One of the worst-kept secrets in baseball was made official on Monday: The Miami Marlins will indeed be the featured team when Showtime's second season of "The Franchise" kicks off later this year.
It's a great choice, of course. With the team moving into a new ballpark and Ozzie Guillen set to manage a colorful cast of characters, the Marlins were by far the best candidates in the field.
But that doesn't mean the production staff won't need a few pointers from a noted reality TV expert such as myself. Just as I did before last year's Giants-themed run, here are five tips for the season ahead.
1. It's a marathon, not a sprint: When all was said and done, I loved the first season and the time we spent with the defending world champion Giants. But you'll remember that I originally thought the hour-long premiere episode sped through too many first-half storylines and left our heads spinning. With the Marlins facing a lot of important issues early on — from the opening of a new ballpark to Hanley Ramirez's switch to third — it'll be disappointing if they rush things at a similar rate.
2. Don't forget about Mike Stanton: Or Josh Johnson. Or Gaby Sanchez. Or Ricky Nolasco. Or, well you get my point. While it might be easy to center an entire series on the antics of Guillen, Logan Morrison, Carlos Zambrano and Heath Bell (with a little Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes star power thrown in), there are plenty of other great players to feature. I'm most excited to see Stanton and how he goes about his work as he blossoms into this generation's next great home run hitter.
3. Don't shy away from the ballpark controversy: The first season of "The Franchise" was not a house organ production by any means, even if MLB Productions is the one doing the heavy lifting. There were plenty of revealing scenes involving the Giants' players and front office and there's no doubt that they'll approach the Marlins season the same way. In particular, I'd like to see the complete picture of opening night, including any and all protests that may surround the debut. Folks in south Florida are angry with the way that owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson got their public funding and any unbiased documentary will include coverage of the opposition.
4. The more Latin flavor, the better: I'd venture to guess that MLB and Showtime executives would have been hesitant in the past to feature a team with so many Latino players. But they should receive a lot of credit for rightly realizing they have a great opportunity to shine a light on a part of baseball that's been traditionally under-represented in English-speaking media. It'll be interesting to see how much the production relies on subtitles, because they could miss out on a lot of good clubhouse moments if they click off the cameras once someone starts speaking Spanish.
5. Four words — "And featuring Jack McKeon": Guillen will make for great television, especially since Showtime's president says they won't edit out any of his "salty language." At the same time, a few guest appearances from the quotable octogenarian manager that Ozzie replaced would make for some YouTube-worthy material.
At least consider the idea of his people meeting with your people, OK, Showtime?