Miami Dolphins: Are They Now the Least Important Team on South Beach?

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaContributor IIDecember 6, 2011

On Sunday afternoon the Miami Dolphins defeated the Oakland Raiders in convincing fashion by the score of 34-14. 

It was one of those games that even with the team at 4-8, would have dominated Miami's sports coverage in year's past. 

Miami is a football town and the Dolphins are No. 1. They were Miami's first professional sports franchise and until recently were the only ones who consistently sold out their stadium. Despite the fact that Pat Riley coached the Miami Heat from 1995-2003 and again from 2005-2008 (and won a title in the process), Don Shula is usually looked upon as Miami's best head coach. 

How times have changed down in the 305. 

The news that permeated in Miami sports on Sunday was not Miami's domination of a team that entered the day in first place in the AFC West, but instead about a team that finished fifth in their division but signed last season's National League batting champion. 

Jose Reyes and Miami Marlins were trending topics on Twitter in Miami yesterday, which is surprising because the Marlins rarely crack the trending topic list on Twitter even during the season.

But this offseason has been full of buzz thanks to a new ballpark (built with taxpayer money in a theft so egregious that the SEC is investigating the deal and the whole situation is partly responsible for Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez getting recalled), new uniforms (as ghastly they are) and the potential for the team becoming buyers during the offseason instead of sellers. 

The Marlins have done just that, and in addition to signing Reyes, have also added former Padres closer Heath Bell and are still in the pursuit of big-ticket talent such as Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle. 

Then you have the Florida Panthers, who are currently in first place in the NHL's Southeast division with 32 points, five points ahead of perennial contender Washington. The Panthers are also only five points behind Minnesota for best team in the NHL.

It's still early in the season but the Panthers have long been the most irrelevant team in Miami with their last postseason appearance coming in the 1999-2000 season when they had Pavel Bure. 

Of course tops in the market is the Miami Heat. As the favorites in the NBA this season, there's no doubt that the Heat are not only the top team in Miami, but likely now one of the top teams in the nation (at the very least they're the most hated team in the country). 

So where does this leave the Dolphins, who at best could finish 8-8 this season? 

Dolphins fans are trying to talk themselves into Matt Moore being the future at quarterback, and in a season where at times it looked like they'd get Andrew Luck, the 'Phins will likely lose out on Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, and Robert Griffin III as well.

Either one of those players could've added electricity that this franchise sorely needs, but the more success that the Dolphins have this season, the farther away they get from acquiring any of them. 

The Dolphins need to do something this offseason in order to electrify the fanbase, because by the time April's draft rolls around, the Marlins will have opened up their shiny new beacon to fleecing taxpayers and the Heat and Panthers could be right in the thick of the playoff race playing for home court/home ice advantage.

All of this while the NFL Draft becomes just something for Dolphins fans to tune in to between that night's Marlins, Heat and Panthers games that Thursday Night. 

Quite a contrast from years past when the NFL Draft was the highlight of April for Miami's sports fans. 

First the Dolphins fell from being consistently in the top two of the AFC East. 

Now, they're not even one of the top two teams in their own market. 

My how the mighty have fallen. 


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