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The final episode of Showtime's miniseries "The Franchise" will air a week earlier than originally expected. Instead of airing the eighth and final episode of the series following the Miami Marlins this season on August 29, the episode airing Wednesday (August 22) will close the series.
The Palm Beach Post first reported the change on Saturday. Showtime has not shared its reason for cutting the series short, but it is clear that the team's struggles played a significant role in the decision. The Marlins were expected to compete for a playoff spot before the season started, but stumbled in June and currently sit in last place in the NL East, 12 games below .500.
"There was an option to do more but given the state of our season, it was decided that the original 8 would suffice," Marlins president David Samson told the Post via text message.
Showtime aired a special episode of "The Franchise" in April following the controversy surrounding manager Ozzie Guillen's comments about Fidel Castro. That, combined with the six episodes already aired plus Wednesday's seventh episode, mean the team has fulfilled its contractual obligation with the network.
One cannot fault Showtime for betting on the Marlins to be a ratings boon. Before the season, many pundits and analysts predicted the team would at least compete for a Wild Card spot in the NL playoffs, if not win its first ever division title. The Marlins added free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell to its young core of Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Josh Johnson.
Combined with the opening of the team's new stadium in Little Havana and hiring of the outspoken but charismatic Guillen as manager, the team seemed like a sure thing to produce ratings gold for the premium cable network.
At the end of May, the Marlins were 10 games above .500 and leading the NL East, and everything seemed to be going as planned. Then the team went 8-18 in June and fell out of the pennant race, triggering a chain of events that would lead to the trade of Ramirez in July.
The team also traded away pitcher Anibal Sanchez and second-baseman Omar Infante in July, signaling that it had given up on the 2012 season in order to revamp the roster for 2013. It was only a matter of time before Showtime would give up on the team's 2012 season as well.