Can the Miami Marlins Go from Paupers to Playoffs?

Pedro HeizerCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2012

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - MARCH 25:  Infielder Hanley Ramirez #2 of the Miami Marlins stretches just before the start of the Grapefruit League Spring Training Game against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Charlotte Sports Complex on March 25, 2012 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Marlinsinity is in full effect in Miami and the question everyone wants to know is can the Miami Marlins go from paupers to playoffs in one year?

A franchise once known as the laughingstock of Major League Baseball for its under spending on players and its heartbreaking fire sales, the Marlins were one of the hottest stories this offseason, committing $191 million to three superstars (Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell) after spending approximately $210 million combined on the past six years on 40-men rosters.

Not only did Miami sign Reyes, Buehrle, and Bell, but they also made some interesting trades for players like Carlos Zambrano, and Wade LeBlanc.

Add this to a team that already includes Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, Giancarlo Stanton, and Emilio Bonnafacio and the Marlins become a serious threat in the National League East.

The Marlins are on an eight-year playoff drought. Last time the Marlins smelled October baseball was in 2003 when they shocked the baseball world by beating the New York Yankees and were crowned World Series Champions for the second time in their short lived 10-year existence.

Hysteria has hit its peak this week with less than 10 days until opening day. Marlins fans have long awaited the day in which they can go to a ballpark and not worry about rain delays, cancelled games, and the scorching South Florida sun.

Even with a brand new park, new name, new uniforms, new team, and a new attitude, will this be enough to bring fans into the stadium?

JUPITER, FL - MARCH 18:  Jose Reyes #7 of the Miami Marlins bats during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium on March 18, 2012 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

The Marlins have managed to draw two million fans just twice in their history—in 1993, their debut season, and in 1997, the year they won their first World Series.

In 2003, when they won their second title, they ‘reeled in’ a measly 1.3 million fans, the second-lowest total in the National League, and they've finished last in the league in attendance the past six years.

"The fans are here,” says Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria (via Sports Illustrated), “but who wants to sit in the rain every night?"

He might have a point, but if a baseball team that has two World Series championships can’t attract fans into the stadium, what makes a colorful Miami Marlins more attractive? I’ll tell you this much, it’s not this.

There are high hopes in Miami this year. A city that once was the laughingstock of the Sports World now boasts two of the hottest teams in professional sports (the Miami Marlins and the Miami Heat)… If only the Miami Dolphins were all-in like them.

Best case scenario for the Marlins this year would be Josh Johnson coming back healthy and winning the Cy Young Award, the resurrection of Hanley Ramirez after a dismal 2011 season and seeing him or Jose Reyes compete for the NL MVP award, have power hitter Giancarlo Stanton win the Home Run title and Marlins Park host its first ever Fall Classic.

Worst case you ask? Let’s not worry about that, for now that is. Marlinsanity is at an all-time high; let’s keep it that way.