Marlins threaten to leave Miami
Speaking on behalf of team owner Jeffrey Loria (vacationing in Europe) on Tuesday, Florida Marlins president David Samson made plain his intentions to look elsewhere for a permanent home: "Baseball is no longer assured of staying in [South] Florida." After failing to persuade state and local governments to contribute enough funds to build a new baseball stadium with a retractable roof next to the Orange Bowl, it appears that the "project is now dead." Samson emphasized, "I will tell you now, unequivocally, that we will not sign an extension, even if it is offered, to continue to play in this building [Dolphins Stadium]. We simply must play in a baseball-only stadium." Their lease expires after 2007, and the Dolphins told them they must be out by [the end of] 2010. The Marlins have already received permission from Major League Baseball to explore other home cities, in a process that seems somewhat more expedited than the Montreal-to-Washington move. See the Marlins Web site.
The immediate effect of the franchise's uncertain future is that its top players have been traded away. Pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell are heading to Boston, while first-baseman Carlos Delgado is joining the Mets. The Nationals are still pursuing pitcher A.J. Burnett, but that's a long shot. Once again, the Marlins are having a "fire sale," leaving baseball fans in south Florida without much to look forward to next year. It's sad that a team that has won two World Series in its short (13-year) life span hasn't received more public support, but that may simply reflect that tropical Florida is not a good place for sports in the summer.
As for the future, Portland is the most likely new home, though the team name would no longer be appropriate in the North Pacific. What about the Portland Salmon? And if Portland doesn't work out, Mr. Loria may still have some friends up in Montreal. Wouldn't that be ironic?
Prompted by the latest dust-up in Miami, I have created a new table of "Stadium prospects" that shows the 13 current baseball stadiums whose long-term future is open to question. It's sort of a "snapshot" of the current situation of major league ballparks and franchises. The "expected life" (my best guess, basically) and "relocation probability" are shown for each team / stadium. The 35% probability of the Marlins relocating away from Miami reflects the fact that the ongoing showdown (blackmail?) is typical negotiating behavior in baseball these days, and I assume that the two sides will probably comes to their senses, and come to terms. I will remove Busch Stadium II from that list as soon as I add a new page for Busch Stadium III, which is under construction.
Odd 'n ends...
While watching the movie Anger Management (starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler) last night on FOX, I noticed that an extended scene was filmed in Yankee Stadium, so I've updated that page with said cinematic information.
Bruce Orser came across a Web page for Oaks Park, where the PCL Oakland Oaks used to play, as well as a book: Runs, Hits, and an Era: The Pacific Coast League, 1903-58 (1994), by Paul J. Zingg / Mark D. Medeiros. It's available from highboskage.com.