Marlins fans everywhere rejoiced last week at the news that Jeffrey Loria had reached an agreement to sell the Marlins to a group headlined by Yankees legend, and future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter.
The agreement not only marked the beginning of the end of Loria's controversial reign, but the inclusion of Jeter in the winning bid has generated a lot of buzz considering what he has achieved over the course of his illustrious career, and his determination and focus to win could turn the team's fortunes on the diamond (and the franchise's bottom line) around fairly quickly.
However, among the excitement and hope came a sad snippet of news this past weekend: the ownership group is strongly considering removing the jewel in the crown of Marlins Park, the center field home run sculpture.
Whether you love the water spouts and spinning marlins that celebrate a Giancarlo Stanton bomb every single game (as many do), or love to hate it (as many do), the new owners cannot come straight in and remove what has become an integral part of one of the league's most edgy stadiums.
First of all, the sculpture is fun and it gives Marlins Park a real sense of character. Yes, the bobble-head museum and the fish tanks behind home plate are cool, but they are not exactly ‘in your face’, and they do blend into the surroundings. The sculpture, on the other hand, screams ‘look at me’ with its bright lights and moving parts, adding life to the contemporary feel of the ballpark, which arguably over-utilizes blocks of neutral colors, especially on the concourse.
Second, the sculpture makes the Marlins unique as no other club celebrates home runs in such an extravagant and flamboyant way. Perhaps most importantly, though, is that the sculpture serves as a reminder of all of the losing seasons that the city of Miami has had to endure, and when (not if) the team starts to contend again after more than a decade of mid-table finishes, it will make supporters even more grateful for what the new ownership has brought to the franchise.
The probable thinking is that removing the divisive sculpture will help to separate the new ownership group from the old, signifying a fresh start and a new sense of direction. Yet, with reports surfacing that current team president David Samson might be offered a position in the front office after the sale closes, there would not be a clean break from the old guard, so why remove the statue when it could actually benefit the new owners as argued above?
It takes seeing the sculpture up-close and in-person to truly appreciate just how much it brings to the stadium and, hopefully, once Jeter and the other investors do, they will change their minds.
Until then, #SaveOurSculpture needs to be a thing, or else Marlins games may just become a lot less, well, Marlin-esque.