The story of the 2012 Miami Marlins through the eyes of Marlins general manager Tony Coronado.
It was a rainy October night in Philadelphia. In the last game of the season the Florida Marlins lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in extra innings, knocking them out of the playoffs. Tony Coronado, the Marlins general manager lies on his hotel bed trying to sleep but he can’t stop thinking about that lost. His phone rings, its his boss and the owner of the Florida Marlins Jeffery Loria. Tony picks up the phone knowing that it can’t be good news.
“This has got to be the most disappointing moment in all my days as an owner.” Says Loria in a stern angry tone. “Next year we will be in a new stadium with Miguel Modelo as our new manager. I am losing my patience with you so I am giving you a seventy million dollar budget this off-season. If you don’t build a World Series championship in 2012 you will be fired. Don’t fail me again!” he yelled before he hung up the phone.
Tony lightly tosses his cell phone on his bed and looks out of his window and sees nothing but rain and lightning. With a big sigh, he goes back to bed and before he falls asleep he says to himself “seventy million eh, anything goes now.”
The next day, back in Miami, Tony Coronado parks his car and as he makes his way to the front office he finds a reporter of the Miami Herald standing besides the escalator waiting for him.
“Hey Tony” Said the reporter.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this but its good to see you” Tony replied.
“Its hard to believe that the Florida Marlins are changing their name.”
“Its necessary its time for a new era and I guarantee a World Series in the inaugural year of the Miami Marlins.”
“Really, what makes you think that?
“Because I have seventy million dollars to work with.”
That night Tony Coronado drives back to his condo and turns on the TV to watch ESPN.
“In 2011 the Florida Marlins was taking a forty million dollar payroll, lowest in the majors to their first division title in team history, that is until the Philadelphia Phillies surged in September and tied the Fish for the division and beat them in a wild extra inning game to win the division.But changes are a coming for the Marlins. First off they are moving into a brand new state off the art ballpark and are now the Miami Marlins, and now are going to be spenders. According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins 2012 payroll is projected to be in the seventy million dollar range, highest in franchise history.”
In shock, Tony quickly turns off the TV. Before he can go to bed he hears his phone beep. It’s a text from Jeffery Loria. It reads, “So apparently you’re the media’s best friend, blabbing out your budget. Remember Coronado, no World Series, no job!” Letting out a long sigh Tony gets into bed and falls asleep.
March 2012, Jupiter Florida, Spring Training.
Optimism, excitement, and hope fill the air. Fans frolic the spring training complex wearing the beautiful new bright orange pinstriped jerseys of the Miami Marlins. Fans come to hear the crack of the bat, that powerful sound of a fastball hitting the catcher’s mitt. Tony looks at the fans salivating at the 2012 roster that includes free agent acquisitions Manny Ramirez, Cliff Lee, Tori Hunter, and Ivan Rodriguez, who was with the team when they last won the World Series in 2003. He couldn’t help but let out a grin.
“Seventy million dollars gets you a lineup with more stars than New York.” Said Coronado in a conversation with the Marlins beat writer.
“The New York Yankees?” Asked the beat writer with a surprised look on his face.
“Not the Yankees, the New York Mets.”
“Isn’t great that Ivan’s back?”
“Oh man it is amazing. He has to be a sign that a third World Series will be in Miami.”
“By the way, what did you do with the remaining two million?”
“Spent it on that guy” Answered Coronado as he points to new Miami Marlins manager Miguel Modelo.
Miguel Modelo is in his second year as a major league manager, first as a full time manager, but he has managed for over a decade. He spent half a decade in Canada managing for the Edmonton Capitals in the independent Golden Baseball League, where he discovered hockey and became a die-hard fan of the Edmonton Oilers. After his time in Edmonton, he then moved to Tokyo Japan to manage the Yomiuri Giants for four years. Last year Miguel finally makes it to the majors as the bench coach for the Seattle Mariners only to take over as manager mid season and leading the team to their first playoff berth in a decade. The fans in Seattle wanted him back as the full time manager but Miguel was lured in by Tony Coronado to manage what he proclaimed as this years World Series champions.
