“So we bought a pack of cigarettes, and Mrs. Wagner pies, and walked off to look for America.” — Simon and Garfunkel
“We should see something in every baseball city,” one of us says.
“Like a tourist something?” the other asks.
“Yes, except now you’ve ruined it.”
South Beach is the glamorous—this is not a positive attribute—neighborhood on the southern portion of Miami Beach, itself a thriving tourist city—also not a positive attribute—located on a series of natural and man-made barrier islands, with various causeways connecting it to the portion of southeast Florida where they keep Miami. It is where everyone goes, and it is where the old Jackie Gleason television show came from, they always told you, as we, the audience, would rapidly approach the twinkling Miami skyline, scooting across the water by boat, or by plane, maybe, as the enthusiastic off-camera voice would announce that what you were about to see was coming to you live, and was coming to you from Miami Beach, the sun and fun capital of the world, with the last part thrown in so we would all wish we were there. Jackie Gleason was a major star of course, and seeing signs now for The Jackie Gleason Theater seem nice, in a nostalgic, big deal celebrity kind of way, though Jackie Gleason himself always seemed like something of an asshole who was lucky Art Carney liked him.
We then spend a half hour trying to find a place to park, South Beach being a happening place, then walk through blocks of neighborhoods of boxy but colorfully attractive apartment buildings and small shops until we reach the cleverly named Ocean Drive. We are in the heart of the historic Art Deco district, which is why the hotels and shops and apartment buildings here, most of them built in the 30’s and 40’s, are colorful and playful. Which, if you look up Art Deco, is how it’s defined, along with its being exotic, and of geometric motifs. The Empire State Building is considered Art Deco, if that helps you any, which must mean that colorful and playful are both optional.
GAME TWO. APRIL 25, 2013. MIAMI
Marlins Park, baseball’s newest stadium, sits back on the mainland, two miles from downtown Miami, in the neighborhood known locally as Little Havana. It is new, and shiny, while Little Havana is not. The Fish, as they are affectionately known by those feeling any of that, played their earlier seasons at the over-sized—for baseball—Joe Robbie Stadium, home of professional football’s Dolphins, and the Florida Marlins have the distinction of having won their two World Series titles in their first eleven years in the league. Which is amazing, and pretty much unprecedented. Their story, and their road to their first title, is pretty well known by baseball fans, the short version being that in 1997, large amounts of Marlin money was spent, and star players brought in. The stars played well, the Marlins got into the playoffs as that season’s Wild Card team, then went on to win the World Series, beating the Cleveland Indians on a game seven, bottom of the eleventh single by Edgar Renteria, bringing the baseball title to Miami in only their fifth season. Which pretty much stunned the Baseball community, but went largely ignored in south Florida. Then in a fire sale that has since come to define the term, and that royally pissed off what few Marlins fans there were, those star players were promptly sold off by team owner H. Wayne Huizenga, with the Marlins losing 108 games the following season, which is the worst ever performance by a defending World Series champion. And which left what Marlins fans there were feeling betrayed, saying horrible things about owners, and staying home. In droves, they stayed home.
“My nephew, whom I once took to meet Craig Biggio, has thanked me for that by suggesting that I blog about our journey.
“Of course people will read it,” he tells me. “Some will,” he says. After which he pauses. “I won’t,” he then says, clarifying things, which is awkward and explains the pause, “but there are people who will. Just thirty minutes after the game. Tops.”
To which Vicki, who is fluent in Blog, says, “I’ll take care of it. I’ll set it up,” she says. “You’ll just have to type,” she says. May they both rot in hell.
Vicki is asleep when I finish the first blog post, which is sometime after 3:00 a.m. It is awful, and I wish I had not written most of it. And I need to learn to write poorly faster.”
“I see great things in baseball. It’s our game–the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.” — Walt Whitman