Derek Jeter knows the Miami Marlins aren’t going to be a good team in 2019. Instead of trying to go out and add talented players who are still sitting on the market, Jeter is opting for a bold, new strategy: Act like you’re a minor-league team.
Attending Marlins games shouldn’t be about who wins or who losses the game this season. It should be about whether you had a good experience, Jeter told WPLG in Miami.
“This is professional sports, and I feel bad for even saying this, but it’s impossible to win every single game. But one thing you always remember is the experience you had while you were at the park. We want it to be a positive experience. We want people to enjoy themselves, and look, a lot of times people come [and] they don’t know who won or lost, sometimes they don’t even know who was playing, but they do know if they had a good experience and that’s what we’re focusing on.”
This is a common strategy for minor-league teams, which have to focus on entertainment, affordability and a family experience to sell tickets. It’s not something typically seen by major-league teams, which should be focused on winning games.
It’s an indefensible position by Jeter considering the Marlins can take steps to make themselves a much better team. Useful players like Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Denard Span, Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez, Evan Gattis and Gio Gonzalez are all still available.
Considering the state of the Marlins, adding all those players still might not make the team a playoff contender, but as Bryce Harper proved, bringing in good players sells tickets.
In their defense, the Marlins pledged to lower ticket prices last August. That move, however, likely isn’t being done because the team knows it won’t be competitive. Lowering ticket prices might be a necessity. The Marlins finished dead last in attendance last season, averaging 10,013 fans per game, per ESPN.
Jeter’s point about some fans not caring about the outcome of the game is valid. Some fans just want to have fun and enjoy the experience. That’s completely fair. But what happens when there are cheaper entertainment options available?
Some Marlins tickets can be purchased for under $15, which is a good deal for a major-league team. But if you’re buying online, you are subject to paying convenience fees and order fees. On top of that, you may have to pay for transportation, parking and concessions. At a certain point, it becomes far more cost effective to just go see a movie.
The Marlins had a pretty entertaining team when the new ownership group took over. By supplementing talented players like Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto with free-agent additions, the Marlins might have made a run at a wild-card spot in 2018.
They opted to sell Stanton and trade everyone else before they could make money.
There was a scenario where this could have been different. Where Jeter would be selling fans on the young core of stars coming together to make noise in the National League East.
Instead, Jeter is admitting the team is going to be awful in 2019, and hoping fans will pay for tickets anyway.
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