It’s the first weekend of the NFL offseason. The Heat have an off day. The University of Miami men’s basketball team gets their loss to UNC over with in the early afternoon, and the Panthers will wait until after dark to take the ice.
Despite some clever attempts to raise awareness for the event over social media, they still have room to spare for last-minute RSVPs.
The core of the team remains largely the same from 2018. Expectations for on-field performance this season are, once again, incredibly low.
However, the following players attending have been acquired by the Marlins over the past calendar year: Sixto Sánchez, Tristan Pompey, Will Stewart, Nick Fortes, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Austin Brice, Rosell Herrera, Riley Ferrell, Tyler Kinley, Nick Anderson and Julian Fernández. For many, this is also the first opportunity to meet top prospects Monte Harrison, Isan Díaz, Jorge Guzman and Jordan Yamamoto, all of whom were added to the 40-man roster during the offseason.
You—and more importantly, any children coming with you—will be entertained. Events and activities include:
- Autograph and meet-and-greet sessions with Marlins players and alumni
- Challenge players in dominoes or board games
- Batting cage experience
- Speed pitch machine
- Play catch on the field (bring your own glove)
- Face painting, balloon animals and DJ
- Live player interviews on the West Plaza
- Fireworks show
For Marlins Members, there’s also an exclusive “State of the Marlins” event with executives Michael Hill and Chip Bowers. That begins at 1 p.m.
A lot of that may sound familiar, right? Fortunately, there are several unique storylines surrounding the 2019 edition of FanFest.
Freed From Philly
After numerous false alarms, Thursday was The Day we had been anxiously awaiting.
- Phillies get C J.T. Realmuto
- Marlins get RHP Sixto Sánchez, C Jorge Alfaro, LHP Will Stewart and $250,000 international bonus slot
Only Alfaro has a current 40-man roster spot, but the Fish want their fans to get acquainted with the full haul of talent tasked with filling the void left by Realmuto’s departure.
The Phillies are a somewhat surprising landing spot. Earlier in the negotiating process, the Dodgers, Reds, Padres, Braves, Rays, Astros, Nationals, Mets and Yankees all had varying levels of interest in Realmuto. Most possess stronger overall farm systems than the Phillies, but Sánchez, a developing frontline starter, was among the few truly elite prospects who was available to the Marlins.
Spoiler alert: they are not done yet.
Latest pics of Marlins Park construction/repainting as seen at the 10X Growth Conference held there on Friday (still a lil green on CF fence) pic.twitter.com/L4KiH8Ibj3— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) February 1, 2019
Even so, fans will notice the significant changes to Marlins Park. Most obviously, “Homer” the home run sculpture is gone, replaced by the Center Field Zone. Another standing room only section is under construction down the right-field line. Bright green walls have been painted dark blue.
You can taste the difference, too. FanFest marks the debut of the sensibly priced 3-o-5 menu. Miami’s Best Pizza will be served in the ballpark for the first time.
Also, free samples! Craft beer (4:30-6 p.m.) and new hot dog offerings (3:30-6:30 p.m.) await.
Billy’s New Look
SiriusXM/Five Reasons Sports Network host Craig Mish has been all over this developing story (one that, admittedly, doesn’t really affect anybody). The Billy the Marlin costume is being re-designed for 2019, and it’s widely suspected that we will see it at FanFest.
For a franchise that struggles with continuity in most other areas, our own Alex Contreras finds it refreshing that Billy has been the one constant.
Several Fish Stripes representatives—Alex, Daniel Martinez, Ian Smith, etc.—are attending FanFest. Please be friendly! And don’t be shy! If you have any constructive criticism for our site, they’ll be passing it along to me.