It's Only Spring Training and the Marlins Are Already Screwing Over Fans

For baseball fans, spring training is a time for hope, naive innocence and the glorious chance to drink ballpark beer that costs less than 15 bucks. Sure, the Marlins were wretched again last year, but in Jupiter at least, Fish fans can forget all that pain, snag a few autographs, and enjoy some cheap baseball.

Except they can't. Because these are the Miami Marlins, a franchise hellbent on wringing every last ounce of joy out of the sport.   

The franchise's latest moves? Heavily fencing off areas where fans used to be able to get autographs from players leaving the stadium and closing a popular, inexpensive grass berm in favor of luxury seating that costs three times as much.

The fencing around autograph areas, which the Palm Beach Post discovered this week as pitchers and catchers reported for duty at Roger Dean Stadium, is particularly galling. One of the most charming sights of spring training is the small army of kids lined up in the parking lot to get hats and cards signed by their stars. 

But the team claims the areas had become a "safety hazard." A Marlins spokesperson hasn't responded to emails and calls from New Times seeking comment on the changes, but the team's vice president claims kids were at risk from players leaving the park.

"We were having lot of issues with people and kids going into the parking lot as players were backing out their cars last year. We wanted to take everything out of the parking lot. This is really a safety issue for us and a control mechanism,’’ Claude Delorme tells the Post

Of course, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Are players really peeling out of the parking lot so fast that they can't avoid kids looking for autographs?

The truth is probably a lot simpler: Barry Bonds is now a member of the Miami Marlins. And the legendarily taciturn slugger, hired in the offseason as hitting coach,  didn't want to have to deal with the professional autograph hunters who turn Spring Training into a signed merchandise factory. 

OK, but what about that grass berm? It's one of the best features at Roger Dean Stadium, a green, slanting field where fans could pay $15 to lay in the sun on blankets. 

The Fish have closed it off this year, instead opening a "Bullpen Club," where tickets go for $52 to $60. This is to watch a team that finished 71-91 last year, mind you. 

Congratulations, Jeffrey Loria — you've even found a way to poison pre-season for Marlins fans.

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