As a team, the Miami Marlins of The Franchise already resemble the Giants of season one: They are frustrating fans with inconsistency, stricken with injuries, and providing an inspiring boost to minor league players who come up to replace those on the DL. As a TV show, though, I think Showtime has a better sense of how to make an episode work this season, even when the team is in the doldrums. Tonight’s episode focuses on the period right before, during, and after the All-Star break and switches up nicely between a few storylines.
The team’s lone All-Star representative, Giancarlo Stanton (who looks like a leaner version of The Rock), has to miss the game and the home run derby for arthroscopic knee surgery, to which the show is given liberal access. If you ever wanted to know what the free-floating cartilage they pick out of your joints looks like, it resembles those gross not-bone-but-not-meat rubbery bits you encounter at the ends of a fried chicken leg. Meanwhile, base-stealer Emilio Bonifacio is also on the DL for a bum hand. “Bonnie” gets the credit for the teams “Lo Viste?” tagline and hand gesture, which would be a pretty sweet move—as long as the team’s over .500. Yeah, we saw that… now can you win some games?
On the plus side, minor league journeyman Justin Ruggiano has finally broken through and is enjoying a great season with the Marlins, and he’s got the supportive wife and adorable kids that always seem to accompany these feel-good stories. I am jealous that Ruggiano and family get special access to the dolphins at the Miami “Seaquarium,” which I think is like an aquarium but with fish?
I hope the show doesn’t try and make Logan Morrison happen as the Marlins’ Brian Wilson, though. Morrison seems to want to be a Wilson, all wisecracks and tweeting and self-deprecating jokes and testicles on the camera. But there’s an element of try-hard about him. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing appealing about compulsive Twitterers. Or perhaps it’s because Morrison seems like he’s trying to convince us (by telling, not showing!) that he’s the funny one. Or maybe it’s because he just doesn’t have the walk to back up the talk. “You tweeting and you losing, you a fucking ass,” Ozzie points out before putting Morrison through his paces. The thing is, though, for TV purposes, I don’t mind it if one of the Marlins is a bit of a tool. It wouldn’t be fun if all the players were handsome quiet heroes.
With the Marlins 41 and 44 right around the break, they’re not looking great. Heath Bell is about to lose his spot as the team’s closer (I feel bad for him, as he says “I think the team’s doing great; I think I suck.”) The general future of the team looks shaky. “We’re not in, we’re not out, we’re languishing, and that’s the story of the season,” says team president Larry Beinfest as they ponder the trade deadline. At the end of the episode, Ozzie tries to get the team riled up. We all know though that speeches don’t really do dick for a team, unless of course they’re just lucky enough to occur right before a hot streak.
- It’s cute how Giancarlo Stanton and José Reyes call each other “mama.”
- I did like seeing Morrison turn into a dorky fanboy around both Derek Jeter and George Brett.