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51 posts from April 2012

April 06, 2012

Win or lose, Ozzie bellies up to the hotel bar afterward

   CINCINNATI -- So how does Ozzie Guillen spend his free time after games when the team's on the road? Here's how he answered that question when I posed it to him before Thursday's game against the Reds:

    "What do I do? What I do when I go anywhere, stay in the hotel bar, get drunk and go to sleep. I don't do anything out in New York. I don't do anything out in Cleveland. I've got my routine. I’ve got my batting practice routine. Game’s over, stay in the lobby of the hotel, the hotel bar, get drunk and go to sleep. I get drunk because I’m happy because we won or get drunk because I’m very sad and disturbed because we lose. Same routine. We do the same routine for 25, 28 years. It hasn’t changed. I don’t like to go out.”

    “How many years have I been going to New York and I never saw the (Twin) Towers in my life. When I go to work, it’s go to work. Hotel, ballpark, ballpark, hotel, sushi place. Golf in the morning. That’s it.” 

    “I don’t have time. I have to be here early, and I go to sleep so drunk I have to recover until 11 o’clock. Why do I have to lie? People have to celebrate. I never get in trouble. You see that? I’m never going to leave the hotel. Nobody can call my wife and see we saw Ozzie in this bar or this place.”

    “I lived in Miami for 12 years and I only went to South Beach three times in my life. I don’t like to go out. People think I like to go out. People think as soon as the game’s over I take my clothes off and say 'Where’s the best bar?' I don’t like that. I just want to relax. I’d rather be in my house with my wife, be on my boat. Even Chicago, not too many people see me out, and I live there. I walk my dog. I have a bar across the street from me. Sit at the bar for a couple of beers and come back.”

    “That’s why I never get in trouble. I get in trouble, I get drunk and somebody talk (expletive) to me it’s a fight. That’s why I prevent that. I’m too little to fight. If I had Stanton’s size, I’d be looking for fights, but I can’t. I might get killed.”

    With Ozzie, I'm not sure how much to believe. I haven't been around him enough to know. My best hunch is that, like a lot of major league managers, coaches and players, he has a few drinks after games at the team hotel and goes to bed. As it turned out, I spotted him leaving a downtown restaurant -- one that's connected to the team hotel -- a few hours after the Marlins' loss yesterday. He was with his wife and family. looking sharp in a suit. He did not appear drunk. 

April 05, 2012

LoMo not in lineup -- as planned

     CINCINNATI -- A lot of tired faces inside the Marlins clubhouse this afternoon, and for obvious reasons. The team didn't get out of Miami after last night's game until 12:30 a.m. and didn't get to their downtown Cincinnati hotel until 3:45 a.m.

      Meanwhile, here in the Queen City, they're revving up for their 136th Opening Day. The festivities include the traditional Opening Day Parade downtown, which is taking place as I write. In addition, as I was walking to Great American Ballpark a few hours ago, the downtown church bells struck up "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at noon sharp. Swear to God....Was hoping to grab a 4-way at Skyline Chili on the way in but, with so many fans milling around for the Reds opener, the line was out the door.

      Today's Marlins' lineup is the same as last night's, with one notable exception. Chris Coghlan will be starting in left instead of Logan Morrison. Manager Ozzie Guillen said that decision was made long before in an effort to go easy on Morrison's sore right knee. Morrison said that, even after playing last night, the knee felt good. But Guillen said he doesn't want to take any chances, and so will continue to give Morrison a day here and there. He said he'll try to do the same with Giancarlo Stanton, who has his own knee issue.

      On another note, Stanton said he thought the second of his two warning-track shots last night, the one to right-center, was a homer when it left the bat and probaby would have gone out in any other park. But, with the roof open at Marlins Park, the ball died and was caught by Jon Jay. Most everyone agrees that the park is "death valley" as far as power when the roof is open, but seems to play fair when it's closed. The roof will pretty much be closed every game once we get into May, if not before.

      With that said, here are the lineups for Game 2 of 162:

      Marlins: 1. Reyes, ss; 2. Bonifacio, cf; 3. Ramirez, 3b; 4. Stanton, rf; 5. Sanchez, 1b; 6. Coghlan, lf; 7. Infante, 2b; 8. Buck, c; 9. Buehrle, p.

      Redlegs: 1. Phillips, 2b; 2. Cozart, ss; 3. Votto, 1b; 4. Rolen, 3b; 5. Bruce, rf; 6. Ludwick, lf; 7. Stubbs, cf; 8. Hanigan, c; 9. Cueto, p.

