May 8, 2005
Rockies 8, Marlins 3
W: Jeff Francis
L: Al Leiter
HR: Clint Barmes (COL), Aaron Miles (COL)
Time of Game: 2 hours, 46 minutes
Location: Miami, FL
First Game: April 5, 1993
After the Friday night game in Atlanta, I drove for a few hours and spend the night in middle of nowhere Georgia. On Saturday, I completed the rest of the drive to South Florida. The total drive from DC to Miami wound up being well over 1,000 miles. It doesn't seem like it would be quite that far, but the drive all the way along the eastern coast of Florida is quite a long haul by itself. Fortunately, I had a full day to make the trip since I wasn't planning on going to the Marlins game until Sunday afternoon.
Since their inception in 1993, the Florida Marlins have called Dolphins Stadium their home. Actually, that isn't quite true since the stadium has had many names over the years. Here's the rundown: Joe Robbie Stadium ('87-'96), Pro Player Stadium ('96-'05), Dolphins Stadium ('05-'06), Dolphin Stadium ('06-present). I do not know why the 's' was dropped from the name in 2006, however I will use the name Dolphins Stadium since that is what it was called when I visited. Originally built for the Miami Dolphins, slight modifications were made to accommodate the expansion Marlins. The stadium is kind of in an unusual location, in a largely residential area quite a ways from downtown Miami. There is plenty of parking surrounding the stadium, but not a ton in the way of bars and restaurants in the area.
I have never been to Dolphins Stadium for a football game, but I suspect it is a pretty decent facility for that. However, when it comes to baseball, the stadium does not have much of anything to like. It is an enormous stadium, completely enclosed with an upper deck all the way around. Most of the upper deck seats are closed off for baseball, making the capacity less than 40,000. Not that it matters since the Marlins never come anywhere close to filling it anyway. The unfilled orange seats throughout the park don't exactly create a cozy feel to the place either.
I guess the amenities and concessions are decent, but there is no view of the playing field from the concourse anywhere in the stadium. The seating arrangement is absolutely designed for football more so than baseball. The upper deck does not hang over the lower level at all, which means the upper deck seats are quite a distance from the playing field. Again, this would be more of a problem if the Marlins ever had enough people to actually occupy those seats. The only difference between the football and baseball seating configurations are the lower level seats in left field are pushed back behind the semi-short porch "Teal Monster" wall.
The oval shape of the stadium creates some interesting nooks and crannies in the playing field. The straight away center field wall is just over 400 feet from the plate, however the left and right centerfield corners are considerable deeper. It really takes a bomb to get out of the park in most parts of centerfield. Left field is considerably easier to hit home runs, but the large wall does take away some homers. Overall, this is not an easy park to hit home runs in.
I will give the Marlins credit for making their tickets very affordable. My seat was just a few sections beyond first base, down near the field, and the ticket only cost $20. Despite the fact that this was a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon game the paid attendance was just over 17,000 with far fewer than that actually present. The temperature was 81 degrees at first pitch, but I'm pretty sure it got up to the upper 80's later in the game. I got quite a sunburn from roasting in the sun for three hours.
This game featured the two teams teams that entered the league in 1993. Up to 2005, they had very different paths of success though. The Marlins might be the most charmed franchise in sports. Despite an apathetic fan base and cheap ownership, they won two World Series championships in their first eleven years of existence. Following both of their titles, they dumped most of their high priced talent. So the 2005 team was not very similar to the team that won it all just two years earlier. They were still quite competitive though. The same could not be said for the Rockies who entered this game with the worst record in baseball at 6-21. They lost the first two games of this series to extend their losing streak to an embarrassing 10 games. That streak came to an end on this day though.
Two good left handed pitchers started this game: Jeff Francis for the Rockies and Al Leiter for the Marlins. Juan Pierre started his impressive day with a single off of Francis in the bottom of the first. He then stole second and third bases and scored on a Luis Castillo double to give the Marlins a 1-0 lead. Leiter struggled in this one though, and coughed up the lead in the second. Clint Barmes hit a sinking liner to right field, which Juan Encarnacion dove to make the catch, but missed it as the ball rolled to the wall. Barmes hustled around the bases for a three run, inside the park home run to give the Rockies a 4-1 lead.
Things got far worse for Leiter in the fourth inning. The diminutive Aaron Miles slugged a grand slam home run to left field to break the game wide open at 8-1 Rockies. The Marlins scratched out a couple runs later in the game, but the Rockies won by a final score of 8-3. Francis picked up the win with 6 2/3 quality innings. Overshadowed by the two big home runs was an impressive game by the Marlins' Pierre. He went five for five, all singles, and stole three bases. Unfortunately for him, he didn't get much help as the rest of the team recorded just four hits.
The 2005 Marlins exceeded expectations like they usually do, and finished above .500. They came in third in the NL East though. Meanwhile, the Rockies did get better as the season progressed, yet finished in last place with 95 losses. This victory snapped that 10 game losing streak, which surpassed an 8 game losing streak in April. This game was only the Rockies third win of the season away from Denver.
I'm glad to hear the Marlins recently completed a deal to have a new stadium built in the Miami area in the near future. While there is physically nothing wrong with Dolphins Stadium, it was clearly built for football and lacks all of the charm that most baseball stadiums provide. Hopefully they will build a little more support within the community too, because they usually manage to put a competitive product on the field, despite their best efforts to keep their payroll as low as possible.
Next stadium: Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay