Yesterday the Miami Marlins fielded an Opening Day team against the Chicago Cubs that looked more like a Triple-A squad than a Major League Baseball roster. Predictably, the Fish lost. In fact, they gave up a monster home run to the Cubs on the very first pitch. There will be many more losses for a team that is expected to be the worst in baseball this year. It'll get a lot worse before it gets any better.
But the Marlins have finally gotten rid of Jeffrey Loria in favor of new owners committed to building the franchise into a perennial World Series contender. This awful season feels like a proper reset button, and even the hardest Giancarlo Stanton supporters deep down know the prospect-deficient and money-strapped franchise badly needed a restart.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins are also in the process of a renovation. Gone is Jarvis Landry and his 400 catches in four seasons, and arrived is alpha dog Danny Amendola. Another year at Hard Rock Stadium means another round of musical chairs of filling roster holes and assigning blame for the team's annual failures. The actors are different, but the script remains the same since the team last won a playoff game in 2000.
The Fins hope the return of Ryan Tannehill and the new and improved "culturally aware" players will catch lightning in a bottle. But Dolphins fans will tell you not to hold your breath. They'll also tell you this season smells of one of those years that ends Adam Gase's three-year plan so someone else can begin another three-year plan.
If you think big changes came after the Dolphins finished 6-10 last season, wait until they go 6-10 this season. There will be a front-office shakeup that resembles the red wedding scene in Game of Thrones.
So which of our sad-sack teams is closer to winning it all? Will the Marlins or Dolphins hoist a championship banner first?
Once you're done laughing at that question, take a step back and answer another question: Do the Dolphins really have a better five-year outlook than the Marlins? One team has nowhere to go but up, while the other is facing long odds to even rise to the middle of the pack in the NFL.
A recent Twitter poll asked exactly this question. And though 359 votes don't speak for all of South Florida fans, the fact that the poll was nearly cut in half is pretty telling in light of the fact that the Marlins have bottomed out and the Dolphins are supposedly entering a "win now" season.
Which team will win a championship first?— Ryan Yousefi (@Rizzmigizz) March 22, 2018
One team has come to terms with who they are, and one team hasn't — that's the fundamental difference here.
The Marlins have begun a fresh start under a new regime that is willing to put in the time and patience to build a contender with a solid foundation that's here to last. Like their opponent this week, the Cubs, the Fish are willing to stink for a few years if it means stockpiling talented young players who will be under the team's control long enough for the Marlins to afford a squad that can compete with the Dodgers of the world who can simply open a checkbook and buy themselves a World Series contender.
What a time to be alive as a South Florida sports fan. In back to back days ESPN ranks the Marlins and Dolphins as the worst teams in power ranking pic.twitter.com/nnI24t6yv4— Will Manso (@WillManso) March 28, 2018
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But the Dolphins are the same old story. They spent another offseason of free-agency whack-a-mole trying to knock out the biggest weaknesses while borrowing strengths. One door opens, another closes. Meanwhile, the best teams in the NFL seem to be playing an entirely different sport and selecting players from a totally different talent pool.
Watching a team like the Los Angeles Rams make offseason moves is like watching someone play chess. Watching the Dolphins make offseason moves is like watching someone play Connect Four. Try to find one local fan who believes the Fins are closer to a Super Bowl now than they are to a three-win season.
The Marlins plan to build for the future and make a run at the 2023 World Series trophy. The Dolphins keep running to Target to buy new things to make their apartment look a little better in the short term.
Which team is closer to getting it done? It's the Marlins.