Thursday, April 26, 2012

When You Bedazzle A Fish

Purdy.  Ain't it?

Some of you may find this odd but I’ve always had a special fondness for the Florida Marlins.  I remember their inaugural year of 1993 as if it were yesterday, partly because I lived in Florida at the time and was caught up in the fanfare of finally having a Major League Baseball team in my backyard.  Partly because it was the year my father passed away.  In fact we had planned on going to a few games that year, driving down to Miami which was just a few hours from where we lived in Orlando.  He had planned it to be part of my high school graduation gift. Dad and I never did get to see the Marlins together as he passed away that March, just over a week into Spring Training.    

I remember his excitement that we would finally be seeing a meaningful Mets game nearby.  One that wasn’t some meaningless match up in March, with players who had jersey numbers straight out of the NFL.  It was a moment that we shared that 19 years later I have never forgotten or wanted to, that is until I saw the monstrosity that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria had assembled this past off-season in south Florida

Donned in their new tropical rainbow Skittled colored uniforms with hues of blue, red, orange, green and yellow and black are the new Marlins.  Even Ozzie Guillen, their loose lipped manager, implied on the current season of The Franchise which airs on Showtime, that the new uniforms looked terrible.  I swear if you look at those new uniforms long enough, they could trigger seizures, especially in small children and the elderly. On their opening day of the new stadium in Miami, the players were escorted onto the field by Brazilian showgirls.  I kid you not. It was the most ridiculous thing I’ve even seen done by a Major League Baseball team.  I was waiting for Rip Taylor to jump out of the dugout and start tossing confetti at everyone.  They even carted out former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali to “throw” out the first pitch.  Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up.

Loria this past off-season went on a spending spree, with guaranteed contracts given to Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle totaling over $191 million dollars.   The last time the Marlins doled out that much cash, they won the World Series and like the great owner Loria is, he rewarded his Florida fan base by selling off his expensive players as if he were trafficking human body parts on the black market.  I shouldn’t be so hard on Loria; Wayne Huizenga did the very same thing in 1997 when he owned the Marlins who also ironically won the World Series that year. Those fickle Floridians; incidentally 57% of that original fanbase has passed away since then leaving time shares in Boca available. 

But that was then. Now Loria can boast his new tacky stadium with its fish tank backstop.  Again I kid you not.  And the piece de resistance, the sculpture…thing that was built in left center.  Designed by artist Red Grooms, this pyramid eyesore twirls and whirls pastel colored Marlins in a circular motion each time Jose Reyes flashes a smile or when the team hits a homerun.  Somewhere Abner Doubleday is flipping in his grave.

You mean I MAY not be here for my ENTIRE contract?
Look I get that the Marlins are a south Florida team, I’m not geographically challenged.  In fact when they debuted in 1993, and introduced the color teal to MLB, it was followed by many hems and haws from old school types.  I thought it was a fitting color considering the locale. But with this new incarnation of the Marlins, it seems they’ve adopted more of the South Beach club persona than anything else.  And speaking as a Met fan, as much as it was enjoyable to watch Jose Reyes play, let’s not try to make him out to be more than what he was.  He personified the fast, exciting, and energetic player but honestly not the smartest one ever to put on the uniform.  It seems quite appropriate for Reyes to have been lured into the shallow lifestyle that is South Beach.  Not that the Mets actually made him a real offer, but that’s an argument for another day. The good thing though for Reyes, he’ll never know just how big of a mistake he made leaving New York until he hangs up his cleats and finds out that in Miami, he’s just a really small fish in a huge pond.  Probably by then he’ll be touring with Pit Bull. 

Baseball just ain’t what it used to be.  Dad, you’re not missing anything although the Mets did sweep the Marlins in Reyes’ return to New York.  Gotta love the silver or teal or yellow or red or black lining.

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