Major professional sports championships won in full or part at what is presently known as Dolphin Stadium:
San Francisco 49ers: 2
Denver Broncos: 1
Indianapolis Colts: 1
Florida Marlins: 2
Miami Dolphins: 0
HA! The Dolphins haven’t won a thing since moving into the building where they dominate everything but the bottom line of the competitive ledger, have they? Their badly run baseball tenant is positively bathed in glory compared to the emptiness in Don Shula’s trophy case since the joint opened in 1987. Since January 1974, actually. That doesn’t stop Shula’s jaw from jutting in front of cameras long past its day in the sun, but it should.
The Marlins? They’re an odd fish in the Dolphin tank. The next time we glance inside the Super Bowl facility we have, for own nefarious purposes, referred to as The Sack, Soilmaster Stadium, Tru Playa Park, Your Name Here Stadium and even, surprisingly respectfully, Joe Robbie Stadium, will be in third week of April, a Wednesday night. There will almost assuredly be approximately 500 people for every point the Bears scored yesterday. Unless it’s drizzling. Then there will be fewer.
Thanks to the unbalanced schedule, we know about the Marlins. We see them 19 times a year every year whether we want to or not. Though the home/away ratio is always 10:9 or 9:10, it seems like we play just about every game against them in Florida. You can’t think of the Marlins without thinking of their distressing home situation and you can’t think of that and not want it and them to go away.
While we’ve been wintering and wondering if there’s possibly a pitcher out there for the pinching, our gilled counterparts — however many of them there are — have been tossed a life preserver of sorts. Talk about constructing and funding a new Miami ballpark has gotten reasonably serious. The Marlins may actually escape the shadow of the Dolphins, the 6 o’clock showers, the sweltering indifference of their exit off the Florida Turnpike and a setup that leaves their groundskeeping supplies in full public view.
I hope they do. I don’t like the Marlins. I don’t like any National League team that isn’t us. But they’re here, they’re teal, I’ve gotten used to them. Besides, we gotta play somebody somewhere. It might as well be them in an upgraded setting. It’s absurd to believe that South Florida can’t properly support an MLB franchise if the MLB franchise were to be run and housed like a fairly normal business. The Marlins have never had anything going for them in the way of human ownership and yet there they are, the only N.L. team in the past 24 seasons to own two Commissioner’s Trophies.
That’s gotta be worth something. All those folks crammed into those three counties that make up the Marlins’ ADI (even accounting for the legendary snowbirds) have gotta be worth something. A generation of children of expatriates of baseball-savvy metropolitan areas growing up with a potentially decent place to take in a game has gotta be worth something. A retractable roof playing velvet rope to the objectionable elements that have been killing attendance at JRS since 1993 has gotta be worth something. Whatever intelligence exists in Marlin scouting and development that allowed them to be competitive under insane circumstances in 2006 has gotta be worth a ton.
Maybe if the Marlins had been brutally unsuccessful in their 14 seasons in the bigs I wouldn’t be rooting for their rescue. But the way they managed to win two World Series, even if the first one involved Bobby Bonilla in a featured role, is a part of baseball history, and not the Bonds-McGwire-Sosa kind. Huizenga is Roy Boe on steroids for ripping apart a champion before the ticker tape was picked up, but then another personally detestable owner came in and they won (versus the Yankees at Soilmaster North, technically). There must be something going on down there that’s worth preserving.
What if the Marlins don’t get their ballpark? You figure they move to some inconvenient non-EDT outpost that will play havoc with the Mets’ travel. Bet they keep them in the division anyway. Who needs another weird road trip? Maybe the relocated Marlins move out of our jurisdiction and we get Pittsburgh back. I’m second to no fan in my admiration for PNC Park, but I don’t wanna play there any more than we have to. We occasionally win games at The Sack. Nothing good ever comes out of PNC except the view.
Fantasize all you want about making an opponent disappear. You’re still required to play somebody to fill up those 162 boxes on the schedule. We learned that when the Expos morphed into the Nationals.
I continue to carry the tiniest of torches for the departed Montreal Expos. Finished a book not long ago in which I learned they were known as Nos Amors in Quebec. Our loves. That’s sad. So was Olympic Stadium and the deterioration of everything Expo, making Washington a logical landing spot. But it’s still sad that it didn’t work out. The Expos were interesting. They were different. In this corner, they remain missed.
The Marlins don’t quite rile up my emotions that way. They’re mostly annoying. But as one who has gotten used to them, one who claimed a Broward address back in the day, one who got a surprisingly big kick out of their 2003 title run, one who rooted for them in October of 1997 against his better judgment and one who will always link the best night of the 2006 regular season to their presence at Shea Stadium, I would like to see them stay afloat in Florida as long as they can.
If for no other reason than they make the Dolphins’ 33-season title drought look laughable by comparison.