It’s the last time the Philadelphia Phillies will ever play baseball at Sun Life Stadium in the greater Miami area of Florida. The Florida Marlins are having a new stadium built in Miami that will be ready for the 2012 baseball season. As a die-hard Philadelphia Phillies fan, I figured I should take this opportunity to go see my Phillies play at an extremely discounted ticket price. My brother, back in New Jersey, coaxed me on, by asking why I wasn’t going to the Marlins games to watch the Phillies play in Florida? I didn’t really have an excuse. I immediately went online and purchased 2 tickets behind the visitors dugout (the Phillies dugout for this game) for Aracely and I for the next morning.
Upon arriving to the game to see the great ‘Doc’ Halladay pitch for the Phillies, I noticed obvious contrasts between this ballpark and the Philadelphia ballpark (Citizens Bank Park). First, there was no one there.
The former Joe Robbie stadium was huge, but the open parking lots made it seem even bigger. We paid our $10 and pulled within 5 spots of the stadium perimeter. Basically we were 50 feet from the entrance to the stadium.
There were a few, mostly just couples grilling and a father and son having a catch. The rowdiness you find in Philly just doesn’t exist here. It’s not just because it’s Miami, it’s because the Florida Marlins stink. When the Phillies stunk, no one came to see them either, so I understand. But, what is unusual is that the majority of the fans attending the game were Phillies fans. I estimate 80% of the fans to be Philly fans. That’s a bit crazy. And that’s where the entire experience seemed awkward, almost like the bizarro world of Seinfeld. Everywhere we looked, red dominated the color spectrum.
These were the best seats I have ever had at a Major League Baseball game. We started 12 rows behind the visitors dugout. Every few innings we crept closer to the wall. With our telephoto lens, I was able to get some incredible pictures of the players batting.
Before the game we were able to watch the great Roy Halladay warm up. He remains extremely focused during his warmups, avoiding all fan contact. Even with dozens of cameras snapping in his face, he doesn’t flinch.
Philadelphia Phillies First Baseman Ryan Howard
Philadelphia Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel
During the 6th inning, newly acquired outfielder Hunter Pence hit a ball that lined to the right field wall. The Marlins outfielder made an attempt to jump up and catch the ball high on the wall, but fans reached over the railing and interfered with the catch. As I stated earlier, there was a majority of Phillies fans in the stands that evening. Well, those fans didn’t want that Marlins outfielder catching the ball. After a video replay review the umpires ruled the double an automatic out. Unfortunately for the umpires, this is not a reviewable play and Philadelphia Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel made sure to make that point clear before getting ejected from the game.
Philadelphia Phillies Second Baseman Chase Utley
The Longest Game…
After the young Phillies bullpen gave up the tying run, things got very tense. It was a hot day. We were drenched in humidity from Southern Florida’s tropical weather, recovering from an inning long down pour and now we had to last into extra innings. We stopped complaining as soon as things got interesting. The Phillies pitchers, or should I say Herndon, was struggling as usual and in what seemed like every inning, had a Marlins baserunner on 3rd base ready to score. Miraculously, we got out of it 4 innings. In the last inning after 14, our luck ran out and the Marlins won the hard fought game.
Aracely and I watched the last few innings while sitting in the first row of seats behind the Phillies dugout. As the Phillies came in to the dugout each inning, it was almost as if we could have a conversation with them. And sometimes we did, with just a simple, “Amazing Catch Raul!” This was a ballgame I will never forget.
Not many baseball teams can say they have a cheerleading squad. Cudos to the Florida Marlins. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Miami.