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Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: September 19, 10:10 AM ET
No. 120: Miami Marlins

By Doug Mittler
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 67
Title track: 51
Ownership: 122
Coaching: 110
Players: 114
Fan relations: 121
Affordability: 88
Stadium experience: 103
Bang for the buck: 107

The team that was built to win now promptly became one that hopes to win later as the big contracts of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson were shipped to Toronto in November. That didn't sit well with South Beach fans suddenly accustomed to winning teams (see: the Miami Heat). The result was a 53-point plummet to 120th overall, the worst of any MLB team, and the ownership group headed by Jeffrey Loria, which shed $60 million in payroll, ranks dead last of all professional teams. One fan who showed up on Opening Night said it best with a shirt that read: "Marlins baseball: helping other teams get better since 1998" -- a reference to the franchise's first roster purge after a World Series triumph.

The Marlins were the only franchise to turn to Groupon to fill seats for their first home game, and the novelty of two-year-old Marlins Park has nearly worn off. The average attendance is only about 800 fans greater than it was in the last year of SunLife Stadium in 2011. So while that exotic home run sculpture in center field may be a conversation piece, it can't distract from the Marlins' 85-point plunge in the stadium experience category. To the club's credit, there are plenty of promotions to get fans to the park, from free tickets for active and retired military personnel, veterans, first responders and military civilians on Monday home games to all-you-can-eat specials and fireworks Fridays. "We recognized what would happen. We needed to find a way to get fans back into the park and to be more aggressive," marketing VP Sean Flynn says. Here's another strategy: Bring in some talent and win some games.