MIAMI - Since the Dan Marino Era came to an end, Dolphins football has never been the same. The front office has scurried the open market like an addict looking for a quick fix - mulishly passing on Drew Brees in the process. And like most junkies, they peddled on, barely staying afloat, longing for that same high Marino once drugged his admirers with - but all addicts know that initial high, that first sensation of euphoria will never return, never be duplicated and never revisited in full measure; we only hope it will.
Two off-seasons ago, Lebron James very elegantly expressed his affinity for his own skill-level by announcing his decision, no sorry, The Decision, to, "take my talents to South Beach" on national television - to paraphrase: I'm an NBA superstar if not the BIGGEST, who is deserving enough to use swank tourist spots to relay my message of superior existence. And as we sit in the latter end of the 2011-2012 strike-shortened season, he, yet again, tries to prove his legacy whether he admits it or not. We all recall his speech about not winning A championship, but rather a dynasty only comparable to the days of Bill Russell and the Celtics.
And to think, at one point in 2003, I truly thought this second coming of Christ was great for the reeling NBA, a godsend from the very creators that conceived Larry, Michael and Magic - but so far, nine years later, I was wrong - and I'm still waiting for the kid to win and prove me illegitimate.
Frankly, all this sets up for is a tirade of insults directed at the newly built Marlins Organization. Notice I say newly built organization and not ballpark. It's no typo, or misuse.
My first visit to the new Marlins Ballpark during the young 2012 season was one of the most repulsive baseball experiences my Boston-spoiled eyes have been subject to. I've been to minor league games in crack-infested Lowell, Massachusetts that were more baseball-orientated than the pretentious $115,500,000 Miami Marlins of 2012. But its advocates starved for reverence and relevance amongst baseball's elite - believing a new stadium would bring salvation.
We drove through the enduring backstreets of Little Havana smoking a blunt we dipped in promethazine with codeine, which on the streets these days, hipsters like Lil' Wayne deem lean, purple drank and sizzurp. For our use today, it offers a stable and immobile conquest of motor activities, its heroin for adolescents and one hell of a reliable seat weight - sustainability is a must at baseball games. You must stay seated throughout the marathon. Anything can happen in the blink of an eye - especially when the lefty Mark Buehrle is hurling. He's been known to whip through a game at the quick and swift assurance of an airstrike.
Two essential ideas of the stands: One, you should always equip your inner jeans with a cathedra - homemade if you don't have the proper resources. But if you wear shorts regularly then Gatorade bottles offer the greatest circumference. And two, a fellow dude to fetch beer and food: "I'm a respectable journalist! I can't miss a pitch you, dipshit!" And forget bringing a girl. That's like bringing a cop to a drug party: "He's cool, man, he's off duty."
"He's a fuckin' pig man. Always is, always will be."
I brought my poodle Javi with me. He always liked to tag along and I could extort him to limits beyond comprehension. I always felt he might have had a secret man-crush or obsessive carbon copy theory circling in that head of his - never really could tell. I passed him the blunt and he pulled into the parking garage.
On the outside, the park - which they strictly enforced with a whip god forbid you called it a stadium - the sight of the former Orange Bowl, sat the biggest fucking UFO you'd ever seen. Looking more like something out of Prometheus than the National League, we stumbled in with the inhabitants.
It still had that new car smell; clean, presentable and fresh. But as we ascended up the escalators, Spanish vernacular whipped around my head from any which direction - I might as well been flipping through Latin soap operas on a mid-day's siesta - Note to Self: Bring large amounts of sedatives when dealing with unusually large groups of Hispanics. Can't take noise.
I tend to notice that the combination of loud groups of people, the excruciating South Florida sun and a lack in overall drug consumption can be very hazardous to your health. And I have a bad feeling the earlier codeine wasn't enough to numb my urge to lash out - air conditioned baseball might not even suffice.
We had tickets 19 rows behind the Marlins dugout - that's the third base side for you fans used to traditional set designs - I also apologize in advance for the irreverent scenes to come.
When blueprints were constructed I wonder if they used computer graphics or Jeffery Loria's magic melting pot - picture the owner standing over his stove saying, add in a little of this (Miller Park), a bit of that (Chase Field), a splash of taxpayers dollars, a hint of Caribbean spice and the perennial Federal Investigation into a Miami business - let simmer until hot all the way through and POOF: Marlins Park.
