"Every Day is Fan Appreciation Day"

The sign hangs over a locked turnstile outside Dolphin Stadium, gently mocking hundreds of Marlins fans trapped in a winding gauntlet of fences protecting the handful of ticket sellers at Wednesday's divisional showdown against the Mets.

Lightning flashes. Torrents of rain darken the horizon. Clouds circle overhead. The line creeps forward two feet.

Welcome to Fan Appreciation Day, Dolphin Stadium style.

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Why are the Marlins last in the NL in attendance again? Even the damn Pirates are drawing 4,000 more fans to every game. And they haven't contended since Barry Bonds weighed 185 pounds.

Still, fans who braved the indignities -- (Does the ticket seller really have to bark at fans for not hearing her mumbled questions through two panes of bulletproof glass? And would it kill the Marlins to sell a few more cheapo upper-deck seats for midweek games?) -- saw quite a baseball contest.

The Marlins continued their season-long Bash Brothers impersonation (minus the 'roids, natch) spanking Mets pitching for seven extra-base hits.

Dan Uggla aided his campaign to make everyone forget all the "your Momma's so Uggla" jokes they dreamed up after his horrid All-Star game turn earlier this month, smashing a game-deciding two-run bomb in the eighth.

Now if the Marlins really want to make their fans feel appreciated, there's a certain dreadlocked, airheaded Boston slugger looking for a new home.

-- Tim Elfrink

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