The Miami Marlins are a fourth-place, below .500 team that has one postseason appearance since last winning the World Series in 2003.
Somehow, you could still consider them a must-watch team because of Jazz Chisholm.
First of all, his legal full name is “Jasrado Prince Hermis Arrington “Jazz” Chisholm Jr.,” which is already in the pantheon of coolest sports names in history, but Jazz is a 24 year-old phenom who was signed as an international free agent in 2016 from the Bahamas with blue hair, an Egyptian Temple’s-worth of g
old chains, and all of the superstar aura you could possibly imagine. He wears ridiculously vibrant gloves with his own custom line, including one that looks like an ice cream cone, and has a Nike Air Jordan cleat collection that NBA superstars would envy that consists of everything from neon, pink, blue, or even an Oreo cleat (because why not?). It’s the perfect vibrant energy for the city of Miami and encapsulates the scene of the town. For a team that hasn’t been winning a lot and needs an identifiable superstar to get fans in the stands, Jazz is a match made in Heaven.
It’s only his third year in the big leagues, one being a COVID-shortened year in 2020 in which he only played 21 games, and he’s put up not necessarily MVP-level statistics, but solid numbers that have grown over time and show his progression. His batting average has increased from .248 to .290, his on-base from .303 to .341, and his slugging from .303 to .341. His demeanor shows that he puts in the work to improve and learn from his mistakes
as a budding superstar on a team trying to escape the cycle of tanking to compete in a division that won’t get any easier.
But what makes Jazz so uniquely different isn’t just his play on the field or blue hair with flowing chains- it’s how he carries himself in a way with such electric energy that defies the traditionalist manner of baseball. It’s much more similar to the modern-day NBA superstar; the stars of the NBA are much more capable of marketing themselves, are much more outspoken in putting an emphasis on connecting to fans with platforms like social media or expressing themselves with sneakers, and have “1 versus 1” mentality of competitive personal swagger in a sport where there are so many circumstances of simply outmanning the other person in front of you.
Jazz has that mindset. Baseball traditionalists might think it’s cocky, but he refers to it as just being “swaggy,” and it’s good for the game. He celebrates with joy upon hitting a home run with a basketball euro-step as he trots to home plate, and he even plays a position in which it’s very similar to a basketball distributive backcourt member as a middle-infielder; he and Miguel Rojas alternating at second base and shortstop are a tandem duo that work together to feed each other and work in unison like a Golden State Warrior backcourt adjusting for defensive switches. The chemistry makes for highlight reels galore.
Upon entering the league, he was traded from Arizona for promising star pitcher Zac Gallen. In MLB, most guys know that it’s merely the circumstance of operating in a business and that Gallen has nothing to do with it, but Jazz has the ferocity to want to destroy Gallen now that the Diamondbacks passed up on him for him instead; there may not be hard feelings between the two, but Chisholm openly admitted how badly he wanted to hit a homer off of Gallen. There’s not many player-to-player rivalries in baseball, and Chisholm’s chip on his shoulder has given life to this one and made it event-viewing any time Gallen faces Miami. Gallen won the first matchup- Chisholm went 0-3 with two broken bats, but that pretty much just means it’ll be all Chisholm will be thinking about until their next matchup.
The Marlins are far away from competing in October, and somehow any time the Marlins are in a national spot, casual viewers will want to watch. Getting the casual viewers to tune in, not the ones that merely follow their local team for 162 games, is what baseball needs to expand their audience, and Jazz will bring that to the table. There will be kids buying Chisholm jerseys that may or may not have known the Marlins existed a few years ago. There will be highlights of Jazz’s aggressive base-running that go viral on social media, him pounding his chest afterwards, that draw attention to games in June that probably wouldn’t have mattered in such a long season. The positive vibes he brings aren’t just huge in the clubhouse that the team can rally around such a young, bright personality, but will grow the game.
Jazz Chisholm is another example of what baseball needs.