MIAMI -- NEW T-SHIRTS waited atop the black, reclining lounge chairs in front of every locker in the Miami Marlins' home clubhouse -- bright yellow, adorned in blue and pink, with the phrase "Un Verano Con Sandy" emblazoned on the front, a nod to Bad Bunny's hit album. It was early last Wednesday afternoon, roughly four hours before first pitch, and four inflatable palm trees had already sprouted behind one of the lower sections of the third-base side at loanDepot Park.
The Marlins call it "Sandy's Beach."
It's the team's attempt to make Sandy Alcantara's home starts an event, to re-create the excitement of "King's Court" in Seattle, when thousands of yellow-clad Mariners fans crowded the left-field corner during Felix Hernandez's outings. But by the midway point of a midweek game against the Cincinnati Reds, a seating section with a capacity of 162 included less than 20 fans wearing those giveaway shirts and a few other fans scattered throughout. When Alcantara came back out for the seventh inning of what would become the first complete-game shutout of a Cy Young Award-worthy season, the loudest roars from this section came from the people employed by the team -- one dressed as a lifeguard, two others outfitted in Hawaiian shirts and another enveloped in a polyester shark costume.
It encapsulated everything you need to know about the Marlins and their perpetual quest to resonate within the most unique city in America: They're trying, but it just isn't happening yet. And so the big question -- Will it ever? -- still lingers.