The Marlins’ dinger sculpture is going away, and Derek Jeter is a monster. Before we get into this I want you to honestly contemplate what kind of art Jeter has in his home. Definitely some Toulouse-Lautrec posters, but he’s rich, so they’re framed. He definitely has the one with the black cat in his kitchen. He might have a Starry Night, too.
Think about what Jeter’s favorite movie is. It’s probably Inception, unless it’s Boondock Saints. Maybe, maybe, maybe it’s Shawshank Redemption, but only if he’s feeling artsy.
His favorite album is definitely something that has sold six million copies or more. You can’t possibly dispute that.
The point being that Jeter has the aesthetic taste of a Williams-Sonoma catalog. He hit-ball, caught-ball, jump-threw-ball for 20 years, and he didn’t have a lot of time to think about “art.” Also, he definitely makes air-finger quotes when he says the word “art” out loud.
Jeter is taking down the Marlins’ home-run sculpture because he has no vision. He’s all New York-by-way-of-Michigan, and when he walks around Miami, he doesn’t get it. He’s not sure why there are so many [wrinkles nose and gestures wildly] colors.
Whatever, he’s just there to run a team and make some clams. You didn’t realize that he was a human leveraged buyout when he was playing because, hey, players are supposed to succeed. But he was succeeding so much that other teams were stripping their own assets to keep up, and then the Yankees would acquire those assets. This is all Jeter knows. He knows a world where everyone else in the world has to tear it all down, but he stays completely secure.
I loved that sculpture. It’s real to me, dammit.
Just to catch you up, I have a history with this beautiful, horrible, and beautiful thing. My very first viral post happened because of the sculpture, and it was based on nothing more than a GIF I found on Reddit. I, too, lacked vision.
Then I found myself inside the belly of the beast.
Just a few months before I got to go into the sculpture, I had an epiphany. This thing was beautiful. It was perfect and it was going to be something that defined the team for decades, like the ivy in Chicago, the water in San Francisco, and the green-ass outfield wall in Boston. I based my whole feature around it.
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.
I based that feature around two things, actually. The first was that the new owners wouldn’t be so weird and short-sighted that they would tear the whole team apart. The second was that the Sculpture would stand, a visionary piece of art that helped define the whole Marlins Park experience. Time would make it beautiful. Time has a way of doing that.
Both of those ideas were proven horrifically, inescapably incorrect, though. The new owners would absolutely be that weird and shortsighted. They would absolutely do their best to recreate the Marlins Park experience, even if they admittedly didn’t really know what that was.
Before the Jeter-figurehead ownership group took over, the Marlins weren’t known for an awful lot. Giancarlo Stanton. The Sculpture. Two improbable championships, but no division titles in team history.
The new owners stripped whatever they could. The historically great outfield was jettisoned, and it was the rare kind of fire sale where a team somehow doesn’t net a top-100 prospect. The Marlins are so much worse off than they were. The laughable attendance expectations from an over-eager ownership group turned out to be laughable, oddly enough.
Derek Jeter business plan projects big profits and spike in Marlins attendance
That projection was dumb as shit. Imagine taking the Marlins over and thinking, “Ah, now this is a fan base that can definitely appreciate the strategy behind another rebuild. Attendance will increase.”
No, this was a scarred fan base, one that was waiting for a knight in shining armor. They didn’t just want to avoid the familiar stars-for-prospects trope. They wanted to add to their superstars. A wild concept, no? Imagine a team wanting to build around a historically talented outfield.
But with the players gone, at least the Marlins had the sculpture. That weird, wild, beautiful, entirely Miami sculpture. It was the one thing left that let you know, unambiguously, that you were watching Miami baseball. Hitters would crank homers into the sculpture, and they would clank off it, and it was a delightful little quirk. Stanton would hit one 470 feet, and the flamingos would dance, baby, dance. It happened to be in a ballpark that was gloriously air-conditioned, like no Miami ballpark before it.
Now you have the CGI green screen that spans the outfield, and that’s it. Unless you’re keen on a starting pitcher spitting or J.T. Realmuto, here’s what your Marlins experience is now:
They’re a baseball team. One of 30. They play in a geographic region, but don’t worry about that. They’re a baseball team! One of 30! Isn’t that enough?
Well, no. So now it’s up to Jeter and Co. to reinvent a Marlins experience. I can’t imagine what it will take to get the Miami fans to trust baseball again. Remember, this weirdness didn’t start with the Marlins. It started with Triple-A teams and failed minor-league experiments that went back decades. The entire history of Miami baseball is centered on rich people making disappointing decisions.
Maybe the new Marlins have it figured out. Maybe the plan is to excise the superstars, get rid of the notable dinger monstrosity, and start completely over with a team and fan experience that is unfamiliar and unsurpassed. The next step is to move on to that newly focused team and fan experience. Everyone will be happy.
I’m sure you totally trust them, right?
Now that the superstars are gone, they’ll get to work on making the ballpark completely unremarkable. It’ll be about 65º inside, it’ll have a fish tank behind home, and the outfield fence will be green. You won’t know any of the players, but in the future, maybe you will. That’s the Marlins Promise™.
That’s always been the Marlins Promise, but the last two times it was tried, the team played in a dull-ass football stadium. Then they were playing in a unique, sweet park with more than a little character.
Too much character. It’s gone. And the new Marlins forge on, implementing their plan of ... whatever their plan is.
- Piss off the fans
- Make the ballpark more boring and homogenous
- Increase attendance, according to Project Wolverine?
- Profit, of course.
The Marlins have been busy acquiring international bonus money lately, so they’re up to something. It’s not inconceivable that a team could go from a bottom-feeding roster to a championship contender in two or three years. We’re watching the Astros in the ALCS again, for example.
Right now, though, the 2019 Marlins will be so much lamer than they were just last year. That’s the instant takeaway. A scarred fan base, not sure if they should ever get attached two a player or team again, were instantly told, nah. It’s going to take a while before you should get attached again.
The next step was to make the ballpark less remarkable.
If you can think of a better plan, I’d like to hear it.
From here, though, it looks pretty silly. The Marlins’ new owners took over a team and immediately ditched anything that made it unique. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for them.
The Marlins used to be something, and now they’re nothing. If they’re going to be something again, we’ll have to trust the new weirdos to figure out what that something is.
They probably won’t. My guess is his is something that the next owners will have to fix. It’s a shame. It was such a good start. It was such a good start!
In the end, Miami baseball always seems to find a way to disillusion everyone around it. We shouldn’t be surprised, but we can definitely be disappointed.