Apparently Derek Jeter is dedicated to tearing down everything to do with the old Miami Marlins, and he’s still working to rid Marlins Park of the whimsical Red Grooms sculpture, Homer, from the ballpark — and he may have some help from Miami’s mayor.
Admittedly, Homer has never been a beloved part of the Marlins game experience; a Venn chart of Art Basel and Miami Marlins game attendees probably has little overlap, especially if you take Jeffrey Loria and his family out of the equation. But we’ve always had a soft spot for the sculpture, as it’s surely one of the most unique ballpark features out there. After all, we’re talking Miami here — a place of excess, loud colors and in-your-face attractions. If anything, to fit more into the local Miami community, Marlins Park needs more excess, not less: it needs a hundred more Homers, not one fewer.
But Jeter has declared war on Homer. One of the first things he said after his group acquired the Marlins was to call for the removal of Homer, but that quest quickly ended when he learned the sculpture, while purchased by art dealer Loria, was actually owned by Miami-Dade County as part of its public-art program. And while that quieted discussion of removing the sculpture temporarily, Jeter and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez may be reviving those removal talks. From the Miami Herald:
Michael Hernández, Gimenez’s spokesman, would not reveal the meeting’s agenda or say if the home run sculpture was on the table.
“Mayor Gimenez is touring Marlins Park with the new team management,” he said.
Gimenez, who voted against the Marlins funding plan as a county commissioner and openly feuded with team management under Loria, is already on record as not being a fan of “Homer.”
“Mayor Gimenez appreciates art in public places,” Hernández said in August. “That particular structure, not so much.”
This does raise a larger issue: how much Jeter is willing to push the envelope to develop a fan base. The team already traded away its biggest star and key players this offseason, and no one really sees the Marlins competing in 2018. If you’re not going to field a competitive team, you need to reward the fans with something if they pay big bucks for a ballpark experience. Embracing a unique feature like Homer can be a part of that.
Image courtesy Miami Marlins.
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