The last time the Marlins and Yankees played a regular season series, Land Shark was called Pro Player and no one was sure if Janet Jackson had nipples. The time after that, the Marlins were proven to be the best team in baseball, got rings to prove it, and Yanni was relevant enough to sing the National Anthem.
We're not sure which one seems longer ago.
The point is, what's happening this weekend in Miami Gardens is rare, and Marlins fans -- if they don't leave in frustration when it takes longer than two seconds to find parking -- will be forgiven for wondering if they've accidentally shown up at a Dolphins game. The disparity between New York and Florida isn't just highest to lowest payroll ($201.5 to $36.8 million) but also highest to lowest attendance (45,000 to a sparse 16,908). Those numbers mean nothing when the Yanks come to play: in 2001, the Fish saw 116,525 attend over three games.
This weekend they expect 110,000.
Who cares if most of them are transplanted New Yorkers? Only people having to earmuff their children in the stands so they don't hear what the bad men say. For their part, Fish fans will show up in droves, full of giddy hatred, bragging rights, and a giant chip on their shoulders. It promises to be a circus, by which we mean "how it is at other ballparks most of the time."
Some will attend with the burning question "to boo or not to boo?" The Yankees swing into town with Miami's disgraced favorite son, who left town a teenaged hero and returns a hooker-loving steroids user. For the most hated man in baseball, Miami's been something of a refuge for Alex Rodriguez -- and he's returned the favor with substantial donations to local schools and charities. But thanks to the massive amounts of
bad publicity honest portrayal he's suffered lately, will Marlins fans follow suit and jeer, or show a little grace? It remains to be seen.
The Marlins actually stand a decent chance to get off on the right foot in the three-game series: the Yanks just lost to the Nats (excuse us while we laugh until we cry....okay, all better now), and the Florida bullpen should be willing and rested after a shortened game in Boston meant none of them saw the field.
If the team shows up half as ready as the fans, for one glorious weekend it could be just like 2003 all over again.
With a little less Yanni.