April 04, 2012

News, notes and pre-game quotes from Opening Night at Marlins Park

The Marlins' opening day payroll of $93.3 million is not only a franchise record, but dwarfs payrolls from many previous seasons, most notably the the $14.9 million total figure for the 2006 team. The previous highest payroll for the Marlins belonged to the 2005 team ($60 million).

The highest earner on the Marlins is pitcher Carlos Zambrano. But the Chicago Cubs are picking up the big chunk of his $18 million salary. In all, the Marlins have 14 players making at least $1 million, and eight topping $5 million.

Not included in the total payroll figure is the $6 million salary Juan Carlos Oviedo is due to earn once he takes care of of his visa issues and is allowed back into the country. But his pro-rated salary will end up being significantly less due to a six-week suspension the league plans to impose on the reliever after he's removed from the restricted list.

> The Marlins finalized their 25-man roster on Wednesday by placing Jose Ceda on the 15-day disabled list and selecting the contract of reliever Chad Gaudin. Ceda was scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, but president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said the surgery was postponed until next week.

> Beinfest said Anibal Sanchez pitched well in a minor-league game in Jupiter on Tuesday, tossing seven strong innings. Sanchez will make his first Marlins start on Monday in Philadelphia.

> Ozzie Guillen spent only one year working at Sun Life Stadium -- the season he served as the third base coach when the Marlins won the World Series in 2003.

He's happy that as the team's new manager he didn't have to drive there Wednesday. "I don't mind driving here every day," Guillen said of Marlins Park.

"I drove to the old ballpark before and it was painful. First of all, I don't know what they called it. Sun Life? Dolphins Stadium? I worked there for a little while. When you looked up to the stands nobody was there. 120 degrees. You had to wait for rain delays. The only good thing about it was you came in quick and you got out quick. In 10 minutes you were back home."

> New ballpark openings are old hat for Austin Kearns.

The reserve outfielder for the Marlins was with the Reds when Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark opened in 2003 and Washington when Nationals Park opened up in '08. In fact, Kearns was the first Red to go deep in their new park and recorded the third hit for the Nationals in their new facility.

"I think opening days are special anywhere, but there's a little extra excitement when there's a new park," Kearns said.

> Zambrano, who will start Sunday in Cincinnati, said the twin 450-gallon fish tanks behind home plate is the feature he enjoys most at Marlins Park. It might even ease him when he's struggling.

"Psychologists say having a fish tank helps you relax and not stress," Zambrano said. "I have a big fish tank in Venezuela. I have like 20 fish. I have small stingrays. One of the fish killed it, so I had to take that fish out and put it in jail."

Zambrano didn't rip the home run sculpture in center field, but insinuated those in other ballparks can be a bit annoying.

"We’ve got the flamingos and birds in center field [in that statue]. I think Stanton will end up killing one of those birds," Zambrano said."

When told of Zambrano's feelings towards other home run sculptures, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said: "Shouldn't have given up so many home runs. Wonder if that was the annoyance?"

> Closer Heath Bell served as a celebrity bartender Sunday at The Clevelander at Marlins Park and joked he received a lot of tips -- which he passed onto the real bartenders -- because he was wearing a tight shirt.

"My favorite drink to serve is Bud Light over the top," Bell said. "Then probably Jack and Coke."

-- CLARK SPENCER AND MANNY NAVARRO

Muhammad Ali delivers ceremonial first ball to the mound at Marlins Park

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali made an appearance for the opening festivities at Marlins Park Wednesday night, delivering the game ball to the mound while riding in a cart alongside owner Jeffrey Loria.

Loria sat alongside, holding Ali's hands as the cart moved in from beyond the center field wall. The sellout crowd of 37,000-plus cheered "Ali! Ali!" as the cart made its way toward the pitching mound.

Ali, 70, trained at the Fifth Street Gym on Miami Beach for many years and is now battling Parkinson's disease. The cart stopped at the mound and Marlins players came over to pose for pictures. Slugger Hanley Ramirez took the ball from Ali and left it on the pitching rubber.

The Marlins did not have anyone through out a ceremonial first pitch. 

Starter Josh Johnson delivered a called strike with the first pitch, a 93-mile per hour fastball, to Rafael Furcal moments later. Catcher John Buck quickly ran over and handed the ball to stadium officials.

Furcal grounded out to Jose Reyes at shortstop, the first official out in Marlins Park history.

Carlos Beltran followed with a single to right field, the first hit in Marlins Park history.

