If it’s true that baseball is America’s favorite pastime then MLB now has a new face for the league.
The Miami Marlins are not the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox but they have enough talent to contend. They faltered down the home stretch last season but 2017 could forever change the landscape of the organization.
The worst thing for any opponent is to play a team that has a purpose. Name another team besides the Marlins that will enter the season with more than pride and a World Series title in their sights.
If 2016 was about playing healthy then 2017 is about redemption and honor. The Marlins entered the season with high hopes but then came the suspension of 2nd baseman Dee Gordon, the season-ending injury to Giancarlo Stanton and the heartbreaker of them all.
When Jose Fernandez passed away it not only took an amazing personality from this earth it took one of the best pitchers and the Marlins ACE. How were they supposed to contend last season?
This is a new year, a new opportunity and a new focus on a team that will look to band together, not only for the city, the organization, or the fans but for themselves and their fallen brother.
This is not Mets of 2016 looking to avenge their 2015 World Series defeat. The Marlins will play the season with heavy hearts which will allow them to be free.
Just like your blood relatives, a tragedy brings families closer and that’s exactly what happened to the Marlins after the passing of Hernandez. It was too late for them to make a push but they will get a fresh start this year.
Gordon is back, Stanton is healthy, Wei-Yin Chen is now the leader of the staff and the young guys that needed to step up last season will be pushed into the fire and will be given their chance to respond. The NL East is not as dominant as it was for the last two years. The Mets still have veteran leadership but just like the Marlins they are an injury away from knocking the Philadelphia Phillies or the Atlanta Braves out the basement.
The Nationals will be their biggest challenge but they also will have to deal with confidence issues and the whispers of Bryce Harper possibly being dealt. There is a chance that if the Marlins can add an extra arm this offseason they may have the necessary tools to make a run at the division.
The Chicago Cubs had the attention last season but 2017 could easily belong to the Marlins.[Mark3]