- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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MIAMI -- Like all new ballparks, brand-new Marlins Park in downtown Miami has its share of silliness.
There's really no need for fish tanks between the fans and the ballplayers behind home plate, especially since the only people who can really see them are the lucky ones in the very front row. And besides, the red clay from the warning track constantly kicks up on the glass, obscuring the little fishies' view of the game.
The curving section of the center-field fence is either an inside-the-park home run or a video review waiting to happen, and I can't imagine the function of that rococo monstrosity beyond it -- the thing that looks like a rainbow over a pair of pink flamingos.
But the ballpark has its share of astonishingly cool features, like the giant HD screens, the huge windows in the outfield that offer a panorama of the Miami skyline, and the replica of the Clevelander hotel beyond the left-field wall. It seems like a really fun place to see a ballgame.
And Marlins Park also has one feature every new park should have: a retractable roof.
Which translates to three important words: No more rainouts.
So will someone tell me again why neither Citi Field nor the new Yankee Stadium came equipped with one?
I understand that you get a lot more for your -- and the taxpayers' -- money in Florida than you do in New York.
But just walking around Marlins Park before Sunday's spring training game and seeing how much Jeffrey Loria got for his $515 million -- ballpark, fish tanks and retractable roof -- compared with what the Yankees and Mets got in 2009 for their combined $2.4 billion ($1.6 billion of which was spent by the Yankees), well, it makes you wonder just who the suckers are.
I've heard all the arguments both teams made against roofing in their ballparks at the time. It would have added too much to the costs ($250 million for the Yankees, $150 million to the Mets).
It would have detracted from the aesthetics of the parks. (The Yankees wanted their new park to look like the old Yankee Stadium. The Mets apparently wanted theirs to look like Ebbets Field.)
And baseball is meant to be played outdoors, anyway.
That last point, I agree with. And in New York -- unlike in Miami -- on most days it would be.
It turns out that the reason senior citizens love Miami is the same reason baseball fans hate it: every day it's either oppressively hot, raining or both. The Marlins absolutely need a roof on their ballpark, and the retractability function wasn't even necessary, since it will be closed for just about every day game and quite a few nights.
In New York, you might use it only 10 times a year, but at least your fans will know that every night a game is scheduled, that game will be played. No longer would they be subjected to those horrendous two-, three- or even four-hour rain delays.
And on the flip side, never again would they call a game based on an advance forecast that turns out to be completely wrong, which has happened more than once in the past few years.
Plus, in October, when the most important games are played in New York (well, in the Bronx, anyway), you not only protect your fans from what can be pretty rough weather -- remember Chone Figgins dressed like a bobsledder during the 2009 American League Championship Series? -- you also guarantee that those games, and the chances of your team, are not compromised by the elements.
Really, there's no excuse for any new ballpark built in an area in which rain is a factor (i.e., anywhere but Phoenix or Southern California) to come without a cover. The technology has been perfected well enough now so that it is no longer an agonizingly slow process for the park to don or doff its cap, and unlike bygone indoor monstrosities like the Metrodome, the new domes are actually not too bad to look at.
The one I looked at all day Sunday seemed pretty cool, and the Yankees' outfielders all mentioned how easy it was to see the ball against the backdrop.
Best of all, when they showed up for work that morning, they knew they were going to do what they came to do: Play a baseball game.
The city of Miami can't guarantee that its Marlins will win them all, but at least it can guarantee they will play them all, as scheduled.
Shouldn't New York have been able to make the same claim?
Ballpark envy in Miami: New York deserved freedom from rain delays, too.