Marlins Park HR sculpture will be big part of Estefan's opening show

Opening Night is finally here and before Josh Johnson throws the first pitch of the game to Rafael Furcal a ceremony will take place on the field at about 6:15 p.m. to help usher in the new era at Marlins Park.

Miami's own Emilio Estefan has a 30-minute pregame program scheduled and let the Miami Herald in on a little secret -- the giant home run sculpture in center field will very much be a part of the show. According to Estefan, it will move in unison with the music.

"The opening is a tribute to the United States and Miami -- all Miami music with a lot of Miami's history," Estefan said. "I put a lot of the last eight months of my life for this -- for 30 minutes. I worked on the Olympics and three Super Bowls, but today is going to provide a lot of pride for me, for my kids and my family."

Every fan will be given a box of tic tac mints to use as instruments so they can play along.

April 03, 2012

Spooky: Did a photo taken 18 years ago predict the Marlins' future?

   Received an email this week from a Texas man, Scott Rose, who attached a grainy photo that was taken of him at the old Arlington Stadium, former home of the Rangers. He pointed out a peculiarity in the photo that reminded me of an old "Twilight Zone" episode," one involving a camera that takes pictures of the future. In one particular scene, the camera is pointed at a racetrack toteboard before a race and the result is a photo showing the eventual winning horses and payoffs. The camera's owner strikes it rich, of course. Later on, the camera takes a photo that predicts a tragic ending for one of the characters, followed by Rod Serling's postscript.

   Anyway, here's what Rose had to say about the photo, which he said was taken in February, 1994, during the Rangers' version of FanFest and has been sitting on his office credenza ever since:

   "I was goofing around on the field and my wife took this picture of me "leaping" to make a catch at the left field wall.  The scoreboard operator had set the out of town scoreboard for the opening day games, but in the upper right hand corner you will see that he made a mistake.  FLA is listed as MIA.  I have also researched it and found that the opponent listed is also incorrect. TheMa rlins' opening day game that year was against the Dodgers.

    "It is very interesting that not only did the operator call the Marlins the MIA Marlins, he also stated that they were hosting STL.  Either he was as bad an operator as the Rangers were a baseball team back then, or he was simply predicting what would happen on Opening Day, 2012:  STL @ MIA"

    Here's the photo. Look carefully at the upper right-hand corner of the scoreboard, where you'll see what Rose is talking about. You can click on the photo to make it larger. What do you think? San Antonio-20120330-00080-5

April 02, 2012

Fans can visit Marlins Park for free Tuesday, catch Fish-Cards practice

If you ever want to see Mike Stanton take batting practice for free, now is your chance.

Starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday Marlins Park will be open to the public as the Marlins and Cardinals prepare for Wednesday night's season opener with workouts.

The Cardinals will practice first from 4 to 5:30. The Marlins will then take the field at 6 p.m.

GUILLEN GUSHES OVER JETER

Manager Ozzie Guillen has three sons, but talked a lot Monday about the 22-year old daughter he wished he had - one to marry and bear the children of Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

“He’s got everything. He’s single. Good-looking man, captain of the New York Yankees. A lot of rings, a lot of money," Guillen said. "I looked at him in the All-Star Game -- not even an ingrown toe-nail! Everything is perfect. That's what you want in a baseball player.”

Guillen said there isn't a player better than the 37-year old, 12-time All-Star "in the history of the game."

"Nobody represents baseball better than that guy, nobody. Not Mickey Mantle, Not Babe Ruth, Not Willie Mays,” Guillen said.

“And we all respect the Hall of Famers and the people who played in the past and who were great for this game. Derek Jeter is in the top two." Asked to clarify who the other top player is aside from Jeter, Guillen replied: “Me,” before breaking into laughter. “You don’t see any player walk to the field and get a standing ovation just when we goes to stretch, and that guy does,” he said.

“This guy is God, a baseball god."

> Finnegan’s River, located on the Miami River, is serving as one of four stops for the Miami Water Taxi and has made arrangements to provide service to and from Marlins Park on opening day and other big games. The water taxi will leave the restaurant/bar an hour before the game and return 30 minutes following the game. The drop off spot is two blocks from the stadium. The cost for roundtrip service is $10 per person and includes a free beer.

Marlins Park retractable roof hit a glitch Saturday

The retractable roof is brand new, but it's not perfect.

Saturday, Marlins Park personnel experienced their first hiccup with the 8,000-ton moving roof when a sensor malfunction delayed its closing for 10 minutes during a heavy rain storm, leaving the field wet and soggy before Sunday's exhibition game with the Yankees.

