After months of access, Marlins in TV spotlight
New reality show on Showtime gives fans intimate view of club on and off field
MIAMI -- Full access was promised and granted, and now the rest of the world can sit back, relax and tune into the reality television version of the Miami Marlins.
The debut of "The Franchise: A Season with the Miami Marlins" will air on Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.
With their 41-44 record at the All-Star break, the Marlins may have disappointed on the field, but the drama that unfolded over the past few months certainly has the makings for riveting television.
"I don't think they had any clue with what they were in for," club president David Samson said. "This is an experience for all of us. We committed to increase and improve our brand. That's happened."
The MLB Productions crew, which is putting the series together, has followed the team on and off the field. They certainly have had plenty of material.
They have been on hand when manager Ozzie Guillen talks to the media. The cameras have been in the clubhouse with players before and after games, during intense team meetings. They were in the room when the Marlins completed a July 4 trade with the Astros for Carlos Lee.
"We promised to give them access to everything, and we delivered that," Samson said. "They're everywhere we are. They were there when we did the trade for Carlos Lee. They were there when we sent players down. They're there when we trade players, when we talk about players. They're there, off the field and on the field."
The Marlins have endured so much in the first half of the season, far too much to make it in a one-hour episode.
"It should be very interesting, because they have a lot of stuff that won't make the show, because there are too many hours of footage," Samson said. "I think the fans around world, while they're not going to see us at the All-Star Game, they're going to see us everywhere else."
The cameras were there last Saturday when Giancarlo Stanton exited St. Louis during a game to return to Miami in preparation for right knee surgery, which kept the team's lone All-Star from attending the Midsummer Classic in Kansas City.
The Marlins have undergone a makeover in 2012, moving into Marlins Park, their retractable-roof building in the Little Havana section of Miami.
The "Franchise," the team hopes, will increase the visibility of the ballclub.
"Our merchandise sales are so good around the country," Samson said. "I think the bounce you get is brand recognition, and that builds over time."
The performance on the field so far certainly has fallen short of expectations. That's resulted in attendance being 28,000 in a building that holds 37,000.
"It's hard to not be happy with averaging over 28,000 people," Samson said, "but certainly we'd rather be at 32,000 to 34,000 to 35,000 people. I think the team did not help in that regard.
"But the complaints about the park are zero. People love it. The parking is easy. The air conditioning works. Our biggest complaint is people are cold. That's a dream. Fans, not just in Miami but everywhere, want to see winning. This team is trying and never gives up. So the fans are happy to see that. We expect attendance will build."
The television exposure from "The Franchise" could certainly assist in giving the club a higher profile.