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They don’t even have one named “Madison”

June 22, 2011

Dear Jack McKeon:

My fascinator is off to you, sir.

Your return to the lowly Florida Marlins—at age 80, eight years after you turned them from bottom-feeders into World Series champs—is a stroke of genius from an organization that’s made its share of boneheaded moves, a love letter to the same fans this team has spurned so often in the past. You’re the one guy owner Jeff Loria can’t run out of town; you’ve already marked your territory and endeared yourself to the Marlins’ seventy or eighty knowledgeable supporters by benching Hanley “The Other Pain-in-the-Neck Ramirez” Ramirez on your first day back in the dugout; and you’ve given the sentimental corners of Cardinal Nation reason to hope that Whitey Herzog, one year your junior, might not be too old to take over the Redbirds’ reins if Tony La Russa should suddenly decide to retire to a private island with his rescued pets and his dreams of competent lefthanded relief pitchers.

I know you’ve got a lot on your to-do list for the next few weeks, but I’d like to offer a suggestion that I think can only improve the Marlins’ karma and turn their 2-18 June around:

Deep-six the Mermaids.

Who are the Mermaids, you ask? They’re Major League Baseball’s first and only cheerleading squad, a team of twenty shapely young things who dance on the dugouts at Land Shark Stadium, hire themselves out for corporate parties, and pose for photos and calendars in all manner of obviously baseball-related attire.

Fans of the Mermaids can learn more about their favorite dancers through the link above, including their zodiac signs, their dance backgrounds, their favorite books (Twilight, the Bible, The Secret, Kardashian Konfidential), and their reasons for wanting to be a Mermaid (four mention liking baseball, eleven simply “love to perform,” and one says “because their fierce!”). Mermaidhood was named the second sexiest job in Miami in 2009, narrowly losing out to “bottle service girl” at one of the city’s nightclubs, but don’t mistake “sexy” for “lucrative”: The Marlins don’t publish the Mermaids’ salaries, but online reports suggest that they make about $100 per game, or roughly 1/700th what HanRam is earning for his .206 average and exemplary leadership skills.

It won’t surprise you, Jack, that I’ve got some beefs with this whole set-up. I love dance, and I admire and envy the talent, training, flexibility, and endurance it takes to do what these women do, but I loathe cheerleading as a concept, and I can’t stop dwelling on the fact that an actual mermaid would be rendered incapable of pulling off a high kick as soon as she got wet, meaning that the slightest tropical rain shower would doom the dance squad to a lot of flopping around and tail-slapping.

Most of all, though, I’m struck by the difference between the Mermaids…..

….and their male counterparts, the Marlins Manatees:

Gosh, it’s like those old “What’s the Diff?” puzzles I used to play in the newspaper! The Manatees, according to the team’s website, are “a plus-size group of guys whose age ranges are almost as wide as their waist size.” A Miami newspaper, advertising tryouts for both squads, wrote “You’ve got a little more than two weeks to test your New Year’s resolve, girls, to tighten up for open auditions to join the Marlins Mermaids dance squad. Guys? Have another Krispy Kreme—Manatee tryouts are coming, too.” (Unlike the Mermaids, the Manatees aren’t paid at all for their services.)

You’re an old-school guy, Trader Jack, and even if you’re not as turned off as I am by the notions that women are sex objects and fat is hilarious, I suspect we’re in agreement about the fact that baseball doesn’t need no stinking cheerleaders. Leave the pom-poms and the thigh boots for the Dallas Cowboys; they’re clearly not helping your team anyway, since the Marlins are still floundering (hee! see what I did there?) at the bottom of the NL East and ranked dead last in Major-League attendance.

You don’t need dance squads. You need hits with runners in scoring position.

Good luck, Jack—you’ve got your work cut out for you.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Angela W permalink
    June 28, 2011 4:13 pm

    The Brewers have cheerleaders too, except they’re not as publicized. At Miller Park you can find their “Diamond Dancers” in a pre-game routine on the field (around home plate no less), helping shoot tshirts, hanging with Bernie Brewer on his slide, and generally confusing the heck out of me every time I’m subjected to watching them on the field.

    I’m so glad I left Wisconsin.


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