"There was a period Saturday where we locked it in one area after we had a sensor go off," said Claude Delorme, the team's Executive Vice President for Operations and Events. "We wanted to make sure we got clearance and then we continued to close it. It was purely a precautionary measure."

Delorme said the roof was being left open Saturday so the grass could receive sun and some rain should it come. But when afternoon storms intensified, Delorme said, personnel decided to close it.

"Delays like that can happen time to time for whatever reason," Delorme said. "The point is to try and protect the roof from being damaged."

It takes 13 minutes for the roof to close, according to Delorme, once the brakes are removed by stadium personnel. "It basically takes 20 minutes total once we decide we want to close it," Delorme said. "The first seven minutes are sending the personnel up there to prepare for it to close."

The Marlins have yet to play a game with the roof open, but will attempt to tonight against the Yankees. With the temperature at 89 degrees and the humidity at 55 percent, Marlins President David Samson said the team decided to close it Monday afternoon with the hope the stadium would cool down in time for first pitch.

Samson said he, Delorme and two other members of Marlins personnel will meet at 3:30 p.m. before every night game at Marlins Park to decide whether to leave the roof open or closed. The guidelines to leave the roof open: temperatures inside the stadium won't go higher than 80 degrees and the humidity won't be higher than 60 percent. 

"Anything over that, there's no chance [we'll leave it open]," Samson said. "We also have to factor in wind and relative humidity."

> Former starting pitcher Javier Vazquez visited the team during batting practice Monday with his son. Vazquez, 35, said he doesn't want to say he's retired, but "I don't have an itch" to return. Vazquez said he's going to stick around and watch the Marlins tonight, but will be at the Heat-Thunder game on Wednesday. 

Yellow Submarine: the Big Apple's take on Marlins Park

    With the Yankees in town and Opening Day just around the corner, there's much to read in New York this morning on the Marlins and their new ballpark.

    Check out what they had to say:

    -- Tyler Kepner of The New York Times wrote that the home run sculpture is a "soaring center-field edifice" that seems only to be lacking the Beatles' yellow submarine.

    -- Bill Madden of the New York Daily News mentioned that Yankees manager Joe Girardi was denied entrance to his own "media-only" press conference, one of several minor glitches at yesterday's game. 

    -- Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes that the "ballpark is spectacular and has that South Beach splash."

    -- Last but not least, The New Yorker's Ben McGrath weighs in on the new-look Marlins in the April 9 issue of the magazine. Here's the abstract from his article.

April 01, 2012

Marlins Park off-site parking guide

In case you missed it, our news staff put together a great chart in today's paper regarding the additional 3,000 off-site parking spots surrounding Marlins Park. 

Included are how exact addresses you punch into your GPS, number of spaces per lot, prices, distance to the stadium and potential ways to get to Marlins Park from that lot.

OFF-SITE MARLINS PARKING

Marlins Off-site Parking1. Kristi House Lot, 1355 NW 12th Ave; 232 spaces; $10; 0.6 miles from stadium; free city of Miami trolley or MDT Bus Route 12

2. Civic Center Jury Lot, 1255 NW 11th St; 176 spaces; $10; 0.5 miles from stadium; free shuttle

3. Civic Center Lot 26, 1355 NW 12th St; 250 spaces; $10; 0.8 miles from stadium; free shuttle

4. Mahi Shrine Parking, 1480 NW North River Dr; 385 spaces; $10; 0.8 miles; free shuttle

5. Highland Park Garage, 1801 NW Ninth Ave; 250 spaces, $8; 1.3 miles from stadium; free trolley

6. Park Plaza West Garage, 1140 NW 16th St; $8; 1.25 miles from stadium; free trolley

7. RAD Property, 1001 NW Seventh St; 450 spaces; $10; 0.4 miles from stadium

8. Lyons Lot, 1234 NW Seventh St; 100 spaces; $25+; 2 blocks; walkable

9. Cardona Medical Center, 1390 NW Seventh St; 50 spaces; market parking fees; 1 block

10. Robert King High, 1401 NW Seventh St; 75 spaces; $20; 1 block

11. Walgreens, 1699 NW Seventh St; 50 spaces; $25 to $33; 1 block

12. *St John Bosco Church, 1358 NW First St; 200 spaces; $15; 3 blocks

13. Suntrust Bank, 100 NW 12th Ave; 50 spaces; $25 to $33; 3.5 blocks

14. **Magic City Casino, 450 NW 37th Ave; 500 spaces; free; 2.1 miles; $5 shuttle