The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Fun and Disappointment

The Marlins survived their recent seven game home stand with four wins and three losses. After losing two of three games to the Astros to start the week, the Marlins roared back to defeat the Diamondbacks in three of four games over the weekend. Not surprisingly, the Marlins lone loss against the 2001 World Series Champions came against ageless wonder Randy Johnson. Despite the loss, that day’s marquee pitching match-up (Johnson against Dontrelle Willis) drew a crowd of more than 40,000 to Pro Player Stadium (in something oddly reminiscent of last season, when the largest regular season crowd of the year also came for a Johnson – Willis match-up).

Beginning today, the Marlins play three games against the Reds in Cincinnati, before returning home for six more games. A few weeks back, and certainly coming into the season, this Reds series was definitely one that you would have circled on the calendar and marked as two certain wins and possibly a sweep for the Fish. However, the Reds are hot right not – and are likely playing over their heads. Going into last week, I felt the Astros might be the best team in the National League. But then the Astros went into Cincinnati over the weekend and lost four straight games to the Reds. This doesn’t bode too well for the Marlins, even if the Reds pitchers and batters aren’t overly intimidating. Sure Sean Casey, Adam Dunn, and that Griffey guy are all nice players, but they don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents like some of the Marlins other foes.

Enough about that though… you’ve probably read all about that on and and other such sites. Instead, today I’d prefer to give you a little recap of the weekend that was at Pro Player Stadium, from my perspective (no – nothing about urinals this time).

As you may know, I’m a big fan of tailgating. Up until recently I wasn’t a big fan of baseball tailgating, but I’ve always been a big fan of football tailgating. I’ve started to come around recently on the baseball tailgating though. I know that I should be embarrassed to admit this, but my Coleman Extreme cooler (which allegedly will keep ice frozen for five days – and I believe it) and my Coleman propane grill are two of my most prized possessions. I know that, at age twenty-six, I’m reaching an age where I should be more concerned about things like a mortgage, a marriage, and a family, but at the same time, I’m pretty content for the time being with drinking beer in a parking lot and having a hot dog, fajitas, pancakes, or whatever might be coming off the grill on a particular day. Yes, I know that coming into this year one of my New Year’s resolutions was to spend less time drinking alcohol in parking lots. I think I’ve made that “resolution” in each of the last two or three years. But I didn’t even make it through the first day of the new year without violating my resolution, as I spent a fair portion of the day in the Pro Player Stadium parking lot with beer, jello shots, and ribs. After that rolling start to the year, I figured why stop a good thing. Plus I figured that if I kept at the tailgating thing I could at least live up to another one of my New Year’s resolutions, which was to better theme tailgating festivities to the day’s opponent (sure – you could argue that the two resolutions I’ve mentioned here are completely at odds with each other, but they’re my resolutions, so leave me alone about it).

Regarding the resolution to better theme my tailgating, I have to say that I have more than lived up to my expectations to date this year. As an example, for opening day against the Montreal Expos, our spread featured a variety of Canadian beers. For Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks, we had some of Crazy Ed’s (of the Satisfied Frog variety for those of you familiar with the Cave Creek tourist mecca) Chile infused beer as well as fajitas, flan, and other Mexican/Southwestern themed dishes. I was quite pleased with the spread.

My pleasure with the day’s events quickly faded though as I went to enter the stadium. Pro Player Stadium and the Marlins (you have to list both here, as both refuses to accept accountability for much of anything) are amazingly inconsistent in their application of policy. I attempted to bring a small bag, similar to one I had brought into the stadium recently, with me. The bag contained two small bottles of water, binoculars, a scorebook, a small radio (“walkman”), and sunscreen. The first ticket taker refused to let me enter with the bag, since in her estimation it was a “backpack” – which it isn’t, but apparently backpacks are forbidden. At a previous game, I was also denied entry at one gate with a similar bag, but allowed in with another, so I walked a little ways away to another gate and tried to enter there. That didn’t work either, so I was forced to return to my car and leave the bag behind. However, I was able to fit the water, sunscreen, etc into my cargo shorts. I didn’t absolutely “need” the bag to get my things into the stadium, but it definitely would have been more convenient. I guess I don’t understand what the big deal is regarding bringing a bag into the stadium. I have seen ladies argue with the security about whether their purses are too big to be brought in or not, and this too – from what I’ve been told seems to be handled inconsistently. It doesn’t seem like rocket science though (although the administrators of the policy – at least at the gates themselves – will never be confused with rocket scientists). Why don’t they set up a portion of one gate to accommodate guests with bags? Sure the line will be longer and will take more time to get through, but then people can bring in their things with less disagreement. Sure, some things like alcohol, glass bottles, weapons, etc will still be banned, but I think the point of the rule is more to keep dangerous things out of the stadium than simply to keep bags out. Writing a policy with the intent to keep bags out just doesn’t make any sense to me. Plenty of other places – Disneyworld for example – allows you to bring bags into the park with just about anything inside of them – even food that you might otherwise buy at their outrageous prices once you are inside. I’m not even suggesting that the Marlins or Pro Player Stadium do that. I suppose we’ll never see it happen though, because the Marlins will point their finger at Pro Player Stadium and Pro Player Stadium will point its fingers at the Marlins (yes, it’s true – the stadium itself has fingers, walk around and look for them).

I took the time to look at the Marlins' policies about what can and cannot be brought into the stadium. Apparently the limit on bags is 8 ½ by 11 inches. I don’t understand the logic behind limiting bags to be of this size, other than that it’s the size of a piece of paper. My bag is bigger than that so I suppose I have no argument, except that the bags the credit card people give away inside the stadium (or are they selling newspapers or something else? I’m not really sure) are bigger than those dimensions and people walk around with those regularly. The people who sit in front of me regularly bring beer in glass bottles into the stadium with them, which is also against stadium policy – check it out here. I guess this is part of what bothers me too – that the policies seem to be applied arbitrarily and I don’t really feel like I’m doing anything wrong by trying to bring a bag in with water, sunscreen, and a scorebook. It’s not like I’m hiding drugs, alcohol, and weapons inside – and I’d be happy to have someone look to see if any contraband was in the bag. Actually – I would appreciate it. Apparently glass bottled beer is making it into the stadium, which is a dangerous thing in a confined space on a number of levels. Who knows what else is making it inside?

Another policy that I noticed on the Marlins web site was this: “Be a team player, please restrict movement in the seating to breaks in the action.” This made me laugh out loud. First of all, it’s completely obvious. Anyone who is capable of reading that sentence is also likely capable of not needing too, because they will simply adhere to it out of common decency and not because they have been reminded of it. It also made me laugh because Marlins President David Samson, for one, rarely restricts his movement to breaks in the action. On many occasions last year I sat in the same section as Mr. Samson (Founders Field seats towards the Marlins dugout) and was constantly interrupted by Mr. Samson running back and forth from his seat to somewhere else underneath the stadium. He was usually on his cellphone and oblivious to the goings on of the game, but this is beside the point. Sure, Mr. Samson is an important cog in the Marlins organization, but this does not give him the right to be discourteous to his fellow spectators. But apparently the inconsistency and random application of stadium policy starts at the top, as even team President David Samson does not even adhere to the rules posted by his organization.


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