Marlins Park is the new jewel of Miami, and team owner Jeffrey Loria must've figured it wise to use a big-time celebrity with some Miami cred to deliver the ceremonial first pitch ball. (Also, it'd be a sly way of avoiding any boos on what was supposed to be a celebratory moment.) Loria's choice was 70-year-old Muhammad Ali, who first won the heavyweight title back in 1964 after defeating Sonny Liston in South Beach.
Problem is, Ali's body has been devastated by Parkinson's, brought on by years of blows to the head while boxing. He can no longer speak in public or walk with ease, so he was slowly wheeled in from the outfield on a cart. Loria slung his arm around Ali's shoulders, while Ali's hands shook profusely the entire time. The crowd initially cheered, but stopped after 30 seconds. With the cart still progressing toward the infield and the awaiting Marlins players, the PA announcer felt compelled to start an "Ali!" chant from his booth.
The opening of Marlins Park started off with a parade of showgirls and Jose Feliciano singing the National Anthem. It ended with the sad, shameless sight of Loria trotting out Ali's disease-ravaged body for a forced on-field ceremony.
Happy Opening Day, everyone.