After living in Miami for the previous five years, your world has more in common with Steven Bauer and Que Pasa, U.S.A.? than the actual Union. But enough is enough. I couldn't fully commit myself to a state of comatose since not a soul sat the fuck down. An onslaught of family Easter egg hunts filled the aisles to a busting capacity at all breaths - Hispanics never rest. Announcement to spectators sitting in an aisle seat: Hang over armrests at own risk - they take no prisoners here.
The carnival was in full swing. The innings were flying by. Billy the Marlin, the team's mascot was parading around, taking pictures with flocks of children. The dude must be sweating buckets in that suit, heat exhaustion can cause delirium - pedophilia is in the air.
A fairly good strike percentage for a starting pitcher is about sixty percent. A fan should be able to take in one hundred percent of all pitches, balls and strikes. This was not the case; I spent most of my time staring into breasts on stilts and European tight pants. My line of sight was polluted with plastic surgery and avant-garde parents, delirious of their disturbance - the sons of bitches wouldn't sit down.
The thought of pulling the fire alarm tickled my fancy; I would sit and relish the chaotic rush to safety - the true nature of human beings is on display when one tramples over another en route to self-proclaimed shelter.
In a community that consists of almost two-thirds Spanish speaking, it would be natural and safe to presume that baseball games would be a display of cultural portraits cheering their beloved team to victory. But Marlins Park, very similar to Miami as a city, lacks an identity - there's no pulse. A defibrillator wouldn't even strike a beat and the state of Florida has ample experience in this field - there is no hope here.
Gone are the days of hecklers, drunkards and shirtless buffoons. Gone are the days of tastefully obnoxious and repetitive chants like my favorite as a kid: "D-A-A-A-A-R-R-Y-L, D-A-A-A-A-R-R-Y-L" - we badgered Darryl Strawberry with - or the terrifying 300 hundred pound elephant, bellowing amusing obscenities from behind the plate.
Baseball has lost its edge, its mystique - at least in these parts. And when a competition becomes a charade its sure to perish. In this façade, the stadiums PA system fills the awkward silence with cartoon sound effects. The environment is more like a trip to the movie theatre on a Sunday afternoon - and PG at that. A subliminal technique used by the events coordinator to maintain interest - indirectly admitting to the crowds ADD.
It was the top of the seventh inning now and the Marlins were up 5-1 on the San Francisco Giants. Mark Buerhle was in full control - efficiently magical in his poise and delivery. He didn't waste time; Buerhle was on the mound to pitch. The man's thrown two no hitters, one being a perfect game - an absolute master of continuity. He's quite possibly the most underrated pitcher of the last ten years - and a first ballot Hall of Famer in my book.
Now, and for the first time in his career, he was playing for a team other than the Chicago White Sox. I only prayed that Miami could show him the same love and appreciation that made him a 10-5 player in Chicago. Maybe if the Marlins kept winning, the bandwagons would come home and settle in with dignity.
But while I sat in a puddle of faith, a dim-witted fan yelled out: "Why don't ya slow it down, Buerhle, we ain't going anywhere!" He laughed with his incumbents.
I turned to Javi and said very firmly, "Ignorant." He looked at me with utter shame and said, "I'm embarrassed."
But the man would not quit. He continued to shout out moronic lines like: "You got a date tonight?" - or - "Let a man sip his beer, Goddammit!"
I couldn't take it anymore. My lower back was becoming increasingly more irritable and the flanks of my skull were pounding. I jumped up and yelled: "You imbecilical dunce! Are you that ignorant you can't recognize a working artist?!"
"WHAT YOU CALL ME!?" he lashed forward at me - barreling over innocent by-standards.
Javi grabbed me and said we better go - physically ushering me into the aisle and up to the exit. The man finally made his way down the row but was cut off and restrained by a security guard. "YOU FUCKIN' BRAT, GET BACK HERE!" he shouted.
On the way up the stairs, I decided there was no turning back. I might as well jolt the bastards with something to really get them going so I rifled back, "Well, ya know what, IT'S A FUCKIN' STADIUM NOT A PARK!"
At that moment, time stopped and every Marlins head turned on a swivel and stared me straight in the eyes. Javi grabbed me and said: "Now we really gotta go!" The dim-witted fan led the lynch mob of irate fans storming toward us as we ran out the upper level and moon jumped down the escalators.
Once we made it out of the venue, we made a sharp right and disappeared into the parking garage. Completely exhausted and short of breath, I took out my pack of Camels and lit a cigarette. After a pull, I called out to Javi: "Now that was a ballgame!"