Here are the Marlins' all time leaders in several categories:
Home Runs: Mike Lowell, 143.
Runs: Luis Castillo, 675.
OPS: Carlos Delgado, .981
Wins: Dontrelle Willis, 68.
ERA: Kevin Brown, 2.30.
Saves: Robb Nen, 108.
Here are the five humans who have started the most games on the mound for the Marlins, in order: Willis, A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny, Ryan Dempster, Pat Rapp.
When you conjure up images of those players, not a single one of them is wearing a Marlins uniform. (With the possible exception of Pat Rapp, whom I'm impressed you remember at all.) (Ed. Note: OK, and Dontrelle. Headslapper move there. Voices, heard.) The only Florida Marlin historical figure — as historical as anything that started in 1993 can be — who comes to my mind is Jeff Conine, for some reason. Maybe that weird mascot. Actually, it's just the Manatees. In case you forgot what state the Marlins play in.
Baseball is always trying to whitewash the history it doesn't like and bronze the history it does, so it's not a surprise that the team that has won the second-most World Series in the last 30 years rarely shows up in retrospective packages. (How cruel that the most crushing moment for the Cubs, a team so desperate for a World Series, happened against a team that history has already forgotten, a team barely even noticed at the time.) The Florida Marlins are a nowhere team, an anomaly, an unfortunate wart that keeps popping up every few years, long after you thought you'd taken care of it already. The Marlins are the remainder on a division problem.
That is mean and unfair, you say, and you're of course correct. I would apologize to Marlins fans if I knew where they were. I mean that in every sense of the word. The A's might have lower attendance numbers, but they certainly do have fans. I've never met a Marlins fan. I've met Memphis Grizzlies fans. The passion just isn't there: The Marlins — as an on-field team, not as an organization — have done everything possible to please a fanbase over the last 13 years, and it just hasn't stuck. One of the countless pleasures of being a baseball fan is knowing that, no matter where you are, no matter who you are, no matter what you believe, there is a rabid fanbase out there that thinks just like you do. Fordham basketball, a team that is 2-24 this season, has an active message board, people obsessing about recruits and campus visits and future schedules and budgets for the athletic program. They are engaged.
FishStripes, a nice little Marlins blog for the SB Nation network, dutifully updated fans with five posts yesterday. These were posts from Spring Training, the most lush, hopeful time of the season, the time when even casual fans stretch their arms out and shake off the cobwebs for a new year. Not a single one of those posts elicited so much as one comment. They're fine posts, hearty posts, sturdy posts. And nothing. The Internet was invented for pornography, being able to make Ashton Kutcher aware of your existence and the discussion of baseball. The interest just isn't there. I'm not trying to be mean. The Florida Marlins just aren't happening. And still, they pop up, ever and ever.
They're opening a new stadium in two years, surely set up for more money in Jeff Loria's pocket, who's basically an upgraded version of George Steinbrenner, Steinbrenner 2.0, except Loria doesn't actually care about winning. This is an empty franchise, clogging up baseball history, getting in the way of what everyone wants and expects to happen, in the way of what can be sold and splashed across commemorative T-shirts and mugs. They destroy the story that's attempting to be written. They are the fish in the ointment. They are constant trouble.
The Florida Marlins are chaos. They are nonsense. Bless them for that. This is my favorite thing about the Florida Marlins, and pretty much why I'm always cheering for them. You should too. Somebody should.