March 24, 2009 [LINK / comment]
Miami stadium gets approved
At long last, there is joy in Miami-ville! After years of back-and-forth negotiations and many bleak moments when it seemed that all hope had gone, funding for a new Marlins baseball stadium won approval from the Miami-Dade County commissioners yesterday. (The Miami city council had given its OK last week.) MLB President Bob DuPuy attended the meeting; he has been the league's point man for persuading reluctant local governments to pass funding measures for new baseball stadiums. Groundbreaking at the site where the Orange Bowl used to stand is expected to begin in June. The retractable-roof stadium will have a capacity of 37,000 seats, and including the parking facilities, the project is expected to cost $625 million altogether. Once they move in to their new home, the Florida Marlins will officially become the Miami Marlins, which is what they should have been called all along. See MLB.com, which observed:
The Marlins will seek hosting the finals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. And the organization is confident it will be awarded an MLB All-Star Game within a few years after the doors in the new park are open.
Maybe they shouldn't count their chickens before they're hatched, however. As cities such as San Diego and Washington have found, political opponents can create all sorts of roadblocks and delays even after "final" approval has been granted. At yesterday's meeting in Miami, several protesters were arrested for causing disruption. Some wore shirts that read: "No bailout for the Marlins." See the photo gallery. (It's not a "bailout," it's a stimulus package! ) As for Norman Braman, it is safe to say that all he accomplished with his lawsuit was delaying the opening of the new stadium by one year.
What does this mean for the Marlins? As the Miami Herald notes, rain delays will be a thing of the past. Also:
The Marlins have always traded away their higher-salaried players in the past, much to the chagrin of fans.
But with the added revenue the club is expected to take in from a new stadium, that low-budget philosophy is expected to change. Payroll, the lowest in the majors four years running, should increase.
Whether they can match their unusual degree of success they achieved in the 1997 and 2003 World Series remains to be seen. In any case, this leaves just two franchises that are still trying to get new stadiums built: the Athletics and the Rays.
Japan retains WBC title
Now that was one heckuva good ball game last night, between two worthy and well-matched teams. Japan finally emerged triumphant, 5-3, successfully defending the world championship it had first won three years ago. How appropriate that their biggest star in the U.S., Ichiro Suzuki, was the hero, batting in the winning run(s) in the top of the tenth inning. Daisuke Matsuzaka was named the WBC MVP. The would-be hero for Korea was Bum Ho Lee, who drove in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs, no less. The fans in Seoul were ecstatic, but in the end, it didn't matter. Yu Darvish (what an un-Japanese name; do they call him "Whirling Darvish"?) blew the save in the ninth inning, but returned in the tenth and got credited for the win. Congratulations to Japan for their team's superb level of play and competitive spirit. See MLB.com. Commissioner Bud Selig hailed the dramatic conclusion, saying the future WBCs will be even better. Wisely, he decided not to abruptly halt the game when it went into extra innings.
I noticed that most of the Korean players are either named "Kim," "Park," or "Lee." You can't even tell the players with a scorecard! I tried my best to stay up and watch the whole thing, but when Korea tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, sending it into extra innings, I called it quits, and just missed Ichiro's heroics. D'oh!!!
The mail bag
Sean Holland tells me that the reconfiguration of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, such that the cars pass right through Foro Sol rather than go around it as originally designed, was a result of the split of Indy car racing several years ago. He found a detailed track map showing that at autoracing1.com.