Opening Day, Miami Florida, Marlins versus Phillies. The stadium roof is closed but the stadium is lit up with screaming, cheering, adoring fans wearing bright orange Miami Marlins shirts. The Marlins got their chance to get revenge on the Phillies. With the roar of the crowd they rush out of the dugout and onto the field. No one was more excited than owner Jeffery Loria, president David Samson, and general manager Tony Coronado as they watch their team give the Philadelphia Phillies a 15-2 beat down from their suite.
So far things were going well for the Miami Marlins. They were surging to an amazing 30-10 record, best in the majors. But things weren’t going well for the Marlins in late May. Ace pitchers Josh Johnson and Cliff Lee ended up on the 15 day disabled list and the team went on a 5-12 funk, now with a 35-22 record and tied with the Philadelphia Phillies for first place in the NL East. Tony Coronado, known for being reckless and as a loose cannon when it comes to making trades, knew he had to make a move to right the ship.
June 2nd 2012. Miami Florida, Marlins Stadium.
The Marlins are still without aces Johnson and Lee. They are entering an enduring stretch run against the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, and the New York Yankees. Tony knew he had to something fast. The Chicago Cubs are in contention for the NL Central but are in dire need of bullpen help. The Marlins have the best bullpen in baseball so Tony knew if he was going make a trade for Cubs’ ace Carlos Zambrano, who despite having a solid year is wearing out his welcome in Chicago, he would have leverage. Knowing this he calls Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
“Hello. This is Jim Hendry.”
“Hey Jim, this is Tony Coronado of the Marlins.”
“Hi Tony. I assume your calling for Zambrano.”
“Yep, and I bet you can use some good bullpen arms.”
“Give me three of your best active young relievers and you got Zambrano.”
The next day it was official The Marlins have acquired Carlos Zambrano and are ready for interleague play. But before they can think of taking on their cross state rivals the Tampa Bay Rays, they need to do something about their skid.
June 12th, St Petersburg Florida.
As the 37-30 Miami Marlins get ready to take on the Tampa Bay Rays tomorrow, Tony Coronado and Miguel Modelo have a little chat at their hotel room.
“There was a time when we were the best team in baseball.” Said Tony
“True.” Said Miguel
“Then what the hell is going on then? Why the hell do we suck now?”
“There has been a few injures to the rotation and losing my three best young bullpen arms sure didn’t help.”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t trade the closer and set up guy.”
“True but now I am now gonna have to use those guys more often now thanks to your trade.”
“You saying that you don’t appreciate having three aces on your rotation?”
“ I’m saying you made my bullpen much weaker now.”
“Well you know what?” Said Tony as he leaves the Suite. “That’s what the minor Leagues are for. I traded three rookies to get an ace. Go get three other kids”
He slams the door and makes his way back to his room. Miguel sits back in his desk, letting out a huge sigh and puts together the new lineup against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The next morning Tony calls Miguel to come down to the field. He walks into the dome known as Tropicana Field and sees Tony Coronado with pitchers Cliff Lee and Josh Johnson with catchers Ivan Rodriguez and John Baker.
“What is going on here?” Miguel asks.
“I’ll show you” Said Tony as he presents Miguel with a demonstration. He waves his two fingers, giving out a signal, and both Cliff Lee and Josh Johnson simultaneously throw fastballs at the catchers. “They’re healthy now, at full strength! We can go back to kicking ass now that we have three aces.”
And indeed they do after sweeping the Rays, the Marlins went on an absolute tear. They went back to being the best team in baseball heading into the All Star break with a record of 50 - 35. The second best team, the Philadelphia Phillies.
Things got dicey after the break, the Marlins stumbled out the gate with a 5-10 run. The main problem was the bullpen. Tony Coronado’s trade for Carlos Zambrano didn’t come cheap. By trading away three young bullpen arms for the ace has made the top guys overworked. Jeffery Loria points the blame to his general manager to the slide due to his decisions that took a toll on the bullpen.
July 29th 2012. Miami Florida, Marlins stadium.
Tony Coronado sits on his office chair and watches ESPN.
