Wishing for Marlins’ All-Stars a better experience than poor Dan Uggla got

What would be a dream performance for Marcell Ozuna or Giancarlo Stanton playing at Marlins Park in Tuesday’s All-Star Game?

Well, something along the lines of Ted Williams’ day at Fenway Park in the 1946 All-Star Game would do.

Teddy Ballgame went 4-for-4 with a couple of home runs and five RBI in that 12-0 American League victory. His 10 total bases were a single-game record for the Midsummer Classic, along with just every other thing he did.

Heck, if there had been a Home Run Derby back then, Williams probably would have won that, too.

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Yes, something like that would be great to see from one of the Marlins in the combined showcase of Monday and Tuesday nights. And what is it that we absolutely, positively don’t want to see?

Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla pictured in 2010, the last of his five seasons with the team. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Think Dan Uggla in 2008 at Yankee Stadium.

For openers, the Marlins second baseman finished fifth in the Home Run Derby with six balls hit out of the park.

Then, after subbing in for starter Chase Utley, Uggla got caught in one of the longest and lousiest All-Star experiences ever.

Because the game lasted 15 innings and ended at the ungodly hour of 1:38 a.m., Uggla came to the plate four times, striking out on three of those appearances and grounding into a double play on the other. Oh, and one of those whiffs came with the bases loaded.

It was even worse in the field. Three errors, including two on consecutive plays in the 10th inning.

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When the American League finally won on a sacrifice fly by Texas’ Michael Young in the 15th, it should have come as a relief to Uggla. Instead, he stood at his locker expressing the kind of self-confidence that made him an All-Star in the first place.

“I know what kind of player I am,” Uggla said. “I’m fine. The only thing I’m mad about is that we lost. I never was down. You shake it off, you move on, and you keep playing.””

He meant what he said because the rest of Uggla’s season was a success, with 32 homers and 92 RBI.

 

 

 

A Marlins sale prior to All-Star Game is just too neat and tidy to feel true any more

The All-Star Game at Marlins Park is sneaking up fast now, with barely more than five weeks to go before the annual exhibition between National League and American League stars, plus the Home Run Derby and all the rest, brings baseball’s spotlight to Miami.

How sweet it would be to have a new ownership announcement for Jeffrey Loria’s franchise by then but I’m losing hope with each new headline on the topic.

 

2016 Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaking at a rally in Summerville, S.C. Former Florida Gov. Bush is no longer interested in buying the Miami Marlins and has ended his pursuit of the team, a person close to the negotiations said Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Jeb Bush has dropped his name from the potential ownership group featuring Derek Jeter. That supposedly would breathe new life into the bid led by Tagg Romney, the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but his group reportedly is growing frustrated with the process and might step away.

Already a group led by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has come and gone as a potential Marlins buyer. Politics ultimately got in the way. Hey, it’s 2017. What else would get in the way?

So it would be a real surprise now to get this clog unstuck in time for the July 9 All-Star Legends & Celebrities Softball game, or the July 10 Home Run Derby or the July 11 All-Star game.

Major League Baseball has too much to study with the financials of the bidding groups, and Loria won’t rush through negotiations. There is a lot at stake for him here and, characteristically, he will want it all to go his way.

Makes you wonder what all was discussed before Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, then just three weeks into the job, announced that the Marlins would be All-Star hosts.

The bones of that deal surely were knitted together under former commissioner Bud Selig, who had a system of rewarding franchises with new stadiums to show off. Manfred surely is interested in a fresh start in Miami, for the good of baseball, for the good of the community’s trust in the game. If Loria gave any hints that he might be looking to sell soon, perhaps even making the 2017 All-Star game his final big moment as owner, that wouldn’t have hurt the bid and probably would have helped.

“It was time for baseball to recognized and pay back South Florida for what they did in building this stadium,” Manfred said on Feb. 13, 2016, the day MLB officially awarded the All-Star Game to Miami.

Fair enough, but when MLB took the 2000 All-Star Game away from Miami and awarded it to Atlanta instead, it was a punishment for the World Series fire sale of former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga and the ongoing uncertainty about the franchise’s future. South Florida fans were farther down the list of priorities.

Here is what Loria said on the day of the All-Star announcement more than two years ago. He patted himself on the back. He sold once more the idea that nobody understands his motivations or appreciates the sacrifices he makes.

“It’s baseball’s recognition that you’re doing good things,” Loria said. “They awarded it to us. We didn’t go and buy it.

“You don’t get to the top unless you have ups and downs. You have to take the criticism and take the good with the bad. I’m still here, and I’m still here, and I’m still here because I believed in what we were doing along the way. We changed a lot of things. I took a lot of criticism for what I called pushing the reset button, but if I didn’t push that damn reset button, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Well, I’m still here believing that Loria will pass on his team to another owner at a huge profit when he is good and ready. The change won’t be as easy as everyone wants it to be, and it won’t be swift.

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Meanwhile, let the criticism come. Loria has something that other people want. It’s a heady feeling, and one that will only grow stronger in the weeks growing up to the All-Star Game.

It’s sneaking up fast now, and the notion of some new owner taking the bows during All-Star weekend just doesn’t seem to be in the cards any more.

 

 

Four Marlins All-Stars? That’s more than Miami’s World Series teams

 

There are four Miami Marlins on the 2016 National League All-Star roster and none of them are Giancarlo Stanton or the still-suspended Dee Gordon.

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 2: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins throws a fourth inning pitch against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 2, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – JULY 2: Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins throws a fourth inning pitch against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

What does that mean about the team’s postseason possibilities? Probably nothing. The Marlins’ world championship teams of 1997 and 2003 only had three All-Star representatives each.

Kevin Brown, Charles Johnson and Moises Alou were on the first title team. Mike Lowell, Dontrelle Willis and Luis Castillo were on the second one, and it took injuries to other players to get the D-Train and Castillo on the roster.

Nobody’s ever quite sure what to make of this franchise and the ebb and flow of its talent pool.

This season it’s no surprise to see Jose Fernandez selected as an All-Star, but Marcell Ozuna? The team seemed to be pretty much fed up with him last season. Now he’s batting over .300 for the first time and headed for the All-Star game in San Diego next Tuesday. Maybe Ozuna ought to take Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds with him.

Miami’s other two All-Stars are out of the bullpen, A.J. Ramos and newcomer Fernando Rodney, recently acquired by trade from the Padres. That says two good things about the organization. It’s got depth in an area that is vital to the success of any team, plus the Marlins are aggressive enough about the 2016 playoffs to spend important assets on an All-Star arm.

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Still, there’s no reason to get worked up about something crazy with this club, right? No World Series run or anything like that.

Every time a thought like that crosses my mind, I think of 2003. At the All-Star break, the Marlins were 49-46 and 13 games behind the division-leading Braves. Then came a 42-25 finish to grab a wild-card playoff berth and you know the rest.

At the moment Miami is a bit over .500 again as the All-Star break approaches. Close enough to make some noise, especially if Stanton keeps hitting long home runs. He could still have an All-Star level second half of the season, even if he’s missed the mark so far.