It seems like every editorial cartoon in the nation today is railing against the AIG bonuses that our government has allowed to flow the way of their chief executives. Later today, the Miami City Commission will vote on whether to fund a new stadium for the Florida Marlins. If they do, they will become the Miami Marlins.
If baseball proved anything this past weekend at Dolphins Stadium, it established an ethnic intensity for the game that will probably let it thrive in a small community like Little Havana. As a Broward resident, as much as I hate to admit it, baseball in Miami will succeed if the team pushes to sign players from South America like a Miguel Cabrera. And if they can hold on to them. Many of the players love playing in South Florida. But they have been playing in a mausoleum without a baseball identity. Before they reach that issue though, the city commission has to insure the contracts offered to management do not risk public distrust or disfavor. They have to be fair to the taxpayers.
Towards that end, you have to applaud the team and David Samson for conducting itself with dignity, negotiating and bartering fairly, and not trying to hold the city hostage, maintaining always his goal is to keep baseball in South Florida. He has maintained an outward professionalism and cool even in the face of last minute arbitrary demands imposed by city commissioners, hopefully ones which will be pushed not to line their pockets but for the good of the city.
If the Marlins do not succeed, it will not be for their lack of will or lack of good faith. They have been more than fair. But if they do fail, they will have been a victim of their times, a victim of AIG executives they never met, and commissioners understandably distrustful of using public monies to fund private interests. Sadly, if that occurs, a hometown baseball team might or will be lost to South Florida forever because of what happened last year on Wall Street.
A baseball stadium is a bonus for an entire community, not just chief executives. It is more than who builds it and who gets jobs from it. The stadium becomes a source of year round pride for the team and its fans who visit it with their friends, neighbors, and families. It becomes the epicenter of dreams for young kids who go to the field and run the bases, for the seniors who look back on the days that were, for the dads playing catch with their sons, for the busy executives winding down a hard day.
It is a diamond for sure, but one for more than just the players who grace the field and the owners who manage the team. It can be a gemstone for an entire city over generations. Miami has a chance today to do something that will make its recurring generations of children happy for years. Those little kids growing up may not go to operas, may not get on cruise ships, and may not be able to afford $150 for the privileged basketball seats at the high priced American Airlines Arena. But they will always be able to afford a hot dog and a bleacher seat for ten bucks at a baseball game. The stadium is about the dreams of little children, and that is why it should be built and supported by the Miami City Commission.
Finally, I guess I realize that is why so many of us find a place in our heart for a new stadium. Ultimately, in this grown up world of sleaze and corruption and chaos, we find a small place where we are all little children. We want to run the bases too.