When you follow a perennially shitty team like the Miami Marlins, change can feel both sudden and incremental. The single games or plays that torpedoed one season or another in variously spectacular fashion vanish from the memory, if only because there was never anything meaningful to lose in the first place. The shape of the failure might change, but in the most basic sense every year is defined by the same lurking dread of the bottom falling out, or being demolished on purpose. And then on opening day it’s J.T. Realmuto, Starlin Castro, and some prospects worth little more than a faded iTunes gift card. You’ll forget them, too, before too long.
Jeffrey Loria’s no longer overseeing the chaos in Miami, but it’s hard not see to his fingerprints all over the team’s estate sale offseason, which stood out as crass and gross even in comparison to the entire league’s nightmare offseason. The Marlins’ new owners, Bruce Sherman and disgraced face of the franchise Derek Jeter, were transparently not prepared to operate a baseball team—they appear not to have enough money on hand to own one, for one thing—and yet most of their missteps in the last few months line up perfectly with the years of hilarious ineptitude that came before. They were set up for this.
It’s possible to trace all this disgrace back to one gaudy, oafish, era-defining monument of Loria’s legacy, and I’m not referring to the left-centerfield color explosion that’s garish enough to make Lisa Frank blush. I am referring to my favorite baseball song. I am referring to “Marlins Will Soar.”
Heading into 2010, the Florida Marlins were stuck in a grim fluctuation between outright terrible seasons and periodic years of near-contention beneath the Philadelphia superteams. There were diamond linings, like Dan Uggla eclipsing 4 WAR that one time and Hanley Ramirez’s 9-carat batting title necklace, a gift from Loria himself. The creation of a second wild card spot wouldn’t have helped those Marlins. They needed an anthem, and they got one from permanently shirtless prophet and Creed frontman Scott Stapp.
According to Stapp, he was in an airport when Loria—who, as I’d like to imagine it, thought he was looking at John Rzeznik or Jon Bon Jovi—flagged him down and asked if he could record a song for the team. In exchange, Stapp would get free Marlins tickets for life, and his sons could be bat boys whenever they wanted. This would be a sick deal for anyone, and especially for a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan with few qualms about phoning it the fuck in.
The degree to which Stapp goes through the motions on “Marlins Will Soar” is honestly kind of inspiring. It comes through despite the fact that his signature Stapp-ian extended syllables and ascending guitar licks are aimed well beyond the rafters. Interpolating his already five-year-old song, “You Will Soar” (working title “Will Sore,”) Stapp basically wrote “We Didn’t Start the Fire” for extremely general baseball accomplishments: “A perfect game, a triple play/ Another playoff race, yes/ World Series champs we’ll be.” (The Marlins went 80-82 in 2010.) It’s the story of a successful season relayed in song by someone who learned about baseball exclusively through watching Kevin Costner movies and is running a very high fever.
There’s only enough room in any developmentally stunted internet-damaged brain for one official major league team anthem, and it may as well be “Marlins Will Soar.” But it bears mentioning that it is not the only one. Stapp actually fits nicely into a lineage of underqualified Florida artists landing the big gig. Pitbull produced “Time to Represent” for the team in 2009; alleged rock band Nonpoint recorded “Fear the Fish” in 2011. When the Marlins pry open the gates to something well-beneath capacity crowd on opening day, fans will get to hear a Marlins-themed song called “Just Gettin’ Started,” by someone named Poo Bear, music-adjacent motivational Snapchat personality DJ Khaled, Nicky Jam, and Kent Jones. For a team that works so hard at driving its best baseball players away, the Marlins work awfully hard at attracting musical talent.
Of these, and predictably, Stapp’s Marlins anthem is the only one to make an impact outside of Marlins’ season ticketholders. Creed was already well-established as a popular pick for Worst Band Alive, a fact probably lost on everyone besides Loria, who was otherwise doggedly committed to ruining the state of Florida. Much like The Room, “Marlins Will Soar” is almost too incompetently made to have much potential as a meme—you just have to enjoy what’s there, on its own dorky terms.
Fans did not do this. They revolted when the song was eventually unveiled, just days after Stapp freestyled over the national anthem. In retrospect, this was probably a nice harbinger for when Loria would trot out a frail Muhammad Ali to ensure no one would boo the opening of his team’s new stadium two years later. Loria was a master of shamelessness and a being of pure poor taste. As such, “Marlins Will Soar” should play every time he walks into a room.
Stapp isn’t fully to blame for the Marlins’ woes—maybe 40 percent, minimum—but “Marlins Will Soar” almost cleanly bisects Loria’s reign. There was promise on both sides of Stapp’s anthem, but after the team lucked its way into a 2003 World Series win, it never cashed in on the collective talent of Miguel Cabrera, peak Hanley Ramirez, and sure, Dan Uggla, existing on the same team at once. After “Marlins Will Soar,” there was similar hope grounded in one of the game’s best outfields and the presence of Jose Fernandez’s towering talent on the mound, but that team, too, would never realize that potential. Instead, it led to an eight-year run of losing seasons—the longest such streak in franchise history. If PECOTA and Fangraphs projections are to be believed, the Marlins are a damn near mortal lock to extend it at least for another year.
Based on this short teaser, the creative team behind the new Marlins theme song believe there’s something groundbreaking on their hands, an anthem that’s a little closer to where the global pop zeitgeist is right now, and at the very least closer to the sound of Miami. It’s entirely possible for all of these things to be true in a song that’s still cosmically bad. “Hopefully five years from now, people will still be dancing in the stadium to this song,” the producer and fashion man who really goes by Jingle Jared says near the video’s end. It’s a new era in Miami, again, but of course it feels just like the last one. Second verse, same as the first.