Fast-forward to this week, and the Fish are the laughingstock of baseball, with the third-worst record in the game and a new manager with zero dugout experience. And that plane? Players are still waiting for it.
A third of the way into the season and Loria still hasn't delivered that luxury jet.
That tidbit is buried in a longer Miami Herald story this morning about a players' revolt brewing ever since Loria bizarrely fired manager Mike Redmond and replaced him with GM Dan Jennings, who last coached a high-school team in the '80s. The team has gone just 2-8 since that move, with one agent telling the Herald's Clark Spencer that all 25 players are furious and that an anonymous player groused, "C’mon, show us some stability you preach.”
But whither that luxury ride to away games? The team wasn't shy about boasting about the new jet in the preseason. Here's what Sports Illustrated wrote about the jet in March:
Players were pumped. Christian Yelich, who recalled his time on minor-league buses, said, ''Sometimes the air conditioning wouldn't work, or the bus would break down and you're just sitting there. That's why I say any kind of plane is awesome.''
The Marlins won't be flying in just any kind of plane. They've upgraded this year, leasing a Boeing 767-200 from a private company and retrofitting the jet to their liking. The cabin will have 84 extra-large first-class seats, couches, a massage table and card tables.
The plane will look different from the outside, too, because it will bear the Marlins' logo.
''We want to give our players every opportunity to perform at the highest level they can,'' president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.
Poor Yelich. He has already spent 15 days on the DL this season, and he's still stuck on a crappy old charter flight.
The Herald doesn't explain why the promised luxury plane hasn't arrived yet. New Times has asked a team spokesman for more details; we'll update this post if we hear back.