Turn out the lights, the sculpture's over— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) October 18, 2018
Our tribute to the longest-tenured....thing at Marlins Park as it moves to the plaza outside the stadium pic.twitter.com/IrjCvfzPUY
But this relocation, which was anticipated even before Derek Jeter’s group was introduced a year ago, has blown up into a national catastrophe...at least that’s how influencers in baseball media twisted the narrative. Many talented writers that I greatly admire—including several on SB Nation’s MLB team—criticized the Fish. It was a maelstrom of “faux outrage” (h/t to our own Aram Leighton): people who sparingly attend or cover Marlins home games arguing that they are the victims in all this. Thinkpiece after thinkpiece after thinkpiece went for the cheap laughs, burying the lede or completely ignoring it.
I understand why everybody wants to weigh in. Only four teams remain alive in the 2018 postseason and most of the others aren’t contributing much to the news cycle. We need content!
However, I am seriously appalled that there’s been so much copy-and-pasting of the same lazy take about Jeter continuing his “anti-fun” crusade or stripping Marlins Park of all its personality.
That’s wrong. This is new ownership addressing a specific fan concern while giving the middle finger to Jeffrey Loria. The Marlins are thoroughly erasing his fingerprints from the franchise, and it’s fucking great.
The sculpture must remain in Miami-Dade county, which is probably for the best. Lots of us like it. I like it! The massive, interactive, vibrantly colored piece encapsulates the personality of the region.
Unfortunately, “Homer” will always be associated with Loria, who introduced it to the world in 2012. The accomplished art dealer was already a villain at that point—breaking up the 2003 World Series champions with no remorse, pressuring the municipal government into funding the new ballpark, meddling in baseball operations, neglecting analytics and the international player market, etc. He did little to repair his image over his final years in charge, frustrating die-hards and repelling the fringe fans with the National League’s longest postseason drought.
Replacing Homer’s original exhibit (just beyond the left-center field fence), the Marlins will open a new standing room-only section in a response to community requests. Fans wanted more low-cost options, particularly to accommodate younger ones looking for access without extravagance. It’s a decision serving both business and consumer interests.
Jeter has been consistent with this What Would Loria Not Do agenda. In several cases, he may have gone too far, firing qualified advisors, coaches and behind-the-scenes employees simply to “bring in his own people.” For every team that tore all the way down to eventually reach the mountaintop (Astros, Cubs), history is rife with examples of those that failed with similar blueprints. The new-look Marlins haven’t accomplished anything (yet).
To energize a dormant, fractured fanbase, the Marlins have basically turned into an attack ad against all things Loria. Without the talent to win games right now, or the revenue streams and assets to vault themselves into contention, it’s the smartest approach available to them. South Florida has already experienced baseball hell and yearns for any signs of something different.
The only losers in this are the pundits, who continue to cling to outdated perceptions about the Marlins. They’ll actually have to begin paying attention to the franchise or risk losing their credibility.