Thus far, Derek Jeter’s reign as Miami Marlins head honcho has been decidedly about following his own plan. That’s meant trading popular players, firing franchise fixtures and squeezing the team’s payroll to the bare minimum — public perception be damned.
On Tuesday, Jeter set his sights on an altogether different pillar of the Marlins, the big colorful sculpture that sits in left-center field and goes off anytime a Marlins player homers. It had been reported back when Jeter’s ownership group took over, that he wanted to get rid of the home-run sculpture. Soon after, though, Jeter and his group were told they weren’t allowed to remove the sculpture because Marlins Park is public property and that decision doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction.
Never a man to be denied, Jeter took the first steps Tuesday to getting rid of the sculpture. According to the Miami Herald, Jeter met with local elected officials who could help him ship the home-run sculpture out of Marlins Park just like he did Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez may turn out to be a powerful ally for Jeter in his quest. Gimenez was a vocal critic of previous Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and also doesn’t like the sculpture — “I just don’t like it. I didn’t like it from the get-go,” he told The Herald — and now he seems to have gotten the county’s cultural chief to change his mind about the sculpture too.
Until Tuesday, Miami-Dade was on record saying the sculpture could not be removed. The stadium itself is county property, and so is the sculpture — purchased as part of an Art in Public Places program that requires builders of county-owned buildings to install art works for the public. When word of Jeter’s reported distaste for the 72-foot sculpture leaked in August, the county’s cultural chief, Michael Spring, said “Homer” was “not moveable” and was “permanently installed” after being designed “specifically” for Marlins Park.
Spring had a different message Tuesday when he accompanied Gimenez to Marlins Park with the mayor’s chief of staff, Alex Ferro.
“Anything is possible,” said Spring, one of Gimenez’s top deputies and an admirer of the sculpture. “But it is pretty complicated. And I wanted the mayor and the Marlins to understand how complicated it really was. We got a good look at it today, and they saw how big it was. There’s hydraulics, there’s plumbing, there’s electricity. But anything is possible. We built it,” Spring said. “We can move it.”
— Mike Hernández (@HernandezMA5) January 16, 2018
To be clear, the home-run sculpture certainly isn’t beloved by all Marlins fans. Some people enjoy it because it’s colorful and unique. Others look at it as a tacky, and a symbol of excess that represents Jeffrey Loria’s reign as owner. Loria made his money as an art dealer, so the sculpture carries a pretty direct connection to Loria.
In that sense, removing it would be another way for the Marlins to demonstrate its a new era.
Besides, with Stanton and Ozuna gone, 96 of the Marlins’ 194 homers last season have been shipped out of town. Truth be told, the home-run sculpture might not get much work in the foreseeable future.
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