It is only mid-July. There are still roughly seventy games to be played in this year’s Major League Baseball season. But, for the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres it might as well be November. For these two teams, there is already nothing at stake, little to play for and virtually no way to compel fans to come out and watch a ballgame.
The Eastern Division Marlins, a team loaded with young, rising stars, including superstar Giancarlo Stanton, have been disappointing from day one. Their record going into this weekend’s series, which begins tonight, is 39-55. They are in 4th place in their division, a whopping 13 ½ games behind the Washington Nationals.
The San Diego Padres have also underperformed this season. Their General Manager gave out big contracts last offseason to lure top players, including Melvin Upton, Jr., his brother Justin Upton and Matt Kemp, a former star outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Graphic via padrespublic
Their totally revamped outfield has not helped this team rise in the standings. Their won-loss record is 44-51. They are in 4th place in the National League Western Division, nine-and-one-half games behind the first place Dodgers. There are also many teams (perhaps too many teams) ahead of them in the race for a Wild Card and a chance to compete in the postseason.
Given the fact that these two teams are already looking ahead to an early winter vacation, there seems to be no reason – absolutely no lure – to draw fans to the ballpark over the next four days. The average fan, and even those who are committed and die-hard, might feel that it is senseless to spend his or her hard-earned money on costly tickets, parking and food and drink when the participants are “playing for nothing.”
And yet, true fans should look at the larger picture. This upcoming weekend gives the casual and the hard-core fan a chance to enjoy San Diego’s outstanding weather while watching young stars from both squads show off the talent and athleticism that got them to the big leagues.
As all true baseball fans know, there is nothing more intriguing and exciting than observing highly skilled, developing players perform in big league games.
And these two squads have many players worth watching. For example, the Marlins can send on-the-rise pitchers like Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler and David Phelps to the mound. Shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria is defensively-gifted while first baseman Justin Bour possesses big time power and a home run swing. Catcher J.T. Realmuto is another young player worth watching.
The Padres, like the Marlins, also have exciting, young stars such as shortstop Alexi Anarista, first baseman Yonder Alonso and pitchers like Andrew Cashman and Tyson Ross.
These players give fans good reason to show up at the ballpark. And it’s possible that one or both of these teams may even call up more young players and give them a chance to show what they’re about – beginning tonight.
Graphic via local10