How Awkward Was Muhammad Ali's First Pitch Last Night?
Ali and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.
via You Tube
On the opening night of the Marlins new ballpark, a lot of things went right: Parking wasn't a catastrophe. The weather was South Florida perfection. On national TV, the new ballpark looked damned gorgeous -- lime green facades, swimming polls and all. And in the best news of the night, no Marlins went yard, so baseball fans were spared exposure to the water-belching, Marlins-shaped eye-stabber in left.
But let's talk about that first pitch. Bringing out Muhammad Ali, a legend with a strong Miami tie, in theory must have seemed like a great idea. In practice? Oy, was that awkward.
Within a few minutes of Ali emerging in a golf cart from an outfield tunnel with less-than-universally beloved Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, it was evident that the move might be tough to pull off.
As the cart trundled slowly across the outfield grass, Loria grinned manically and seemed to grip Ali's trembling arms in an ever-more-desperate grasp. The crowd quickly fell into uncomfortable silence.
The announcer tried to restart some enthusiasm with an "Ali, Ali!" chant, but then the cart reached the infield and silence again descended as Hanley Ramirez tried to wedge a ball into Ali's shaking hand.
Ali's an American icon, and it's always great to see the 70-year-old in public and greeted by a cheering crowd. But this? Deadspin nailed how many felt watching the moment: it was tough to feel celebratory about "the sad, shameless sight of Loria trotting out Ali's disease-ravaged body for a forced on-field ceremony."
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