The hate hit Sarah Spiegel's YouTube account early last week, calling her an idiot and a hack and suggesting that she join her favorite team, the Miami Marlins, in just going straight to hell. Spiegel's crime? Taking almost two weeks out of her singing career to pen a new ode to the Marlins and then uploading it to YouTube. The song went viral last week, amassing more than 22,000 views in a couple of days -- and unleashing the dark, embittered soul of a fan base that erroneously thought it was an official anthem from reviled team president Dave Samson.
The hate was especially baffling to Spiegel because she'd made the track out of love for the team -- and to support a legendary local high school teacher.
"I've been a singer my whole life, and I've never seen this kind of negative reaction to something before," Spiegel says. "Weirdly, there was a lot of gay-bashing as well. It was ugly."
Spiegel grew up in West Palm watching the Fish, and when she moved to L.A. after getting her degree from Miami's New World School of the Arts, she kept her allegiance to Billy the Marlin. Late last year, while touring the world in Louis Prima Jr.'s band, she caught Fish fever anew after the team unveiled its vivid new unis.
"With this whole exciting new look, I thought the team needed a theme song," Spiegel says. She hooked up with Jonathan Clark, a session musician. The pair spent a week and a half creating the theme, in which cheerleader chants combine with Cuban rhythms and Spiegel's melodic verses.
Then a friend of Clark's hooked the pair up with Doug Burris, the legendary director of the Miami Beach High Rock Ensemble. Burris, who's been featured on 60 Minutes after surviving three decades with multiple sclerosis, is retiring; Spiegel hoped to collaborate as a tribute.
She uploaded the demo to YouTube so Burris could learn the tune. Then Marlins fans got their hooks into it, trashing the song across the Web --including right here at Riptide, where we labeled it "horrible."
Spiegel's song might have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time; the video went viral days after Samson's infamous speech to the Beacon Council where he came off like a greedy oil baron. Fans, Spiegel now believes, were just looking for an outlet for their rage.
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"We still believe in this song," she says, adding she still hopes to pitch the Marlins on the tune. "I'm not going to let the meanness of the Internet change our commitment."
Here's the song if you missed it the first time around: