It was a perfect evening for me and Bob at Marlins Park last night. The Metrorail train was delayed a little, but once we got on it, we took it to the Culmer Street stop, caught a shuttle bus that dropped us off at the entrance to the stunning new baseball park, built on the site of the old Orange Bowl with my tax dollars, and we made it to our seats on the first base side just in time for the first pitch.
Despite this being Miami and the home field of the Marlins, the place was packed with Tiger fans. On the shuttle from the train we chatted with a couple who were both wearing Tigers caps. He was from Glen Arbor, Michigan, which is up near where I used to spend the summer, and the gang behind us in the seats were all decked out in Tiger regalia. In fact, the stadium camera crew had a tough time getting shots of the crowd for the Jumbotron where the people were wearing Marlins hats and shirts.
The new park is beautiful. They spared no expense — why should they; it was our money — in making it look like a classy place. Indeed, it looks more like a terminal at a new airport than it does a sports arena. For those of us who remember the creaky old cast-iron palaces like Tiger Stadium and Fenway Park, it may bring back a touch of nostalgia to not see the dark caverns of the upper deck concourses or the steep slopes of the bleachers or smell that inevitable and unmistakable odor that emanated from behind the wall marked MEN.
As Bob noted, it’s a lot of sensory overload, and it took real concentration to actually remember why we were there: to watch a baseball game. There’s no lack of information about who’s up, who’s pitching, what everyone’s stats are, and presumably anything else you might want to know. But they’re all posted on the innumerable scoreboards and running banners; there was no booming announcer calling the plays, and despite the sights, sounds, smells, and everything else, you actually have to watch the game.
Oh, yeah, the game. Well, the Tigers looked really good for the first five innings or so, and pitcher Anibal Sanchez was shutting out the Marlins. Prince Fielder scored on an RBI single in the fourth, and then it was back to basically three up, three down on both sides. At the top of the ninth, the score was Tigers 1, Miami 0, and all they had to do was get three men out. And in classic style — something I’ve seen the Tigers do for as long as I’ve watched them — they blew it. The bullpen was getting a real workout: I lost count of the pitchers, and when it got to the tenth, it was like they only thing the pitcher couldn’t hit was the strike zone. So when the Marlins scored in the bottom of the tenth on a single with bases loaded with men on base from walks, we laughed and left.
The trip home was just as easy as getting there. We shared the shuttle bus with three UM students, one of whom was from the Ann Arbor and in a Tigers t-shirt, and we commiserated about the loss, all in good humor.
By the way, it was raining lightly when we left the stadium. But thanks to the huge roof over the park, we were in air-conditioned comfort and not a chance for a rain delay. I can remember a lot of times when I’ve sweated through a baseball game or shivered through a football game out in the elements. Yes, baseball is an outdoor sport, but this is Miami: summers here are hot and humid, and when you get 20,000 people together in one place, it’s miserable, even at night. Playing outside in South Florida, even at the end of September where anywhere else you might want a light jacket and a cup of coffee, it’s a schvitz-fest. It was nice to be in the air conditioned comfort with the top up.
As I noted somewhere else, this was the first time I’d been to a Tigers game since 1974. If I remember correctly, the Tigers won that game.
Two other things: I really miss Ernie Harwell, and $10 for a hot dog and a bottle of water is ridiculous.