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The Miami Marlins opened the MLB regular season in the most predictable way they could, with showgirls escorting each player onto the field, one on each arm with fireworks and the gaudiest homerun sculpture on earth. New uniforms, new stadium and a slew of high-priced players sparkling the night like the thousands of flickering flashbulbs.
But when it came time to play, the priciest team in club history couldn’t buy a hit, turning St. Louis Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse into Bob Gibson for seven innings. The Marlins avoided being no-hit on opening day, but fell 4-1 in front of a packed house. The Marlins were penciled in as 9/1 favorites to win the National League pennant, according to Bovada MLB Futures odds.
Mind you, there are still 161 games to go, and baseball clearly ran a close second or third to all the hysteria leading up to the game. The stadium screams fun, excitment and Miami flavor. But if the Marlins don’t inevidably achieve something, taxpayers will have funded a fun, funky team that doesn’t seem to function well. Much like their homerun…thing.
“The taxpayer is on the hook for the stadium,” said Norman Braman, a local billionaire told the Washington Post. “I hope for the sake of the taxpayer the team is successful.”
For gamblers, the safe bet is still on the Philadelphia Phillies, a 9/4 favorite to win the pennant despite being ravaged by injuries this Spring Training. They still have the best rotation in the National League and experience in the playoffs.
Heck, the Marlins aren’t even the second-best option in their own division. That would be the Atlanta Braves (9/1), who are pinning their hopes on Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman to finally reach stardom.
In fact, the Marlins are entering a new era at one of the worst times with the emergence of the Washington Nationals. There isn’t a team in the NL with more potential than the Nats with Stephen Strasburg returning from Tommy John surgery to lead a rotation with Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Edwin Jackson. Washington is a 15/1 underdog to win the pennant, but clearly has the biggest upside of any team in the East.
Still, as mentioned, it’s game one and there’s still a lot of time to go.
“If I was a fan, I’d still come and watch these guys play,” manager Ozzie Guillen said.
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