Fans have long awaited the crack of the bat and pop of the mitt with a season that was slated to begin at the end of March. The Major League Baseball season this year will finally begin July 23rd and 24th.
There will be many changes to the season: there will only be 60 games, teams will only play regionally (for Marlins 40 games against the National League East and 10 against the American League East), the National League will feature a Designated Hitter, a runner will start at second base in extra innings, a 30-man roster to begin the season tapering off to 26, and a 60-man player pool for the season with no minor leagues.
For the Miami Marlins, a team that is building its core, this season will present a different perspective and a new set of opportunities.
A young team, with nothing lose, the Marlins are seemingly looking at this season as one where they can shock the world.
In 1997, owner Wayne Huizenga and the Marlins invested millions of dollars to build a contender which went on to win the team’s first world series championship.
Following that victory, Huizenga dismantled the team and General Manager, Dave Dombrowski, brought back a huge pool of players in return through trades. Those players formed the core of what became the championship team in 2003.
Two years ago, after the sale to a group led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, the Marlins were forced to begin rebuilding their minor league system that had been depleted over several seasons.
Over the last two seasons, some of those players like Miguel Rojas, Sandy Alcantarra, Brian Anderson and Caleb Smith have begun to show their true potential and staying power in the big leagues.
Key additions have also been made this season with players like Corey Dickerson, Matt Joyce, Jonathan Villar, Jesus Aguilar, Brandon Kintzler, Francisco Cervelli and even their first round draft pick, Max Meyer, in the 60-man player pool with potential of making his big league debut.
Now, faced with a 60-game season, this young team thinks the shortened season can truly help them contend.
Can they do it? Why not?
In 1997 and 2003, the Marlins were always considered long-shots and underdogs all the way to the final game of the World Series.
Power rankings by top baseball writers may have ranked this team 29th and 30th among all major league teams, but that has not phased the players who lead this club.
Early Thursday morning, July 2nd, Marlins left handed starting pitcher, Caleb Smith posted the following on his Twitter account: “I’ve approached my entire life with the ‘why not me’ mentality. -Someone has to get a college scholarship: WHY NOT ME. -Someone has to get drafted in the mlb draft: WHY NOT ME. -Someone has to pitch it the big leagues. WHY NOT ME. -Someone has to win the World Series this year: WHY NOT US!! @Marlins.”
The team’s shortstop, Miguel Rojas, replied to Smith’s tweet, “WHY NOT US !!!”
While the schedule will place them in one of the most competitive regional settings (2019 NL East Standings: Braves 97-65, Nationals 93-69, Mets 86-76, Phillies 81-81, Marlins 57-105; AL East Standings: Yankees 103-59, Rays 96-66, Red Sox 84-78, Blue Jays 67-95, Orioles 54-108), the 60-game season presents an opportunity for every team to compete, as a couple of long winning streaks or good stretches of games can yield a wildcard spot for any team. After all, this Marlins team did have the second-best record in this year’s shortened Spring Training at 12-6 (Phillies 14-5).
As fans, this will definitely present for a very exciting 2020 Major League Baseball season. As Caleb Smith said, “Why Not Us!!”
The Marlins season kicks off on July 24th in Philadelphia against the Philadelphia Phillies.