IF THEY DON'T WIN IT'S A SHAME by Dave Rosenbaum

IF THEY DON'T WIN IT'S A SHAME

The Year the Marlins Bought the World Series
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Freelance sportswriter Rosenbaum offers a breezy look at possibly the least successful champions in team sports history. Despite being in a large media market with a baseball-mad fan base, the refuse-hauling and video-rental tyro Wayne Huizenga’s Miami-based Florida Marlins had trouble drawing and sustaining interest. Prior to the ’97 season, Huizenga bet the farm, spending $89 million in contracts to get the best team money could buy. Huizenga signed a manager, Jim Leyland, who led teams to three division titles in the early ’90s; some hefty bats, problem child Bobby Bonilla, and the quiet superstar, Moises Alou; and a couple of good arms, including Liv†n Hern†ndez and Alex Fern†ndez, to round out an already strong pitching staff. Standing in the way of the Marlins— success were a few obstacles: first, the Atlanta Braves, National League champions for four of the five previous years. The second, and to Huizenga the most formidable, was Pro Player stadium, a venue woefully ill-suited to the realities of baseball in the late ’90s. Simply put, the stadium was pitifully short of amenities such as deluxe concessionaires and luxury boxes that were deemed essential to garnering corporate support. Perhaps most damning of all, however, was the lack of a roof—a must for keeping southern Florida’s summer rains out. By building his team, he hoped to bring in fans, and in turn obtain financing for the new baseball stadium that could make the Marlins profitable (writes the author, “If they come, maybe they’ll build it”). During the season, the Marlins battled to a wildcard playoff spot, getting leadership from the unlikeliest places, notably from Bonilla. Despite finally vanquishing the Braves, winning the World Series, and being embraced by Miami’s diverse communities, the Marlins still finished millions of dollars in the red (and no closer to a new stadium), thus necessitating a fire sale to dump star player salaries. An unflinching primer of sports economics and its new definitions of success.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-9653846-8-3
Page count: 328pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998