Growing up in Miami, there seemed to be two eternal debates: When Castro would finally kick the bucket and when the city would get its act together and strike a deal for Los Marlins to finally get their own stadium. The franchise spent its first 19 years sharing a stadium with the Miami Dolphins. For baseball, the stadium was cavernous and uninviting.
Well, it's 2012. Castro is still alive. And baseball season kicks off tonight. But this season, the Miami Marlins — yes, that's the name now and they also have a new uniform — will face the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals in the team's brand new stadium.
The Miami Herald touts it as a "new era for Miami baseball." It's a big deal in the city and surely many — including this blogger's dad — are celebrating major league baseball much closer to the heart of the city.
But as we flipped through pictures of the stadium today, we noticed the new park had some quirks. Forget the fact that it looks like a spaceship or that questionable choice for a logo.
Instead, look at what's behind home plate:
Yup. That's a 450-gallon salt-water aquarium. Did we mention there are two of them right behind home plate, where foul balls will easily break the 100 mph barrier?
The tanks are likely well reinforced, but whatever happened to "don't tap on the glass?"
If that's not enough, check out the $2.5 million "home run sculpture" that sits in centerfield and was created by acclaimed multimedia artist Red Grooms:
That thing with the marlins and flamingos and pelicans and palm trees, has already sparked controversy. (Yahoo! Sports called it a "grotesque" monstrosity that "might not be safe for children, the elderly or people with epilepsy...")
But aside from the aesthetic quibbles, The Miami Herald reported that left-handed players have started complaining.
"If it is an issue, it can no longer be there," Marlins utility player Greg Dobbs told the Herald. "I won't be the only left-handed hitter saying something. If other teams have a problem with it, they're definitely going to voice their concern to the league."
Maybe I'm biased, but I kind of like it: It's like the weird love child of the Astrodome Home Run Spectacular and the Durham Bulls' snorting bull. There's no word if anyone gets a steak if the marlins are hit by a home run. There's also no word on whether Bernie Brewer will feel the need to add some neon to his performance.
ESPN, by the way, has a great look inside the stadium:
The game starts at 7 p.m. ET. The rest of baseball joins the fray tomorrow.