First of all, let me wish you a happy Leap Day. It is always nice to have an extra day in the year, no. Is it just me, or is it weird to see them as the Miami Marlins? I typed in Florida in the title but then had to erase it, and this coming from a person that saw the preliminary sketches of what is now the Marlins logo in the Summer of 2010 (it’s sort of a longish story, but I met the “Director of Creative Services”, Alfred Hernández, or at least that is what it say on his card,and he was/is in charge of the Marlins logo and authorizing its use anywhere. It was through a program I’ll mention later on in the entry.) So why am I writing the Marlins’ entry on this day? That would be because March is National Optimism Month and I want to get all my pessimism out before then. Most of it surrounds this $650 million beaut:
Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, Cahd Gaudin, Wade LeBlanc, Aaron Rowand, and Carlos Zambrano.
Chris Volstad, Burke Badenhop, John Baker, Mike Cameron, Clay Hensley, Jose Lopez, and Brian Sanches.
Why?: Yeah, yeah, I know that the Marlins gained a bunch of talent and lost essentially nothing. I agree that based just off of talent, their grade should be higher. Let me also set the records straight that I have nothing against the Marlins they are one of the middle-of-the-pack to front-of-the-pack teams when it comes to favorite teams with me. Now that we’ve gotten these things established, here is the real reason why I gave them the grade I did.
The Marlins’ plan as I interpret it is: get a bunch of players and hope it attracts a big crowd. There is some merit to this. First of all, Dolphins Stadium or whatever the heck you want to call it, is the equivalent of the Medowlands to New York in that it is fine to get to for a weekly event such as a football game, but it is 35 miles north of downtown Miami, so it was a pain in the neck to get to. Secondly, the new stadium is a much nicer one from what I saw while I was in Miami and the location also has the side effect of playing more towards the baseball-oriented Cuban residents that reside in the City closer to the new stadium (which happens to be the old Orange Bowl site).
However, the Marlins have a couple things that could mess this whole experiment up. First, the Marlins ticked a LOT of people off when they asked for public funding for the stadium. I personally know a couple Miami natives that just refused to go to games the last two seasons for this simple fact. Second, the Marlins got a lot of money from Miami-Dade County to fund their stadium (the total cost of the stadium was around $650 million and Miami-Dade raised about $500 million by selling bonds to help pay for the stadium. That’s almost 80% (76.9 is close enough, right?). I was in Miami for a three week course in Sports Administration a the University of Miami right when it was announced most of the stadium would be publicly funded. So, in addition to looking at how people in South Florida fudge the numbers to convince committees to let them hold the Super Bowl there so often, we also looked at how skewed the numbers the Marlins were using to convince the county to help fund the stadium. Now of course we weren’t using the real numbers, but we were estimating using numbers we did now, and if those number held any truth, the numbers were fudged quite a bit to convince people they needed help with the funding. Interestingly enough, it was announced December 3rd that the SEC would be investigating the Marlins’ use of public funding to build their new stadium. Unless the Marlins can come up with some clever way around this, they will in all likelihood be punished. How much? I have no idea, but the numbers do not stack up well in their favor, let’s put it that way. Lastly, the Marlins are assuming their newfound players will result in a winning team. However, they did only win 72 games last season good for dead last in the NL East, so I don’t know if they are as automatically in contention as everyone thinks. They may very well be, but the Nationals are also on the rise, the Braves have a good young foundation that will probably get better, and the Phillies are the Phillies. So it might not be the case that they win for the foreseeable future (and have high attendance figures) like they are expecting.
Predicted Record Range: 85-90 wins Let’s see, this would mean they added 13-18 wins in the offseason. This is a big jump. I’m not so sure about this prediction.
Remember that I went to the game in May and it got cancelled. Well, it was rescheduled for this day in July and it looked fine:
Not as good as it did the day it got cancelled but not horrible rain-away-batting practice bad.
When I got to the gate I noticed something odd:
Do you see the gates marked by the arrows? I have never seen them before. I know I haven’t been to Citi Field in over a month but it was just weird seeing them. I know the purpose is to corral people even more and it is a good idea but I wonder why they hadn’t done it sooner. Also upon arriving, I wondered if my ticket from the initial game would work:
Initially, I was somber because going to this game reminded of the initial game in which I am now comfortable (with all the hecktivity gone) announcing that the responsibilities I was lifted of were those of taking care of my ailing dad. On that day May, 17, 2011 my father passed away.
