I have to agree with what the Miami Herald's Dan Le Batard had to say in his latest article--where he argues the Miami Marlins are on a bold quest to prove baseball can truly work long-term in South Florida--but I'm not so certain I agree with his implied assessment the management is thinking so much about the Latin aspects of the contract they've offered to Albert Pujols.
Sure, there's no doubt that if their incredible nine-year offer is accepted by the St. Louis Cardinals superstar first baseman it would create a buzz in the area similar to the one seen when the Miami Heat enticed LeBron James to "take his talents to South Beach." However, I believe that same kind of sensationalism could be created by signing other players even if they don't end up landing Pujols, which is seeming more and more likely according to the latest reports.
Instead of Pujols, it's far more likely the Marlins will end up with some combination of New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, Chicago White Sox left-handed hurler Mark Buehrle, and Texas Rangers lefty C. J. Wilson (whom Miami wined and dined on Monday, Nov. 28 in an attempt to woo the restricted free agent hurler to South Florida), along with possibly rookie Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes.
That's not to say I've given up hope Pujols might not end up in one of the new Marlins uniforms (which I still believe are hideous-looking), because the fact Florida has no state income tax can definitely work in their favor in that regard, not to mention the Cardinals might not be willing to offer him nine years or more. That is yet to be sorted out. Nevertheless, whatever happens with Pujols, if the Marlins were successful in getting Reyes and either Buehrle or Wilson (or both), and could also sign Cespedes--combined with the talent they already have on the team--they could make some serious runs at World Series titles for the foreseeable future.
That alone would create a market for baseball in South Florida that could go on to sustain itself forever. Latinos make up a significant percentage of the population in the Miami area, and if there's one thing you can be certain of it's that they love their beisbol. About the only thing that's prevented them from coming out in droves to the stadium in the past are three things: the unavailability of the ballpark when the Marlins made their home at Sun Life Stadium, the horrid weather that constantly made it an iffy proposition to even get in a game, and the lack of a winning product consistently being put on the field.
I believe those days are over, and I'm confident the Marlins will be a huge success over the next few decades. They will, in many respects--as Le Batard attests in his piece--build an international franchise that will be (as I myself have said before) a new Mecca of baseball in the South. Latin players have always loved playing for Miami, but in the future it's almost going to be the only place they'll want to play in my view.
Considering Hispanics are the largest growing segment of the population in the United States, having a team that is so enticing to players of that ethnic background is a winning formula for the Marlins franchise; both for garnering talent on the field and lucrative business deals off the field.
Some have criticized a number of the deals Miami owner Jeffrey Loria has been offering as of late--as well as the entire fact he's built a new ballpark--saying there's no way the Marlins will ever sustain any success in the area, especially because they're currently locked into a television-rights contract with Fox through the year 2020. However, what those doing that criticizing fail to realize--and it's rather ridiculous they can't see something so simple--is television-rights contracts can always be renegotiated even before they're up.
If the Marlins do well for two or three years--averaging something on the level of 30,000 a night in their new air-conditioned, retractable-roof ballpark (which, in my opinion, is a foregone conclusion)--they'll easily have the leverage to push Fox to make a new deal with them and up the revenue from that deal. Combined with other avenues Loria can pursue to gain more revenue, as well as the obvious revenue stream he now has with the ballpark, he could easily turn the Marlins into the New York Yankees of the south someday soon.
Miami has won two titles on the cheap, and there's no doubt in my mind that if it spend lots of money, it'll win even more. Fans around the country better get used to that possibility, because before you know it, I believe it's likely to be a reality.
A reality that could come true even if the Marlins don't sign Pujols.
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Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
*Daniel Barber has rooted for all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.