Home Sweet Home

I apologize for being late with this–work (along with my upcoming weekend trip to Montreal) has kept me busy this week.

But here you go: some thoughts on Monday afternoon’s Expos/Marlins game, such as they are.

1) Luke and I met at 12:45, because MLB.com said the game was to begin at 1:35. Alas, the game began at 1:05, which meant that many fans were already there ahead of us and we were reduced to sitting on the sixth row, behind the on-deck circle. We were so far away I almost couldn’t count the crows feet around Jeff “The Original Marlin” Conine’s eyes.

2) Our estimates of the crowd size, apparently, were wildly inaccurate. The upper decks were closed completely (In fact, there were some construction–or, I suppose in this case, destruction–guys ripping out a section of seats in the upper deck in left. Not like the Sox have another ten home games or anything.), and the lower deck, though more full than I would have guessed, wasn’t anywhere near capacity. I guessed 900 or so, Luke dithered between 800 and 1200. Attendance wasn’t announced during the game, but it was later listed at 4,003.

3) Luke and I had both expected the fans to be rooting for the Expos, hoping for a Marlins defeat that would push Florida farther behind the Cubs in the Wild Card race. There’s nothing like a little North Side blindness, which we all fall prey to sometimes. Turns out about half the audience was composed of Sox fans rooting for a Marlins rout, a Sosa suspension, and more concrete cave-ins at Wrigley. One funny side effect of the general admission seating was that people chose sections like at a high school game: the Expos fans sat on the Expos dugout side, the Marlins fans did the same with the Marlins dugout.

4) The Marlins brought their hometown PA announcer and graphics package, which included the obligatory scoreboard races, a gratuitous shot of Steve Bartman, and a lot of “your Florida Marlins.” One of the scoreboard races was an exotic Florida-type race: fan boats, being raced by several different Billy the Marlin. Bill was also in attendance, as was Marlins owner (and Expos destroyer) Jeffrey Loria. The only thing missing was local traffic information to help us get home to South Beach after the game.

5) The atmosphere at the game, Luke and I agreed, was one of the most pleasant of any game we’ve been to. No one (except the players) had much invested in the game’s outcome, so the cheering was genial, and people seemed to be really enjoying being part of a weird occurrence on a beautiful late summer day. It felt a lot like attending a minor-league game with major-league players–until the Expos made four errors in the 8th inning, at which point it seemed like, well, maybe a T-Ball game.

6) Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I made the day into a doubleheader, hurrying home after the game to get some dinner, then turning around and heading to Wrigley Field for the Cubs/Pirates game. Greg Maddux, given an early lead, did what he nearly always does, and a fine day of baseball came to a pleasant end.

7) And one unrelated note: let’s take a moment to congratulate the Big Unit, who last night fanned Vinny Castilla to move into third all-time on the strikeout list. He might even eventually catch Clemens for second, since he shows no signs of aging.

Original comments…

Jim: You wanted local traffic information for Miami?

“I-95 north is backed up due to slow-moving Cadillacs with turn signals on in all lanes. The Turnpike south is temporarily closed due to alligators crossing the roadway. A1A is flooded due to this week’s hurricane.”

Luke, hanger-on: One of the Florida papers on Tuesday — sorry, I forget which one — said it was the Marlins who wanted the later start Monday, but MLB nixed it. And it said Loria was annoyed at Bartman’s visage — A regular feature after fan interference at Sox Park? The story made it sound like it was. — and made an enraged call to the scoreboard operator to get it yanked. Apparently he’s a bit defensive vis-a-vis the idea that anyone but the Marlins had anything to do with Florida’s unlikely championship.

In addition to the absence of “You suck!” heckles and “Yo, four beers!” bellowing, there was another pleasantness to the game that I’m surprised that Levi didn’t mention: very few children. It was a weekday, so they must have all been in school or jail, where they belong. There were just enough there — youngsters too young for school or out on parole — so that just about every foul ball seemed to get passed on to a nearby child, an indicator of the genial, generous mood that the crowd was in.

Luke: Found that story. (Login: bugmenot2; pass: whatever .)

Luke: And it wasn’t Loria, but Marlins President David Samson.

Jason: Did they have any south Florida items at the concession stands, like oranges or cocaine?

maura: (we weren’t really sure of what time monday’s game was going to start until about five minutes before it actually did. so much confusion.)

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