“Hello and welcome to the Trade Deadline edition of Baseball Tonight. I’m Karl Ravish along side with MLB insider Buster Olney, and Tim if you had to choose a team that is sure to make a splash in the Trade Deadline, who would it be?”
“One team that comes to mind is the Miami Marlins. The team has been struggling recently and their general manager is on the hot seat and as a guy trying to keep his job he is willing to trade away the future of the Marlins just so they can win the World Series this year.”
“Who do you think the Marlins might be going after another ace and many other closers to boost the pitching staff?”
“Matt Capps is available, Brian Fuentes is available, Jonathan Broxton is available, even Bobby Jenks and Carlos Marmol of Chicago is available so who knows how many the Marlins pick up for the bullpen. As for picking up another ace, Johan Santana of the New York Mets and Derek Lowe of the Atlanta Braves are available, and Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox and A.J. Burnett of the New York Yankees are also available if the Marlins want to be reunited with either Burnett of Beckett.”
Tony turns off the TV and grabs the phone.
July 31st 2012.
“Welcome back the Trade Deadline special in MLB Network I’m Chris Rose with Matt Williams Kevin Millar and you can’t script this any better. A.J. Burnett is coming back to the Marlins in a trade with the Yankees that would send Chris Volstad and two prospects to New York. Also Josh Beckett will join the reunion with Burnett in a trade that will send Ricky Nolasco & Andrew Miller to the Boston Red Sox. The Marlins are really going after the pennant this year aren’t they Kev?
“Oh absolutely! They are going after the World Series like this is going to be the last World Series left. Check the out the Miami rotation, Cliff Lee, Josh Johnson, Carlos Zambrano, Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett. Five aces in one rotation! Not even the Yankees had a rotation in which every starter was an ace. This team will be deadly.
“Mitch there is still something about the years Miami Marlins that has most pessimists thinking that something can go wrong right?”
“This team is built for a World Series and GM Tony Coronado is on the hot seat and will do anything that he deems necessary in order to win and save his job, but he has also shown that he is willing to throw away the youth and future of the Marlins in order to guarantee a ring for his boss. And God help Tony Coronado if the Marlins somehow don’t win it all this year.”
August 1st 2012. New York NY, Citi Field.
Tony Coronado and manager Miguel Modelo are standing by the visiting dugout as their 56-45 team warm up for a series against the Mets.
“Tell me Miggy, how does it feel to have five aces on your rotation?”
“Feels good, but you know those two prospects you sent to New York?”
“What about them?”
“I was going to call them up for my bullpen because the young arms I used to replace the pitchers you sent to Chicago were overwhelmed. You know this season rests on the health of our closer and set up guy because if they get injured, we’re screwed.”
“Theres no pleasing you.” Said Tony as he turns his attention to Jeffery Loria who his waving his index finger signaling for Tony to approach him. Tony makes his way towards his boss thinking that hes going to receive a pat on the back.
“Tell me Tony, do you remember the budget I had for you at the beginning of the year?” Asked Loria.
“I believe it was seventy million.” Said Tony as the look on his face gradually changes.
“Your right but guess what our payroll is at this moment.”
“Seventy million still?”
“Over one hundred million dollars Tony! The payroll is one hundred million dollars! We are not New York! We don’t have a hundred million dollars to spend on players! You are accountable for your decisions and if you fall you will fall hard.”
Things were going well for the Miami Marlins they were on pace for their first ever hundred win season and division title. But as his manager warned, his closer got injured and was out for the season and something had to be done before September. New York closer Frank Rodriguez has been troublesome for the Mets like Carlos Zambrano has been for the Cubs before being acquired by the Marlins. The Mets have placed there closer on waivers and Tony Coronado is desperate enough to take the bait.
“Hello?” Said Omar Minya of New York as he answers his phone.
“Hey Omar its Tony from Miami. I’m calling about acquiring your closer.”
“Frankie? You can have him we don’t want anything back.”
“That is if you didn’t pass you budget.”
“Screw that I’ll get fired if I don’t win a ring”
“Ok then he’s all yours, but be warned, there’s a reason why I have been so eager to get him off our books. If you can contain him he will be the closer he was when he set the record for saves a few years ago. I don’t think you’ll be able to do it with him, Carlos and Manny on the same team. But good luck. You’ll need it.”
