Some things do not seem very weird until you actually try them — like hot dogs, San Diego State in the Big East and Zach Galifianakis movies not named The Hangover.
Now, I can truthfully add indoor baseball to the list.
Yesterday, during the blistering and sticky summer in South Florida, I attended my first Miami Marlins game in the brand new Marlins Stadium that just opened this season. The UFO lookalike sits on the grounds of the old and famed Orange Bowl, the longtime home of the Miami Hurricanes, the Miami Dolphins, Muhammad Ali fights, crappy orange seats and tiny locker rooms, and features a giant silver retractable roof that opens up to the Miami sky when the Miami sky isn’t opening up on it.
Windows line the outer barrier well beyond the left field wall and overlook the scenic Miami skyline. An atrocious home run abomination shoots water straight up and lets dolphins and marlins fly through the air after a Miami round tripper. Fish — yes, real live fish — live in the backstop. The walls are lime green while silver and white drape the infrastructure around the park.
With so many unique if not somewhat strange details, the stadium oddly did not have any atmosphere. If you watch a game on television, the building appears to have no personality because of the quiet crowd. The air conditioning
and echoes of the public address announcer drowned out any potential crowd noise (insert Marlins fan and crowd noise joke here). The stadium seemed emptier than the announced attendance (insert Marlins fan and attendance joke here) although many people chose to stroll around the concourse and take in the game that way.
The vibe of the stadium was more touristy than fanlike (although, admittedly, I was awed when I first walked around). Chalk it up to indoor baseball and its strangeness. The players didn’t even have shadows, for crying out loud.
I am by no means saying indoor baseball is a bad thing. In places like Florida and Arizona, air conditioning and shade keep fans out of the heat and to the games. It is a necessary evil as I see it.
But it just is not the same.
I have been to games at both Tropicana Field — back when they were the Devil Rays — and Chase Field, before the Diamondbacks were a playoff team. And the same thing happens there. There is no gameday atmosphere.
For a fast-paced, exciting, on-the-edge-of-your-seat sport like football, indoor atmospheres work. The crowd noise gets trapped in the dome and makes life hell for the opposing quarterback. But for a slow-paced and strategic game like baseball, a comfy 72 degrees may relax the average fan and lull them to sleep.
No one would fall asleep with the heat requiring multiple coats of sunscreen. No one is relaxing with a gust blowing out to right field. But people will when a climate controlled game crawls along.
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