The only thing worse than the way professional sports has become way too much professional and way too little sports is how the pay for players has reached such astronomical heights that baseball can hardly be considered a game any longer. That and how pitch-counts and skill-specialization have removed most of the spontaneity and fun. And the only thing worse than the way big money has changed big-time sports such as Major League Baseball is how the pundits like to whine and moan about how big money has changed big-time sports.
Screw that. Give us a seat in the bleachers and a box of Cracker Jack and let's get on with it. The Florida Marlins play their home opener (paradoxically in a place called Dolphins Stadium, 2267 Dan Marino Blvd., North Miami-Dade) against the Atlanta Braves at 4:05 this afternoon. Oddly, the Braves, with their great winning tradition, and the Marlins, who won the 100th World Series in 2003, might end up chasing the -- wait for it -- New York Mets this season. The Mets look mighty tough, but the Marlins have a solid team led by a powerful starting-pitcher rotation. Josh Beckett (left), he of the 98 mph fastball and winner of the MVP award in the '03 Series, gets the start, but A. J. Burnett and the other Marlin mound men are also top gunners. Ticket prices range from $8 in the fish-tank section to $42 for club seats, but let's not get into the money thing. Call 305-623-6100, or visit www.floridamarlins.com. --Greg Baker
You can grind if you want to today at Control Skatepark's (380 NW 24th St., Miami) skateboarding contest. Control owner and event organizer Matt Cantor says everyone should come out and skate even if they're new to the sport. The contest is open to beginning, intermediate, and advanced level skaters. "We do this for the kids to have a good time ... and try [tricks] they haven't tried before," says Cantor. Skaters will have a chance to win prizes from sponsors including Zoo York, Zero, and Habitat. The park opens at noon for practice and registration, and the competition starts at 2:00. The entry fee is ten dollars. Call 305-576-9012, or visit www.controlskateboarding.com. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
Ready? O-kay! Get out your pompons and tiny pleated skirts to show your spirit at the 2005 Florida State Cheerleading Championships hosted by the Florida Cheer and Dance Association. Although a Texas legislator recently filed a bill to ban sexually suggestive bump-and-grind moves from school cheer and dance squads, these Sunshine State teams plan to bring their sassiest jumps, kicks, and flips to the floor. The basket-tosses and backflips begin at 9:00 a.m. and tumble until 5:00 today and Sunday at the James L. Knight Center, 400 SE Second Ave., Miami. Admission is $12 each day or $20 for both days. Call 1-888-468-3232, or visit www.floridacheer.com. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
Big Fish Party
Fishing poles won't be provided to catch your own lunch, even though the Deering Seafood Festival on the Bay is being held, appropriately, right on Biscayne Bay at Deering Estate at Cutler (15701 SW 72nd Ave., Palmetto Bay). It may even be the first seafood festival to sell beef and chicken in addition to lobster-stuffed ravioli, shrimp chili, and conch fritters with mango relish. Instead of digging for clams, the day will feature a mock archaeological dig, which will not be conducted on the Tequesta Burial Grounds located on the estate. Go fish today from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tickets range from $5 to $15. Call 305-233-5858, or visit www.deeringestate.com. -- Karen Dale Wolman