The Marlins enter the stretch run fueled and ready for victory. Most experts were skeptical about the Marlins and the hot heads that were in the lineup. But no matter what the worry was it didn’t matter as the Marlins ended the season with a 105-57 record its best ever and their first division title in history.
With ease they sweep past the Arizona Diamondbacks of the West and were ready to face their rivals the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series.
October 15th 2012. Philadelphia PA. Game 1 NLCS.
After splitting the first two games of the National League Championship Series with their arch rival Phillies, the Marlins get set to prepare for game three. Tony Coronado runs down the hall of the hotel floor to catch up to his manager. Once he caught up to Miguel, he puts his hand on his manager’s shoulder to get his attention.
“I think you and I should have a quick talk.” Said Tony. Miguel, rolling his eyes agrees and is led into the nearest team hotel room.
“I hope you understand the magnitude of this series.” Said Tony.
“Did you drag me in here to tell me this?” Asked Miguel as he starts to get annoyed.
“Jobs are on the line you know, and this is against Philly. I don’t think I have to remind you of our recent history right?”
“You don’t have to tell me about the fucking rivalry. You don’t have to tell me how to do my fucking job. Shit sometimes I hope you get fired so I don’t have to deal with you. This was sure as shit not what I signed up for during the off-season. You with your fucking job security anxiety making my job a living hell. You fucking ruin the joy of being in the postseason!” Exclaims the heated Miguel Modelo as he storms out of the hotel room to rejoin his team.
After an exciting win in game three, the two teams split the next two, but the next day the Phillies would pull a shocker and win game six, forcing a highly critical winner take all game seven of the series. Back in Miami, Marlins manager Miguel Modelo stands on podium as he answers a few questions in his press conference. After going through the motions as he normally does with the press he comes across a reporter with a very interesting question. One that he cannot answer with his normal approach so he decides to go with plan B, honesty as the best policy.
“With everything that has been going on this season between you and general manager Tony Coronado, what is the likelihood that you ended feeling relived if you were to lose this game?” asked the reporter. Of course he’s not one of the local boys. This reporter works for ESPN so he was able to ask that kind of question.
“Honestly. Said Miguel, as he is about to do the verbal PR version of dropping a bomb directly on himself. I would be a little relieved because the lone bright side is that if I lose Tony would be fired and I don’t have to deal with him anymore. You heard reports at the beginning of the season that we started the season with a franchise record seventy million dollar payroll. We enter tomorrow’s game with a one hundred and ten dollar payroll now. I have three players who could’ve blown up and be an absolute PR disaster if not season killer. And I know half of these guys are going to different teams to undo the financial damage that Coronado has done. If we lose tomorrow shit fire me too.”
The entire room goes silent. Every reporter in the room, speechless. This would go down as the most shocking live press conference in history.
After a NLCS filled with controversial press conferences, bad blood, drama, and triumph, the Miami Marlins got revenge on the rival Philadelphia Phillies in an extra inning victory to vault the Fighting Fish to their third World Series in history.
They then went through six games of back and forth affairs with their cross state rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. The stage is set in Tropicana Field, the only domed ballpark left in the bigs, is about to host the most important game of the season.
Game seven of the World Series between the Miami Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays is under way. The Ramirez duo of Hanley and Manny goes deep for back to back homeruns to start the game for the Marlins. The Rays tie it in the third inning with collective small ball from the bottom of the lineup. Both Josh Johnson and David Price matched each other best up until the seventh inning when it was up to the bullpens to keep their respective team in the game. Then it came to the last showdown in the bottom of the ninth. After a homerun from Tori Hunter at the top of the inning, the Rays were down to their final out. Matt Joyce up to bat against Marlins closer Leo Nunez. The entire dome is in a ruckus. Johnson throws the fastball!
Joyce hits it!
Its flying high!
The ball’s velocity is dying, does it have enough?
Hunter is tracking it.
He’s tracking it.
The ball might hit the stands!
Hunter scales the wall.
He makes the grab and the Marlins win the World Series!!