Lessons from opening night at Marlins Park

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

What, you thought we'd lead a post about the 2012's first regular season game on North American soil with a picture of actual baseball action? While there was a baseball game played at Marlins Park on Wednesday night, the St. Louis Cardinals' 4-1 victory over the Miami Marlins often seemed like a mere footnote to the action taking place off the field.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Major League Baseball has a new ballpark to sell and fill, which is why it landed the first slot of the national television schedule. Even though the defending champs were in town, the stadium was the star of the three-hour show with its South Beach flavor present at every turn. If you missed it all for your regular Wednesday night ultimate frisbee league, don't worry. We combed the broadcast and photo wires for evidence of the extracurriculars to bring you a primer on the new brand of baseball experience in south Florida.

First things first, the answer is 'no': The only time the infamous home run sculpture went off was before the game in a dinger-free demo we've seen before. It was not set off during the game because of an actual Marlins home run (you would have been alerted to it by 15,325 tweets and 687 different baseball blogs if it had).

Whether its dormant state was guaranteed by the anger of the baseball gods or the actual talent of Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse — who carried a no-hitter into the seventh before Jose Reyes singled —we can't say for certain. All we know is we'll have to wait another nine days — no, that's not a typo — for Giancarlo Stanton to get another shot. The Marlins won't play home game No. 2 until Friday April 13, against the Houston Astros.

Muhammad Ali is a good person to bring along if you're afraid you're going to get booed: Then again, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria could have invited the two guys from LMFAO to throw out the first pitch and he would have received just as much insurance from people upset at the way he financed the stadium. We also would have been saved the sad and awkward scene of the Parkinson's ravaged champ delivering the game ball to the Marlins infield.

Jose Feliciano can still bring it: The blind Puerto Rican singer performed the National Anthem before the game and it sounded a lot like the version he performed before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series (embedded below). Back then, the "soulful interpretation" caused an uproar with legendary Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell branded a Communist by some for inviting Feliciano to sing. On Wednesday though, Feliciano's rendition was a welcome addition to a multi-cultural celebration.

The Brazilian carnival dancers should stay: Each member of the Marlins starting lineup was escorted to his pregame introduction by two beautiful women. And because it added so much drama, flair and fun, we think it's something that should happen before all 162 games this season. Yes, both home and away.

This woman not only served as baseball's first "champagne chandelier": She also discovered the home run sculpture doesn't make any sense when you're looking at it upside down, either.

This is what happens to Milwaukee's sausages when they spoil: We get it. Everyone wants to have their own version of an onfield mascot race. But let's be honest here: The only time anyone should see something like this is after you fall asleep on the beach for a few hours and wake up with dehydration and a wicked sunburn.

Finally, they're apparently interested in selling a lot of alcohol at this place. And with all the money they're saving on bartender uniforms, the margins are going to be huge.

Make sure you're ready for opening day ...
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