What game? I was the first one to the left field bleachers beating all the other ballhawks in attendance (four according to mygamebals.com). I got Mookie Wilson to toss me a ball within the first minute. I first asked him if he could toss me a ball and he told me no but then tossed it up anyway after I said that it was ok and thanked him “anyway”. That is now the second time i have used the “can you toss me a ball please” line and that exact same scenario has occurred. The last time was in Miami. Here is a diagram of where I was and the flight of the ball:
The solid arrow is where I was and the dotted is how he threw me the ball. In retrospect, he was probably about five feet from the ball but whatever, you get the idea.
As the ballhawks arrived, I moved over to the empty center field section and running down the stairs, yelled out to Ryota Igarashi in Japanese for a ball. The next picture shows how the whole thing unfolded:
The names are pretty self-explanatory. The solid line is how far he went to shag the ball. The two dotted lines are what happened afterward. He liked my request so much we played catch for as many throws as it took me to fall into the seats. You see when I throw a baseball I have a longer stride than most people and that produces my right leg (I’m a righty) to come up after the pitch every time I want to get something behind the ball. If you look carefully behind the word “me” you will see there is a railing. Since I was on the right side of the railing, that cuts the aisle in half and made me make the choice of falling off a lot into the seats on my left, smacking my leg into the railing, or throw very slowly. I was going to go with the third but when I lobbed the ball into him and he made the hand gesture saying it was ok I tried to throw my slider but because the aisle was so narrow not only did the ball have no movement as I fell into the seats but I bounced it to him. I think he knew then to stop and called it of. Still, it was a great experience.
I moved over to right field in hopes that those players shagging there would toss me a ball but it didn’t take long to figure out they had seen me play catch with Igarashi. I moved back over to Left for Marlins bp.
But first, I want to show you one of the motifs of Mets bp:
If you can’t see the screen in front of 2nd base is down. Throughout the duration of bp it kept falling down. There wasn’t that much wind. I have had days were it was gusting circa 20 mph and the screen didn’t blow down. I don’t know I guess it’s just the Mets way of life.
As I got to left field and saw the first two batters I knew it was the big group:
Those hitters are (from left to right): Hanley Ramirez, John Buck, Mike Stanton, and Mike Cameron. I think if you take any two of them it is a pretty good time to be in left field but all four of them and you have a super group. I cannot think how good the left field seats in Sun Life Stadium would be this year if it opened 2.5 hours early. That said, I only got one ball from this group. I stayed back because of their power and it paid off when a ball bounced a few rows in front of me and I ran up an aisle an grabbed it off the paved steps:
When I look at it now it was hit pretty far. Guess who hit it. Mike Stanton. Of course that was not the only thing he hit:
In my 20+ games at Citi FieldI have never seen a player hit the Amtrak club. I am surprised that someone had not hit it sooner but not surprised it was Stanton to do it. Before I get too off topic, I want to mention I gave the Stanton ball to a kid who was chasing after me:
I can’t exactly tell if that is him in the stripes as I remember his face more but considering this is the only photo of its ilk…
I then convinced Randy Choate to toss me a ball in left field. After that I moved over to center field and got Brian Sanches (no that is not a typo) to toss me a ball in the corner spot. For those who don’t know, a corner spot is a place in a section where there is no possibility of anyone being in front or to one side of you because you are in the very first row and to the extremity of that specific section. Now the corner spot is not in this picture but it just demonstrates what happened:
Sanches is number 44 in that picture.
I then, as you can probably tell from the previous picture, moved over to right field in hopes of Mike or Mike (Stanton, Dunn) to throw me a a ball. I didn’t want to be recognized by Sanches who was not that far away so I sat down on the steps near the wall. The steps are so steep that I could sit down and still barely see over the wall:
Eventually a lefty hit a ball to the wall. Mike Dunn went to retrieve it but gave it to a kid much smaller than me. However, a second ball came and since I had made my presence know on the first ball he threw me the second ball:
That was it for bp. I stayed in left field for the game. Both center fielders were occasionally throwing their warm up balls into the stands but I didn’t get any as I was always one staircase away. I am pleased to announce however, Observing Baseball is going green:
I have now been using the promotional Earth Day Metrocard since Earth day itself.
- Six balls at this game (five pictured because I gave one away)
- 79 balls in 22 games= 3.59 balls per game
- 47 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 23 straight at Citi Field
- 4 straight games with at least 5 balls
- 6 balls* 32,411 fans=194,466 competition factor
- Time at game 4:36-10:19=5 hours 33 minutes