over equal out-of-state schools in the future.
Miami Marlins, Grade: B+. The Miami Marlins are in the process of processing. Their rebuild, from what everyone can tell, is going extraordinary well. The Fish have turned what was one of the worst farm systems in baseball into one of the best. They've cleaned up their payroll and rid themselves of players who didn't make sense for the team's future.
Gone are $325 million home-run hitters who were pretty to look at in the highlights. Here is a crop of talented young players that will be under team control for years and set the stage for a franchise that should contend year in and year out. The Marlins seem to be going about their rebuild in a smart, measured manner, which is a complete 180 compared to the old regime that decided to spend as much money as it could on any player willing to join the team while fully knowing those players would be gone before their backloaded contracts kicked in.
The Marlins are set up for the long haul. The rebuild is real.
Miami Heat, Grade: A. The Miami Heat cheated: This wasn't a rebuild, but a full-blown reloading. While Justise Winslow, Derrick Jones Jr., Duncan Robinson, and Bam Adebayo were already here, the addition of Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, and All-Star Jimmy Butler has made it all click and, most important, turned the Heat into one of the NBA's top teams.
If the playoffs began today, the Heat would be a top seed in the East — and not just a playoff team, but one of the best playoff teams. For a squad that was just happy to have Dwyane Wade last season, that's a remarkable thing. The Heat will be set up with friendly contracts and cap-space galore soon enough, but right now, it's already a squad that no other NBA team wants to see on its schedule any given night.
The Miami Heat is the talk of the NBA thus far, making its rebuild a roaring success. One year was all it took.
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