Marlins, Heat, Panthers, Dolphins, Hurricanes, whatever team you can think of in South Florida, its been struggling lately. Bad ownership, bad coaches, bad managment, bad players, whatever the reason, no team seems to be going in the right direction.
Lets start off with baseball, the Florida Marlins. Established in 1993. Two playoff appearences. Two championships. The other 12 years: huge disappointment. What is the reason? Mainly bad ownership and the inability to get a new stadium built. The owner of the Florida Marlins is Jeffrey Loria. Since hes been owner, the Marlins have had one of the lowest payrolls in the league, if not the lowest, every single year. He gets young players, they turn out to be championship caliber, they win it all, and BOOM! FIRESALE! Since hes been the owner, thats how its been. Right now, the Marlins have one of the youngest rosters in the league after trading stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit. It doesent look like they'll make the playoffs this year. Also, the stadium problem. Ever since the ingression of the Marlins into Major League Baseball, they have been playing in Dolphins Stadium. Instead of seats facing home plate, theyre facing the middle of the field, it has huge dimensions, and it doesent have a baseball like atmosphere. Jeffrey Loria has been unwilling to spend any money until a stadium deal gets done which would push relocation out of question. Theres still no stadium, so still no money being spent. Right now, it looks like a deal will be made in the next 2 months, and the stadium will be ready by 2010, 2011. Still, the franchise is going nowhere.
Then come the Miami Dolphins. As of 1/25/08, the only team that has gone undefeated in the regular season, and the playoffs. Right now though, the Dolphins dont wanna win the Super Bowl, or even make the playoffs. All they want is to win more than one game the entire season. The Dolphins are one of the most storied franchises in NFL History, having won 2 Super Bowls, having 9 Hall of Famers, and 3 retired numbers, but they havent made the playoffs since 2001. A lot has happened since then. And it doesent seem like a return to the playoffs is coming any time soon. Horrible drafting, too many coaching staff hiring and firings, and lack of heart coming off of players. It seems like ever since the Dolphins left the Orange Bowl, theyve been cursed. And right now, its just painfull to watch this team play.
Then come the Miami Hurricanes. Theyve always been a powerhouse in football, but the last couple of seasons have been some to remember. Miami is the winningest program of the last quarter century, having won 5 National Championships, the last in 2001. But in 2005, when they joined the ACC, a decline started. Kyle Wright took over as QB. He was rated as one of the best College Recruits in the country, but he heavely dissapointed. The season started off with an astonoshing loss against archrival Florida State, as the Hurricanes holder bobbled the potential tying kick as time winded down. They went on to face LSU in the Peach Bowl, but got blowned out.The year after, another astonishing loss to Florida State, also because of a field goal. Then a brawl against FIU, and the assasination of Bryan Pata. The team was down, and it showed. Larry Coker quit, and Miami won in the MPC Computer Bowl against Nevada, by the minimum difference. Randy Shannon took over, Miami finally beat FSU, but had a losing record, and failed to make a bowl game for the first time since 1997. But, at least Miami has some good recruits coming. Northwestern High School, the #1 rated High School Team in the nation, has their 6 best players commited to the U, with 4 of them already enrolled in classes. One of these is a QB, which the Hurricanes have been desperately needing. Hopefully better times are coming.
So we switch over to the team that plays in the Bank Atlantic Center, the Florida Panthers. They havent made the playoffs since 2000. The team has always had a few super stars in the team, including Pavel Bure, Scott Mellanby, Roberto Luongo, Robert Svehla, and Olli Jokinen, among others. But they just never had what it takes to win the cup. The first playoff appearence was back in 1996, when the Panthers made the Stanley Cup but were swept out by the Colorado Avalanche in the classical Year of the Rat, when fans threw rats on the ice after a goal. This started when in the locker room, Scott Mellanby saw a rat, one timed it into the wall, killed it, and scored 2 goals later that night, which was later referred to as: "The Rat Trick". The team has had a history of making trades with the Vancouver Canucks, positive and negative ones. In 1999, they acquired Pavel Bure, reuniting him with his brother Valeri. He helped the team a lot during his years here. But in June 23, 2006, Florida returned the favor, with Mike Keenan trading Luongo and Kracijek for Todd Bertuzzi, Alex Auld, and Bryan Allen. Only Allen is still here. Keenan quit shortly after. The Panthers acquired Tomas Vokoun from the Preds the following offseason. So there was supposed to be hope this season with a young, but maturing roster feauturing Jokinen, Horton, Weiss, Vokoun, and Bouwmeester, but it hasnt turned out that way. The Panthers are well within reach of a division title, but havent played their best, having a losing record at home, and losing many games towards the end. Many times, the team seems like its playing with no heart. Either everyone shows up for the game, or noone shows up, except one or two players, which isnt enough.
Then come the Miami Heat. Less than two years removed from an NBA championship, theyre on the midst of a 15 game losing streak. When Riley arrived in Miami, he quickly brought in great players, including Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning, Thunder Dan, and P.J. Brown. He then took the Heat to the Eastern Conference Championship and made the Heat a team to fear.
But then something major happened. Alonzo Mourning announced his retirement for that season because of kidney problems. The Heat then had to rebuild. No problem. Very nice drafting, including the Butler duo, Caron and Rasual. Riley then stepped down as coach and concentrated only on making deals. He signed Lamar Odom, and Udonis Haslem. Also, he drafted Dwyane Wade. The Heat were back in the playoffs. Shaquille O'Neal then came over. He lead the Heat alongside Flash to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose in the final minute of Game 7 to the Pistons. Riley pretty much cleaned the house, and brough some other guys in the biggest trade in NBA history, including Jason Williams, James Posey, and Antoine Walker. Pat came back to the bench. Next season, the Heat got by the Pistons to make the NBA Finals, and after trailing 2-0 in the series against Dallas, Miami rebounded to win the next 4 and the title. The next season, the Heat got swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Bulls. The Heat also had trouble in the salary cap, so they could not pursue Eddie Jones, Jason Kapono, James Posey, among others. They also traded Walker and others for Ricky Davis and Mark Blount. And added pretty much noone else. Wade started the season on the bench with a knee and shoulder injury.. Shaq has been injured a lot. And for the last 15 games, the Heat have found a way to lose in every single game. Theyve only gotten blown out in 2 of these games, theyve been in every game, even had the lead various times, but night in and night out, theyve found a way to lose. Its incredible, they havent won since last year. And that was on a buzzer shot.
So after reading all of this, you must understand how tough it is to be a South Florida Sports Fan, especially if youre a fan of every single one of these teams. Not just a casual fan, but a diehard fan. So you snowbirds in Boston, Detroit, wherever you are, you are lucky, because it is just painful watching your team lose pretty much every game, whatever the sport. But no matter what, Ill be a fan of every single of these teams forever.