Former Yankees captain, future Hall of Famer and professional Pitbull impersonator Derek Jeter will soon add a new fancy title to that list: MLB team owner. As part of a group headed by billionaire Florida businessman Bruce Sherman, Jeter will be buying the Miami Marlins from bloated plutocrat Jeffrey Loria for a staggering $1.2 billion, and despite putting in only $25 million himself (or roughly 2% of the total sale price), he'll be the man in charge of the franchise as its new CEO. And, according to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman, Jeter already has one huge change in mind for Marlins Park.
One thing someone connected to the Jeter group has suggested will likely go: the home run sculpture in left-center field that was designed by artist Red Grooms and has been the subject of controversy.
As an owner, it's entirely up to Jeter as to what he wants to keep about his team's home and what he wants to throw into the Everglades. But to get rid of the home run sculpture—or, as it's informally known, the Miami Dinger Machine—would be heartless and cruel. Marlins Park is many things: a hideous ripoff of Miami-Dade taxpayers; a spaceship-looking piece of weirdness plopped into the middle of a residential area; and usually empty. But the stadium is also a brilliant distillation of all things Miami: It's garish, overpriced, air conditioned to the point of becoming a meat freezer, and disdained by the locals. And the home run sculpture is a perfect symbol for that park, looking as it does like one of Lisa Frank's more out-there nightmares. Honestly, how can you say no to this?
It lights up and shoots water! It has crazy-looking fish on it! Dee Gordon may or may not live inside of it! You can't possibly get rid of that thing. Hell, half the fun of this year's Home Run Derby at Marlins Park was watching Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton ping that thing with dingers as if it were the golf ball picking cart at a driving range.
To get rid of the home run sculpture is to spit upon exactly what it is that makes Marlins Park emblematic of both the franchise and the city. It's silly, it's goofy, it doesn't get used very often, and the color scheme is horrible, but that's what's special about it. It would be a shame if Jeets and company did away with it in a quest to make the park a sterile South Florida copy of Yankee Stadium and its "abandoned hospital in a zombie apocalypse" style.
The Marlins need many, many, many things about them fixed or changed, but this isn't one of them. Save the Dinger Machine, Derek. It'll be the best thing you ever do as the Marlins' owner.