The Miami Marlins have had trouble drawing fans since, well, their entire existence.
For years the low attendance could be blamed on playing in an outdoor football stadium that everyone could be rained on.
Maybe people hated the fact that the team was constantly being rebuilt or there was no player to emotionally hang your hat on.
From the outside, it sure looks like Miami is filled with transplanted Northeasterners who will never drop their devotion to their old teams. And maybe Miami is not a great sports city.
The Marlins need to do some things to get people excited about their team. And they happen to have one of the most exciting players in baseball wearing the teal… er I mean Orange… or whatever the Marlins are wearing.
Jose Fernandez is a whole lot of awesome. He dominated the Rockies in the home opener in front of (supposedly) 37,116 fans. Granted, shutting down the Rockies isn’t exactly a hard thing to do, but the Marlins need every win they can get following their 100 loss season in 2013.
Jose Fernandez is everything the Marlins could hope for in a drawing card.
He is young. He’s energetic. He’s fun. He’s dynamic. He dominates his games.
He’s good looking and has a flair for the dramatic.
He is also a native of Cuba who was raised in Florida.
You would think this would be the Floridian answer to Fernando-Mania, when Valenzuela became the superstar for the Dodgers and the Mexican population of Los Angeles finally embraced the team.
But Marlin fans did not exactly go streaming into the stadium when Cuban-American Alex Fernandez and Livan Hernandez, a refugee from Castro, were pitching the Marlins to the 1997 World Series title.
They need to market Fernandez. They need to sell him to Miami. And they need to basically say “Hey! When you come to Marlins Park (or whatever it is called) and it is a Fernandez game, you are probably going to see a Marlins win or at least a great game.”
And for the people with short attention spans, it will be a well pitched and fast game.
So why not figure out all of his starts NOW? The Marlins have a domed stadium. People won’t get rained upon. Map out the rest of the year to make sure that Fernandez pitches with at least 5 days of rest but always on home stands. Work it out today.
If his fifth day is the final game of a road trip, call someone AAA New Orleans for a spot start and have Fernandez pitch the first game back. Try to line up his starts for weekend games.
Jackie Robinson Day always gets a lot of attention. That’s at home. Have him start that game.
Memorial Day weekend the Marlins are at home. Schedule him NOW for one of the games.
Labor Day, the Marlins are at home against the Mets. Announce that Fernandez is pitching that game.
Go through the entire year and announce each start at home so fans can make plans accordingly. In the end, it will probably prevent him from being over pitched and Marlin fans can buy tickets knowing they are going to see their superstar (barring injury of course.)
Does this seem like an extreme measure? Maybe it is. But remember this was the team that complained when the Red Sox did not bring enough stars to a spring training game. They need to sell tickets and need to get people feeling good about seeing the Marlins.
Why not make it easy for them? Plan out the Fernandez games! Tell fans when he will be pitching in Miami. Weather is no longer a factor. And barring a collapse by the Nationals and Braves, neither is the pennant!
It is a rebuilding year, not only with the team but with the fan base, still smarting after the 2012 Ozzie Guillen fiasco.
Give the fans a reason to come to the ballpark. They have one of the best pitchers in baseball. That’s a reason. Make it easy for them to make plans.
Besides, how much longer will Fernandez be with the Marlins before he is traded? Time to do SOMETHING fan friendly in Miami!