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The Undiscovered Joys of A Florida Marlins Game

August 03, 2007 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Local News  | 2 Comments

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Did you know that there is a major league baseball team playing right here in South Florida? That’s right! Not only that, word on the street is that they’ve won more World Series in the time they’ve existed than the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets combined! Nobody is quite sure exactly who they are or where they play, but I know a guy who has a cousin who says he went to a game once. But it was only to watch the Yankees, so he doesn’t exactly remember who they were playing.

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Such is the plight of our beloved Florida Marlins. In a town where people care about as much about sports as they do about the integrity of their civic leaders, the local National League club remains the worst draw in the league. Second only in the majors to our Sunshine State brothers-in-apathy, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Despite having won two world championships and consistently putting an entertaining team on the field, the Marlins are still regularly outdrawn by Friday Night Cockfighting in Hialeah. They remain the only team in baseball to play in a stadium named after a football team. And in case Marlins fans ever forgot who was #1 in this town (#1, of course, not by number of championships but by number of idiot callers on Sports Talk radio) each and every seat in their home stadium is engraved with a green and orange Miami Dolphins logo. Like the step child who always gets lousy presents at Christmas despite being smarter and better at sports than the other kids.

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As one of their few loyal fans, it makes me sad. On a recent trip to watch some Marlins road games in Chicago, I was seriously asked by several bleacher bums if I was actually a Marlins fan. When I informed them that I was, one guy literally told me “I didn’t think you people really existed. I thought those folks in the stands were just computer generated for TV!” Hardy. Har. Har, Mr. Cubs fan, because I still remember Steve Bartman.

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At any rate, while many of you may see the prospect of watching baseball in a stadium meant to host Super Bowls and Monster Truck Rallies a bit of a bore, going to a Marlins game is actually one of the best (and most economical) experiences you can have in pro sports. While a traditional “fan” of a traditional “team” like the Giants or Cardinals or Tigers, may find it odd to watch a game and have no idea what city you are in (save for the oppressive humidity), there are a lot of great things about going to a Marlins game. You just have to look at it a little differently than you otherwise might.

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THE BEST TEAM FULL OF NOBODY YOU’VE EVER HEARD OF

At the end of the 2005 season, the Marlins management decided it would be a good idea to trade away every player they had making over the federal minimum wage. Economically, this was a brilliant move as if you are last in the league in attendance with a $45 million payroll, you may as well be last with one that costs less than one of Alex Rodriguez’ shoes. And so, for the second time in their history, the Marlins were gutted and filled with a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of. The scouts like to call them “prospects.”

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Funny thing about the Marlins, though, they always know what they are doing. Every time they trade away the team, they manage to get guys in return who end up being better. It just usually takes about 6 years. So last year, when the Herald (and everyone else in sports) predicted the Marlins to be the worst team in the history of baseball, it wasn’t overly surprising when they were still competing for a playoff spot during the last month of the season. Such is this Marlins club: While not anyone’s favorite to win the World Series, they are always loaded with young talent and have the ability to beat pretty much anybody.  And in 2010, don’t be surprised to see guys named Uggla, Amezaga and Vanden Hurk hoisting a third championship trophy.

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PARK LIKE A ROCK STAR

Have you ever gone to a game in a city where the team is popular? If you are not slammed head first into the armpit of a sweaty, drunk fat guy on a slow-moving metro train, you are circling a trendy sub-downtown area for a parking spot, eventually handing over $20 to a guy who you are pretty certain is going to spend that money on crack for the rights to park two miles from the front gate.

Oh, but this is not the case at Dolphin Stadium. $10 allows you to park in any one of their acres and acres of parking spaces, ones that are typically only occupied 8 times a year. You can drive right up to the front gate without ever fighting anyone for a space. And remember when you were a kid and your dad insisted on leaving in the 8th inning because your team was down 6 and he wanted to “beat traffic?” And then you listened in the car as they came back to win? Well, that’s never a problem at Marlins games. The only traffic you have to beat is the inevitable lane shutdown on the Palmetto. But you’d sit in that no matter when you left, so there’s really no excuse to ever leave early.

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THAT SEAT NUMBER ON YOUR TICKET IS ONLY A SUGGESTION

In most stadiums where they draw enough fans that you can’t pick out individual peanut vendors during a radio broadcast, you generally have to sit in the nasty cheap seat you paid for. In some less-popular venues, you have to wait at least a few innings before you move down to a more desirable location. But at Dolphin Stadium, a $15 Fish Tank seat entitles you to plant your ass in any one of the 75,000 orange plastic recliners they offer. Not only that, but for the price of one seat, you typically get one for your ass, one for each leg, and one for each arm. That’s 5 for 1! Beat that, Anaheim Angels!

