The new Miami Marlins owners are likely to remove the gaudy, 60-foot tall home run sculpture, according to Jon Heyman, and you should be devastated. The gory details:
One thing someone connected to the Jeter group has suggested will likely go: the home run sculpture in left-center field that was designed by artist Red Grooms and has been the subject of controversy.
Hopefully, this is just the idle speculation of someone who hasn’t even seen the thing in person. Hopefully, this is just someone who believes his business card gives him or her the unilateral authority to suggest such a thing. We don’t have a name attached to the proposal. We don’t know what Derek Jeter thinks. We doing know anything except for the second-hand note that “someone connected to the Jeter group” maybe isn’t the biggest.
Because at the risk of being solipsistic, this might completely ruin my brand. More so, even. I enjoyed being the Howard Cosell to the sculpture’s Muhammed Ali, poking and prodding, partly skeptical and mostly a true believer, as I used way too many words to describe this gift to the world. Really, we should be concerned about the people most affected by this. Namely, me.
EDITOR: Grant, real quick, I was just checking the standings, and did you realize there are 10 possible playoff teams in the American L
What will happen to my metaphor? What will happen to my precious words?
In 75 years, the Home Run Sculpture will be iconic. It will be a destination. the ballpark will be ancient and adored, and people will walk into this classic piece of Americana, walk through the tunnel to get to their seats and see it in the distance, with 80 years of weather and air conditioning aging it more than a touch, but in the most charming way possible. A father will put his arm around his son or daughter and just stare.
And, fine, I guess the Marlins and their fans might possibly be affected by this. It’s only fair to note that the majority of sports fans hate the home run sculpture.
But that question was posed to a national audience, and I’m telling you, the thing grows on you. Here’s what Marlins Park looks like without it:
That looks like a domed stadium with windows on the side, which is better than a domed stadium without windows on the side, but just barely. That’s a stale ballpark. New, clean, and stale.
Restore it to its natural state, then.
There’s no mistaking where you are. It adds scale to the cavernous park. It adds a landmark. It takes it from, “Watching baseball in a dark stadium with a retractable roof that wouldn’t be opened if it were 72˚ and zero percent chance of rain” to “Hell yeah, Marlins Park, let’s see Giancarlo Stanton break one of those stupid flamingo beaks off with a 110-mph dinger.” It’s exactly the kind of spice the ballpark needs to stand out.
Have you ever stopped to think about just how stupid the Mets’ Home Run Apple is?
PETE: Got an idea for the new stadium, Carl. Gonna put in a home run apple.
CARL: A home run apple, eh? Reckon it’ll be the size of an apple.
PETE: Nope. It’s gonna be a big apple. The size of two elephants.
CARL: A big apple, you say?
PETE: To celebrate the Big Apple. And it’s going to pop out of a top hat whenever there’s a home run.
CARL: A gigantic apple popping out of a gigantic top hat. Are there words on the top hat with the home run apple?
PETE: There are. “Home Run,” the words will read.
CARL: I can see it now. This is completely normal and definitely not stupid.
It’s not aesthetically different from the Cubs putting a gigantic inflatable dancing car dealership thing in right-center to celebrate the Windy City. Whooooosh, look at those suckers go whenever Kyle Schwarber hits a home run, ha ha! It sounds ridiculous, but it’s not stranger than a gigantic apple emerging from a top hat like Cthulu from the briney deep. We’re just used to it. See what will happen when Mets owners buy the team from Gxys Wilpon in 2494 and threaten to take the apple away. It’s not going to be taken lightly.
Without the Marlins sculpture, it’s incumbent upon the new owners to figure out a new brand for the team and the stadium. We all should have known this was coming, that the first order of business would be to de-weird the Marlins. But there’s a difference between an ownership group undoing the sins of the previous owners and the new guys coming in with a sledgehammer and turning the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow into Jim Rose’s Face Painting and Bouncy House Emporium. Is the plan to completely button the team down? If that’s the case, they’ll need to get rid of the fish tank behind home plate and the making-of-Star-Wars-bonus-features green around the ballpark. They’ll need to get rid of these guys:
They’ll need to get rid of everything that makes the park unique, because otherwise they’ll only be a quarter-weird, the Hot Topic shirt of baseball. Just strange enough to make you furrow your brow, not strange enough to elicit a chuckle. Not strange enough to stand out and have a purpose in life.
In a just and pure world, a division rival would purchase the sculpture and repurpose it to cheese off the Marlins. The Nationals could have spinning eagles and American flags. The Phillies could have a Phanatic-themed sculpture. The Mets could make the whole thing out of apples. The Braves could put ... actually, let’s not see what the Braves would slap on there. But if the Marlins sculpture is going away, it needs to survive somewhere. Like the Hall of Fame. Or Marc’s house.
Again, this is all premature. Heyman is a fine reporter with plenty of contacts, but this is still just one anonymous source close to the new ownership group. It might be that Derek Jeter gets to tour the inside of the thing and suddenly understands it. It might be that the new owners talk to the fans and realize they enjoy watching baseball clarnk off it in batting practice and in games. Or maybe Jeter watched baseballs pepper it during the Home Run Derby, fell in love just like most of us, and hasn’t had time to seek this sculpture-hater out to set him or her straight.
If it goes, it goes, and there will still be nine innings played at Marlins Park every day, give or take. The foul lines will still meet at a 90-degree angle, and the balls will still be home runs when they go over the fence. But it won’t be the same Marlins Park. It’ll just be a park. How the new owners plan to make up for that will be mighty interesting, because I’m not sure how removing it helps them at all. The Marlins need to get less weird, but they don’t need to get duller. And it’s a fine, fine line between those two.