As this season ramped up, there was an outrageous amount of expectations and excitement surrounding the Marlins. There were promises of exciting play and terrific players. There was a proven winner in Ozzie Guillen at the helm, and superstars like Jose Reyes were ready to fulfill dreams fans had been waiting years for.
The Marlins were no longer the visitors in Joe Robbie Stadium, or whatever it is called now. They had Marlins Park. At long last they had their identity.
The opening of the park and the unveiling of the new look team brought about terrific predictions. This author picked them to win the World Series, clearly getting swept away in the preseason hype.
The dizzying expectations reminded me of the opening of The Phantom Menace. I saw it midnight opening night at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York. While I was not dressed in character, the line was filled with fans ready to reclaim their childhoods after waiting 16 years for another Star Wars movie.
Everyone had seen the great advertising clips from the film. Some of us bought tickets for other movies just to see the preview. George Lucas was at the helm again. Stars like Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor were going to be in it. There was a double edged lightsaber!
Like the Marlins season, how could it possibly go wrong?
The Marlins season did not start well and quickly sunk into losing streaks and Ozzie Guillen controversies. But many of us glossed over that, blinded by the excitement of what could be.
Similarly, being in the cheering atmosphere of The Phantom Menace opening night crowd made me more forgiving of the holes in the movie. It took me months to admit it was actually no good.
The Marlins, as in denial as I was about the Star Wars movie, were still trying to mend the team together in July, when they made the Carlos Lee deal.
But eventually the truth was inevitably clear for both movie and team: the Marlins season was a bust, and so was The Phantom Menace.
Heath Bell was as bad as the little kid who played young Anakin Skywalker. Ozzie Guillen was as out of control as George Lucas.
The Marlins dumped their players and we film goers went to see The Sixth Sense and The Matrix instead of shelling out money to see podracing.
Now the Marlins stadium is almost empty and the team is playing out the string. It is sad as the stadium still looks and sounds like that great exciting place from April. There are still fish swimming behind home plate.
Yet it feels stale and one can't help but wonder how we all fell for it.
It reminds me of when I gave The Phantom Menace one more chance at a three dollar bargain theater. It was empty and all of the spots in the film where there was cheering that opening night were now silent.
Perhaps we should have known ahead of time about both. Looking at it now, the dancing Marlin Statue was baseball's answer to Jar Jar Binks.