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What about ushers, you say? Well, yes, in some of the more premium sections the Marlins have decided to do their charity work and give jobs to the elderly, disabled and indigent guarding their gates. But even if you are not crafty enough to sneak by an old woman who couldn’t tell you from her grandson Pablo, or not crooked enough to bribe the inner-city teenager, you can still walk in to any other section unmolested. And if you want to move into one of those more heavily-guarded areas? Well, just walk in an entrance with no usher and walk through the rows of empty seats until you get to your desired locale.

Miamians being, well, Miamians, it is not at all uncommon for someone to show up an hour into the game and be holding the tickets for your seat. Should this happen, they will often just sit somewhere nearby rather than cause you the trouble of getting up. And even if they do make you move, there are usually 35,000 other seats to choose from.

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THE LINES AREN’T SHORT BECASUE THE FOOD IS BAD

While the good folks running the concessions did not exactly employ volunteers from Mensa to man their food stands, their complete and total incompetence is rendered irrelevant by the fact that there is never a line anywhere. So even if that Rhodes Scholar behind the counter is having a hard time distinguishing a Diet Coke from a Budweiser, their ineptitude still won’t make you miss a pitch. That’s right! If your buddies want a round of cold ones at the end of the 5th inning, you can get up, buy all of them, and be back in your seat before Dontrelle Willis has a chance to give up another home run.

In addition to food being easily obtainable, it is also pretty darned good. There is a stand that offers most of the menu from Miami Subs, a sandwich carvery, Saratoga Chips and, my personal favorite, Una Mezcla Buena. On a Sunday, when it’s 92 degrees, I know the first thing I want is a giant plate of Cuban food. And, sure enough, this wonderful stand behind section 142 offers more food than a typical restaurant portion along with chips and salsa for a mere $8. Those in the know just call it “the special,” but if you have a hankering for two pounds of picadillo as you sweat out everything you drank in the last week and a half, this is definitely your place.

STANDING IN THE PURPLE RAIN

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The Marlins, not surprisingly, have led the majors in rain delays on more than one occasion. One might say that’s what you get when you put a team in an outdoor stadium in a city where you can set your watch by the summer thunderstorms, but rain delays often offer a pleasant upside. First, if the game is delayed by more than 2 hours, by major league rules you can redeem your ticket for one of equal or lesser value (not that it matters at Dolphin Stadium) for a game later in the year. So you can once again sit through a rain delay and repeat the process. Pick the right days and you may only have to pay for one ticket all season.

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And, much like at Disneyworld, once the rain is gone you have the park to yourself. Not that you didn’t before. After a rain delay you can literally go sit in the first row behind home plate if you want to and nobody will even bother to check a ticket stub. And your chances of catching a foul ball increase exponentially. For you adventurous couples out there, rain delays provide an excellent chance to escape to a more-deserted part of the stadium so that you can spend some quality time together. Some may play cards, others may have long deep, conversation, while others may find their rain-delay best spent in the handicapped stall of the men’s room.

HEY! GO BACK TO NEW YORK!

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For some reason, people seem to like to wear their team jerseys to Marlins games. This team, however, never seems to be the Marlins. I have seen Yankee jerseys at a Marlins-Diamondbacks game and Cubs jerseys at a game against Milwaukee. Should the Marlins be playing any team from the northeast, you can expect to be able to get into it with pretty much everyone sitting around you, as you will definitely be in the minority if you are rooting for the Fish. This gives you the wonderful opportunity to point out to any fan of the Phillies, Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, Indians, Braves or any other team with a national following but little championship success, that we have two trophies to hoist and they have less. At least since 1960. This usually does little to shut them up, but still makes for great in-game entertainment.

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So if you are a fan of major-league baseball, but not a fan of crowds, there is no better place to watch a game than Dolphin Stadium. Unlike many other baseball cold-beds like Kansas City and Tampa Bay, the Miami team actually puts a good team on the field year in and year out, without soaking their fans or causing them wait in beer lines. While some may see the team as fan-unfriendly, what with their constant player trading and lack of promotional effort, I say Bravo! Marlins. Thank you for giving us the best of both worlds. Great baseball and nobody to have to share it with. Just make sure you bring your glove. With nobody else there to catch foul balls, you may end up missing some teeth if you get too involved in your Ropa Vieja.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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2 Comments on

"The Undiscovered Joys of A Florida Marlins Game"

maaaty says:

That’s great, vivid writing.  I’m sure I’ve seen you at the games!

Posted on 11/30/2007 at 1:00 AM

Name says:

Comin’ out from So Cal and while I’m in South Florida I’m going to catch a Marlins/Dodgers game. I’ll be the other guy rooting for the Marlins!! See you there!

(Mets fan / Dodgers hater)

Posted on 04/05/2010 at 2:17 PM

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