Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Why Hate The Fish?

Ok, I know it's not baseball season, nor is it close to baseball season. But something is bugging me. ESPN has started previewing the upcoming baseball season in a multi-part series called Hot Stove Heaters in an attempt to get fans prepared for baseball. Normally this is not a bad thing. Should be a good thing, right? Well, this year ESPN has decided the Florida Marlins are public enemy number one. I don't know why, but three articles in the last three days have bashed the Marlins in some way, shape, or form. I have never seen anything wrong with rooting for the underdog Fish, especially when they beat the Yankees in 2003. So ESPN, why all the Marlins hate?

In their opening salvo against the Marlins franchise, ESPN writer Tim Kurkjian called Dolphins Stadium "the worst ballpark in the major leagues". Kurkjian's logic is that because of their lack of attendance, the Marlins stadium is worse than any other. First, let me be up front, I have been to Dolphins Stadium. I went to the Marlins' home opener Opening Day 2004, right after they won the World Series. So although I have never seen the ballpark empty, I was there. But to insult the facility because of lack of attendance is a faulty premise. Keep in mind for many years the Cleveland Indians could barely fill a quarter of Municipal Stadium, their much older, colder, more empty, caverous "mistake by the lake".

Granted the Marlins could use a new stadium, preferably with a retractable roof, but in my opinion, Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bays Devil Rays, is the worst stadium in baseball. True, its cozier dimensions give the appearance of higher attendance because the few fans there are not as spread out, but baseball is not meant to be played indoors. Period. Watching a game at "The Trop" is like watching a game in a musty basement. It doesn't feel right. Add the fact that Tropicana Field was once home to the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, and you can see why baseball doesn't fit there. Contrary to Mr. Kurkjian's ideas, lack of attendance doesn't make something horrible, the facility itself makes it horrible.

After Mr. Kurkjian's claim against the Marlins, writer Phil Rogers discusses the city of Portland's attempt to have the Marlins relocate to the Pacific Northwest. Insulting the stadium in which they play is one thing, but to promote the moving of the franchise because of the lack of attendence is a slap in the face to the many fans of the Marlins, of whom I know do exist. Once the Florida legislature finally approves of a workable deal and the Marlins can get their new stadium, they will be fine. Hopefully the new stadium will be in a location that will be convenient for both the citizens of Miami and the purchasing power of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The franchise just needs a legislative hand, not a moving truck.

The third attack against the Marlins was minor and perhaps true, but considering ESPN's previous comments, enough is enough. In Paul Lukas's newest Uni Watch article, he rates the Marlins' uniforms a two out of five. Ok, that they may be, and maybe I am getting too defensive about a team that I only occasionally root for, but it's the principle. Stop hatin' on the Marlins.

Now I am not saying everyone should jump on the Florida Marlins' bandwagon, but no one discusses moving the Royals or the Pirates. Or even dare suggests combining the two aforementioned pitiful franchises and having them play in Oklahoma City or any other third site. So ESPN, how about showing the Marlins a little respect? They do have the best young pitching staff south of Detroit. With Cabrera, Willis, and the rest of the young talent in South Florida, I see playoffs by 2010.