MIAMI, FL - A general view of the new Marlins Ballpark shot throught a fishtank behind home plate during a game between the Miami Marlins and the University of Miami Hurricanes at Marlins Park (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Thanks to a FanFest and an exhibition game against the Miami Hurricanes, there are a lot of pictures out there now of an almost-completed Marlins Park. Here are some first impressions ...
It's 594,301 times better than the dilapidated, multi-purpose monster the Marlins used to play in.
That's the only thing that matters. You can see the early returns on this Flickr page. We've had our fun with the home-run structure -- oh, here, here, here, and here -- and it still looks like something that would appear on your TV after spilling milk on your Nintendo during a game of Battletoads. But we'll get used to it, just as we did with the animatronic apple in Shea Stadium, or Rusty the Mechanical Man in San Francisco.
No, wait. Fans booed Rusty out of existence. But there's still a 825-foot Coke bottle in San Francisco beyond the left-field wall. There's a slide in the middle that kids can go down, thinking thoughts of glorious, glorious consumerism during their descent. Coke! And no one makes a peep about it anymore because we're used to it.
So we've had our laughs. And when they start the season, we'll have more laughs. We have to laugh. It reminds me of one of my favorite passages from the Bible:
Anytime I see something screech across a room and latch onto someone's neck, and the guy screams and tries to get it off, I have to laugh, because what IS that thing?!
Yes. But even before a game has been played, before the structure has been set in motion, I'm almost used to it. And even worse, I'm almost starting to appreciate it, not unlike the good folks at Amazin' Avenue. It's Miami's middle finger to the world -- an art-deco hand gesture that you can see from space. Even if it's hard to love, you can appreciate that it makes sense in a regional context. This is Miami, it says, flamingos, kitsch, and all. Joe Robbie Stadium says something more like, "I wouldn't try the hot dogs if I were you. No, seriously, trust me." The new stadium is an improvement in every way.
I'm not a fan of the green background in the outfield, and blue seats take some getting used to. There's supposed to be a pool in there at some point, which will always be a hopelessly gimmicky touch.
But everything else looks great. There's some Miami skyline visible beyond the outfield, an interesting combination of deep fences and limited foul territory, and a super-fancy scoreboard in center. The fish behind home plate are even a cool touch -- I can't wait until a closer blames a blown save on a jittery sunfish.
Reminder of the competition:
Soulless. Bland. Boring. Decrepit. Look at the left-field scoreboard. That was state-of-the-art technology in 1986, and they just slapped it onto a football stadium. Now the Marlins and their fans will have something for baseball and only baseball. That's a lot more important than some stupid structure.
Again, the structure is stupid. Don't think we're going soft on it, now. But it's their stupid, and I'm happy for Marlins fans.
The worst part about the stadium has to do with the fiscal shenanigans it took to get the place built at the expense of Miami-Dade taxpayers, but that's just nitpicking over hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that probably could have been put to better use. Just look at that picture of Joe Sun Pro Land Player Life Player Robbie Shark Stadium Park again! Truly abysmal. Something needed to be done.
The home-run structure has been good for a few chuckles, but the real news is that one more horrible multi-purpose stadium is down. There are only two left. This is an improvement in just about every way. Congratulations, Marlins fans.