Five Keys to Help Marlins Replicate World Baseball Classic Magic

Marlins player Jazz Chisholm signs for a group of fans prior to a game on April 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida.
Marlins player Jazz Chisholm signs for a group of fans prior to a game on April 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Kelly Gavin/Getty
Japan's 3-2 victory over the United States in Tuesday night's World Baseball Classic finale at loanDepot Park in Miami marked the conclusion of an international sporting spectacle. Tens of thousands of fans flocked to Little Havana for the WBC, providing a glimpse of just how raucous the Marlins' home park can get when the product on the field is rife with world-class energy.

Unfortunately, as proven time and time again in Miami, creating an atmosphere anywhere close to what the world saw in the WBC has been next to impossible for the Marlins, even for a month, much less a 162-game season.

As the Marlins head towards their season opener April 6, we've cooked up a few rules for the hometown team to follow to best recapture, bottle, and sustain what the WBC brought to Miami.

Turn Up the Jazz

Miami is an event-driven town powered by electric personalities, and the only unwritten rules you'll find in Dade County have to do with things like what's allowed in a croquette. Let other people apologize for being entertaining.

The Marlins should be the team that reshapes Major League Baseball just as the Big 3 Miami Heat teams changed the NBA. Strive to put on a show, one that begins and ends with celebrating players like center fielder Jazz Chisholm in the same way the Heat celebrated Chris "Birdman" Anderson.

In the past, it seems the Marlins haven't fully embraced what a box office draw Chisholm is.

In 2023, be unapologetically Jazz.

Play the Underdog Role

The 1997 and 2003 World Series championship teams weren't ever supposed to succeed, but both teams won it all as Wild Card entrants in the playoffs. Playing the underdog used to be something that fueled the Marlins' fire as a franchise, and it's time to bring that narrative back because it's 100-percent true.

Many Miami Marlins fans weren't old enough to enjoy the team's last World Series victory in 2003. Most who were old enough to remember it have forgotten what it felt like. Now more than ever — for both the fans and the players — bridging the franchise's storybook history with what's possible today is an absolute necessity.

Miami vs. The World

Nobody wants a LinkedIn version of the Marlins. We could have stayed with the Florida Marlins for that. It's time to give the people what they desire: the villain version of Miami, the one you hate online, but love in person.

During the World Baseball Classic, fans were driven to cheer for their teams by a deep-seated love of country, a devotion that's hard to replicate on a city level. The most obvious way to get Miami residents to root for the Marlins the way they were rooting for their home countries is to remind them that it's Miami against the world.

In the same sense the Marlins should never apologize or tone down what Jazz Chisholm brings to the park each night, we should always and forever be unabashedly, in-your-face Miami.

Be Storytellers 

Because of the nature of the long season, a slow-moving sport, and a uniform that doesn't cover players' faces, baseball lends itself best to falling in love with a particular player for who he is and where he comes from. But even in the age of social media, where players can tell their own stories, it's up to the clubs to do so in a way that connects with the fans.

The Marlins' social media and website should be littered with stories about why their players love the game, where they come from, and who they are outside of the sport.

Years of watching their favorite players being traded have jaded Marlins fans into becoming attached to the names on the back of the jerseys instead of the people wearing them. Work harder at changing that.

Be Committed to the Community

It's easy to sell tickets for Puerto Rico Night at the Park and play some familiar music, but if there is anyone who's best at smelling bullshit, it's the Latin American communities that reside in Miami.

Miami fans want to feel like the hometown team cares about them, even after the game. So be more than a bobblehead that looks like a guy that was born in the same country as me.

That means sponsoring Little League teams and working with the underprivileged or unemployed. It means opening food banks in the Dominican Republic and donating hospital supplies to countries in need.

It means being real about it, whatever it takes.

To truly get folks to support the hometown team on a nightly basis, and for the long term, the Marlins should continue to invest in specific communities where those people live.

This is an axiom to follow not just for a franchise that's gained so much from local tax dollars, but for any team with a genuine commitment to earning lifelong fans. 
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi

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