Baseball and the Open Road (Part 2)


Late last night my little brother Grant arrived in Fort Lauderdale by way of Chicago.  A good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast and we found ourselves waiting outside of the new Marlin’s Park just outside of downtown Miami. Although I’ve been living in the Miami area for a few years, I’m a Twins fan through and through.  For this afternoon’s game I happily sported my Frankkkkkkie shirt in support of Francisco Liriano who pitched this afternoon for the Twins (and who pitched fairly well before some defensive miscues saw him give up 4 runs in the 6th), and my trusty Twins cap.

They have several nice parking garages right outside the stadium, but they are only available if you’ve pre-paid for parking.  Not to be outdone, we quickly found ourselves the closest $10 parking spot we could find.  We were about 3-4 blocks from the stadium, and the price was right for a nice safe parking spot close to the stadium.

We arrived at 11:00 hoping to catch batting practice (BP), but the gates didn’t open until 11:30 and there was no BP to be had.  No worries.  My brother and I took a quick lap around the park so he could take in all the glory of the shiny new stadium.  This was my third trip to the new ballpark, but for Grant, it was his first taste of Miami’s version of a baseball stadium.  His initial thoughts on the lime-green walls that surround the field “it’s a little bit strange.”

Hot dogs at the park came in at $6 even with all the fixings you could pile on.  I added a healthy dose of relish, onions, and jalapenos before smothering in mustard (ketchup on a hot dog, NEVER!).  For $6 bucks, it was an even trade.  Beerski’s were a bit more.  For a domestic draft (Bud Light/Corona Light) you paid $8, for domestic bottle (aluminum style) the price was $8.50, imports were a couple more bills at $10 even.  The beer selection wasn’t great at most of the kiosks around the stadium, but out overlooking the outfield at the Budweiser rooftop bar the selection was much better.

There were several different eateries around the stadium, including 305 Burgers, FanFeast, and a couple of Mexican food joints.  I looked, but was unable to locate a Cuban Sandwich much to my dismay.  There are a couple of foods I have come to love during my 3+ years living in the Miami area, and tops on that list is a good Cuban sandwich and a Cafe con leche.

We had pretty good seats, third row in section 40, just fair of the right field foul pole.  Unfortunately, row 3 was a bit misleading.  What I thought were going to be SPECTACULAR seats at a great price, were just a good deal.  Row 3 is actually row 10, rows in section 40 start with A through G.  None-the-less, the seats were good.

In true Miami sports fashion, the number of Phillies fans who had come to see their team take on the Marlins was fairly close to the number of Marlins fans out in support of the hometown team.  Section 40 was especially full of Phillies fans as we were situated between the RF foul pole and the Phillies bullpen.  The Phillies fans were loud, and slightly obnoxious.  Several times during the games they began chanting “E-A-G-L-E-S,” I know that the Eagles are from Philly as well, but really?  This is BASEBALL! My little brother was also confused by their antics.

The Phillies took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but backed by homeruns from Giancarlo Stanton (who wasted no time proving his All-Star selection was no fluke) and Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins were able to come up with a 5-2 victory thanks to 7 strong innings from Ricky Nolasco as the Marlins completed the series sweep of the floundering Phillies, their first sweep of the Phillies in Miami since 2004.

The Miami Marlins have a nice stadium on their hands, the smallest stadium in MLB (by seats) at 37,000 seats hosted just over 31,000 for the early afternoon game on Sunday.  The ballpark is easily accessible from the interstate, parking is readily available around the stadium, and the retractable roof (opens/closes in 13 minutes) means that even when it’s 95+ outside, inside the ballpark it’s cool and comfortable for the players on the field and the fans in the stands. The Clevelander night club in left center field is a bit strange to me, but is exactly what you’d expect in a park built for Miamians, along with the ugly but befitting statue in center field.  The lime-green walls of the stadium keep things bright and cheery, and the skyline views of downtown Miami behind left field are gorgeous, although not nearly as pretty as the views from our beloved Target Field. My little brother was particularly impressed by the Bobble-Head Museum store, more bobble-head baseball players than any one man could ever want.

As the sun set over Florida my brother and I were on the road headed up to Tampa Bay for Monday evening’s game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field.  Check back to Puckett’s Pond later this week as the Baseball Roadtrip continues.  For those of you twitter savvy readers out there you can follow me or look for the hashtag #baseballroadtrip. Onward to Tampa!

Any Twins, Rays or Yankees fans in Tampa for this evening’s game, shout out at me on Twitter for a Tweet-n-Greet during the game.

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