I think the baseball truism that The Franchise is inadvertently homing in on this second season is that no matter how many rainbows, tropical fish or expletive-throwing managers you may lay on a baseball team, there is no way to make losing look interesting.
The show at this point has all but abandoned the actual game of baseball, just because there’s so little of it to actually entertain the audience. One or two exciting wins mean nothing when they’re just small bright spots in strings of losing series.
So, the Marlins are rebuilding right now, and tonight’s very quiet episode focused on the many trades that the team made before the deadline. Hanley Ramirez takes "Lo Viste?" with him to Los Angeles, making a classy exit as he wishes all his former teammates and young fans well. Meanwhile, Edward Mujica tries to get a grip on the fact that he’ll be away from his baby daughter as he’s traded to St. Louis for Zack Cox, while Gaby Sanchez is traded to Pittsburgh for Gorkys Hernandez. It’s too early to see how the changes will affect the team, aside from a glimpse at new pitcher Nathan Eovaldi’s first (successful) day on the Miami mound. I’ve never been one who has had much skill at prognosticating what trades mean for teams, but based on the tone of the Miami front office, it sounds like they’ve written off the season (Miami is, of this writing, 13.5 games out of first place) and are looking towards next year. So how are the producers of the TV show going to entice us to keep watching?
The only real glimpse we got of anything other than trade talk in tonight’s episode was a closer look at Heath Bell, who’s been presented as the lovable underdog of the season, the frustrated closer who lost his job but not for lack of wanting it. Bell is likable for his good-natured personality and huggable frame (he vaguely resembles Eastbound and Down’s Kenny Powers but with better hair and the powers of good, not evil, lighting his eyes). In case you didn’t already feel for Bell prior to this episode, you’d have to have a heart of steel not to sympathize with him as he chokes up, talking about his beloved father who struggles with cancer. “I’d like to win [a World Series] before he dies,” Bell says, which is an absurd amount of pressure to put on himself, especially during a difficult season.
So, no, aside from Ozzie’s credit-rolling rant on coconut water, it wasn’t a fun-filled episode because the Marlins aren’t currently a fun-filled organization, as the hundreds of empty stands at the stadium can attest. Will the series be able to find the entertaining side of a seemingly-hopeless team? I’ll be watching, although this will be the last A.V. Club official installment, as TV Club and The Franchise will be parting ways for now. Thanks for watching with me! If you ever get bored, the White Sox are currently in first place in their division…
- The radio talking heads on tonight’s episode speculated that the Marlins were put together all wrong: so what should management have done right the first time around?
- Where’s Mark Buehrle been?