Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Six Reasons to go to Marlins Park in 2013

It's easy to get swept up in the anger that's being directed toward Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and conduct a personal boycott of the Miami Marlins. But I've lived my life as a contrarian. For example, I don't call what Loria did in trading away several big name players a fire sale. That diminishes the expression "fire sale." To me a fire sale is what H. Wayne Huizenga did when he broke up a World Champion ball club. Loria broke up a mistake. But that's not what I'm here to write about today. I want to tell you the reasons why I won't be boycotting the Marlins and why I'll probably be going to more games this year than last.

1. It's baseball and this is my hometown. My favorite sport is college football and pro baseball is very, very close second. Since my Gators play in Gainesville I don't get many chances to go up for a game. And when I do it requires major planning and expense not to mention the investment of an entire weekend. For decades Miami had no Major League Baseball team. Now we do and I enjoy the sport, period.

2. The ballpark. You can say that Marlins Park is gaudy and that you don't like certain elements of it but you can't deny that it's a HUGE improvement over the previous digs. The temperature is controlled, you shouldn't get wet (malfunctions of the roof notwithstanding), the sight lines are great, the food is actually pretty good. Besides, as many angry fans have said, it's our ballpark, we built it (with tourist taxes, but we built it). Why shouldn't we enjoy it?

3. The players. Lost in all the controversy about the organization is the fact that there will be 25 guys in uniform on opening day. Some are known commodities like Giancarlo Stanton, others are works in progress like Steve Cishek and still others are complete unknowns with the ability to perhaps surprise and delight. One thing is for sure there are no overpaid overhyped hot air bags like Hanley Ramirez or Heath Bell on this squad. That alone is reason to like the 2013 Marlins more than the 2012 version.

4. The competition. Maybe the Miami Marlins aren't really your thing. Well this season's schedule serves up the usual divisional rivals who have many fans in our community like the Phillies and the Mets, other National League teams with big fan bases like the Cubs and Cardinals as well as American league teams including state rivals Tampa Bay and as little seen Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota.

5. The price. It's still probably the best bargain in professional sports. Dollar for dollar you aren't going to beat the experience of a major league baseball game, in the cheap seats, in comparison to other sports.

6. By staying away from the ballpark you perpetuate the vicious cycle we've been subjected to by lowering team revenues and thus any chance of increasing payroll to re-sign our young stars or to add help should the team catch lightning in a bottle and be surprisingly better than expected. I know a lot of people think this is all the owner's fault but over the life of this franchise there have been a lot of fans disguised as empty seats if you know what I mean, even last year in the new ballpark with all those big names. The key to future stability will be a sizable and loyal fan base that attends with regularity.

I know these reasons won't change many minds in this environment of hate and distrust. And I know people will say I'm shilling for nasty and greedy owner. It's OK, I'm a big boy. The criticisms don't change the facts that I've listed above. I have nothing to gain by defending Loria or the Marlins organization. I'm just a fan of my team and will be long after Loria and all these players are gone.

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