Cumberland Times-News

Mike Burke - Sports

June 29, 2012

The weird and wonder of Miami

Miami is wonderful. In an odd way, the humidity helps it to be wonderful because it’s a different kind of humidity that seems to be Miami’s all its own. And the wind at night (on a calm night), and the sound of the water. The smell of salt water and seafood. And the trees. The sound of trees in the wind.

But most of all, the people there make Miami enjoyable.  I mean, it’s a tourist city and tourists are actually treated as guests there, unlike some other tourist spots you can think of.

The 1957 movie “Pal Joey” was filmed at our Miami Beach hotel, once known as “The Cadillac,” although Rita Hayworth would not take my calls.

Our group was lucky because Tropical Storm Debby chose to visit Tampa instead of Miami last weekend, but it did rain cats and dogs on the night we went to Marlins Park to see the Marlins-Blue Jays game, which had a profound effect on the experience, but more on that later.

As for the NBA champion Miami Heat, yes, we were there that Thursday night when the city of Miami went wild. But it was a good wild. Completely under control, if you consider flooding the streets to dance and sing, and beat pots and pans together into the wee morning hours under control. Which, given some of the celebrations we’ve seen in our little neck of the woods, yes, we considered that under control. There were no fires, no looting and, from what was reported, very few arrests.

Perhaps the Heat’s championship is what made Miami friendly because everybody was so just so darn happy when we were there, and that’s rarely the case. (See train trip to Chicago).

As for the parade, we lucked out in that department as well, as the parade was on Monday, the day we flew out. Although the Heat players themselves hosted a kick-arse party early that Friday morning at a club just down Collins Avenue; our invitations, apparently, were lost in the mail.

As for the futuristic Marlins Park, located in the Little Havana section of town where the Orange Bowl once stood, it’s an experience, although I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on what kind of experience it was.

Perhaps the most appealing features of the structure (it’s really too big and bizarre to be called a ballpark) are the views you receive looking inside from the outside and looking out to the city from the inside, even while the roof is closed. Unfortunately, it was raining like nobody’s business the night we went, so the panels along the side of the structure that afford you those breathtaking views when they’re open were closed.

Thus, it was pretty much like being in Miller Park in Milwaukee when its side panels and roof are closed. In other words, you’re watching baseball in a dome, flat-out.

Don’t misunderstand. Marlins Park is very nice; very different to be sure. But like Miller Park in Milwaukee, Marlins Park is just weird.

The field dimensions from left to center appear to be not unlike those of Fenway Park’s, with the high wall from left to center. Although Marlins Park is much deeper down the line — 340 in left, 386 in the alley and 420 to the Bermuda Triangle feature in left-center, as opposed to Fenway’s 315, 379 and 420 to the triangle in dead-to-right-center.

So, basically, just as it did in Milwaukee, the curiosity level dropped a few levels after being closed up inside of a dome for about three innings. Although what gives Milwaukee points over Miami, of course, is the bratwurst and the sounds of Bob Uecker in the concourse calling the game on the radio. There was no radio in the Marlins Park concourse, there was no Bob Uecker and there were certainly no brats. But then why would there be?

As for the hometown team, the Marlins, they were in the same funk then that they’re in now, and the night was filled with less than inspired baseball. Although the Blue Jays appeared to be very interested as they built their lead from 3-0 to 6-1 in the fourth (when the “Let’s Go Heat!” chants began) and then to 11-2 in the sixth (when the “Let’s Go Heat!” was at full throttle), on their way to a 12-5 victory.

By that time, though, we were back at a tiki bar on Miami Beach taking in the different kind of humidity, the sound of the trees in the wind and the smell of salt water and seafood.

And looking for Rita Hayworth.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com

 

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