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In My Opinion


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IN MY OPINION

 

S. Florida apathy rules Opening Day

 

By DAN LE BATARD

 

[email protected]

Today is supposed to be about joy, hope and renewal, but it isn't, because we are the single strangest market in the history of Major League Baseball. The unwanted, unappreciated Florida Marlins return home for a new season this afternoon, but what greets them is something between yawns and neglect. It is -- this is not the right day for this word -- sad.

 

It's Opening Day. Capital letters. Opening. Like what you do with your gifts, with your eyes, with your heart. All across our country, parents call in sick and kids skip school on this national holiday. But here? All that gets moved are our shoulders. Like our team, up and down. So the Marlins will field the cheapest squad in the entire sport and possibly the most inexperienced team in the game's history.

 

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez sometimes finds Florida's payroll in his couch cushions. Or his butler does, anyway. Twelve major-leaguers, Rodriguez included, will earn more this season than the entire Marlins roster. Today's feeling? Imagine excited kids running up to a new neighborhood toy store and being met with a single-syllable sign. Grand Opening? Closed.

 

 

 

 

NO PRECEDENT

 

On a day of worship, we blaspheme. There is no precedent for the way South Florida treats this sport, our nation's most historic. Not any time, not any place. You will find no champion franchise that inspires this little loyalty, support, help, love. Despite the oxymoronic juxtaposition of emotions, South Florida somehow leads the league in both indifference and hostility. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig says he has never seen anything like it and that only a taxpayer-funded stadium will fix it.

 

So he has granted Marlins ownership permission to seek a new home in another city, and that explains both the distrust of the fan base and management's issue with the lopsided stadium lease: the Marlins, always renting. But in order for extortion or blackmail to work, the extorted must care. You might pay to get something beloved back. You aren't paying if someone threatens to take your toilet-paper dispenser.

 

So the crowd at today's 4:05 start against the San Diego Padres promises to be embarrassing (a stadium built and named for the local football team not even half full?) but not quite as embarrassing as the 80 home games after this one. No team this young season has won fewer games than the 1-4 Marlins. You might want to get used to that.

 

The eager Marlins will be fun to watch? No, they won't. Winning is fun to watch. The Miami Heat are plenty exciting with Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade, but watching them fall behind by 20 points against Orlando on Sunday was not fun to watch. This won't be, either. This area didn't support a champion. You think its going to support a bunch of kids trying?

 

We build two basketball stadiums less than a mile apart for a Heat team that has never won anything. But we won't support in any meaningful way a baseball franchise that has given us as many champions in the past decade (two) as tradition-rich Boston and Chicago (with three teams) have had in the past 80 years. And that's why Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, the third owner to try and fail here, insulted what little remains of his fan base while at a Marlins-Houston Astros game last week by hosting a San Antonio contingent of power players intent on stealing our team.

 

 

 

 

DESPERATE TIMES

 

Can't blame him. He is desperate, and should be. His team is going to be homeless in 2010 if he doesn't do something, and all local efforts for a new stadium are gasping like flopping fish fighting for life on a boat deck. So maybe Loria will pad stadium attendance today by hosting baseball-hungry Las Vegas. Maybe sit next to Siegfried and Roy, Wayne Newton, Tom Jones, the Blue Man Group and a dozen topless showgirls? Wouldn't be any stranger than what we've already witnessed from this franchise, which is two championships and two dismantlings.

 

And it might actually do what the Marlins can't, even on baseball's holiest day.

 

Draw a crowd.

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Guest Festa

Hey Dan,

 

Imagine if your mom had the same pissy-bad attitude you do when she found out she was carrying you. The abortion would have been within hours.

 

 

:lol :lol :lol

 

So he puts the blame on the fans and none for the politicians on the stadium front. Nice Dan. :rolleyes:

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We do have crappy fans though, can't argue with that.

 

Usually Hot, you and I are on the same page but on this we'll have to disagree.

 

The media coverage of this franchise with the excpetion of late 2003 is the worst in professional sports. The weather, rain and sun, have taken their toll on fans who have just given up on attending games at "Huizenga's Hell on Earth" venue. The high tv ratings for the Marlins should indicate that the interest is there. If ratings had gone down over the years I'd tend to agree with you but it hasn't and at least for myself, I see that as a real positive that indicates it the park not the team or the commitment by the fanbase that's at issue here.

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^ nah, no offense because thats pretty much true...but we still have crappy fans...

 

Its the same tired argument but look at New York, Boston, and Chicago...even on their worst days with no success...the fans are packed in...yes the Marlins have high TV ratings, meaning yes there are fans, but they're relatively bad fans because they never get out to the games...

 

With other fanbases, the classic line "there's always next year" always exists...with South Florida, "nobody cares about next year, and this year even less"...and THAT is a huge problem...as upset as this whole market correction makes me, and as upset as the Loria/Samson combo has made me with theyre attitude and handling of it...I hate to say this but I agree with it...its tough love but South Florida has asked for it...twice

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With other fanbases, the classic line "there's always next year" always exists...with South Florida, "nobody cares about next year, and this year even less"...and THAT is a huge problem...as upset as this whole market correction makes me, and as upset as the Loria/Samson combo has made me with theyre attitude and handling of it...I hate to say this but I agree with it...its tough love but South Florida has asked for it...twice

 

Great point, but I don't think that's the default attitude of South Florida fans. I think the trials of the Marlins fan have forced them to expect that there may not be a next year, and that if there is, we can't expect what it might entail. There are many at fault for that.

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With other fanbases, the classic line "there's always next year" always exists...with South Florida, "nobody cares about next year, and this year even less"...and THAT is a huge problem...as upset as this whole market correction makes me, and as upset as the Loria/Samson combo has made me with theyre attitude and handling of it...I hate to say this but I agree with it...its tough love but South Florida has asked for it...twice

 

Great point, but I don't think that's the default attitude of South Florida fans. I think the trials of the Marlins fan have forced them to expect that there may not be a next year, and that if there is, we can't expect what it might entail. There are many at fault for that.

That's pretty accurate. This season, I'm not think "there's always next year". I'm just hoping next year exists. Once the Marlins are guarenteed to stay here, it'll be a lot easier being a Marlin fan.

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The real reason you can't compare Boston and Miami from a fan perspective is because at Fenway 80% of the seats go corporately and so (retail, you and me type) fans have to fight over what's left.

 

It's exactly the scenario the Marlins are trying to achieve where they are finally allowed to sell to the 100 largest corporations in South Florida in a much smaller park (38,000) and with many fewer seats available fans will have to start buying season ticket packages or risk the inabaility to get tickets without going to a scalper.

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