The Miami Marlins kicked off the first regular season game at their new stadium tonight by bringing out one of the titans of the sports world, Muhammad Ali – but it wasn’t exactly the moment Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria might have envisioned. Ali, of course, is 70 years old now, and has been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for decades. That disease, along with those advancing years, long ago robbed him of the physical gifts and outward brashness that defined him at his peak.
And so when Ali came out tonight on a cart with Loria and others, many just found the whole scene… sad. While at first the crowd’s reception and “A-li! A-li!” chants were pretty cool, the moment dragged on. The chants and cheering faded. Once that happened, all everyone was left to do was think about what rough shape Ali appears to be in. Some even concluded that Loria used Ali as a human shield to protect himself from fans’ rancor. The video of Ali’s entrance is below, so you can judge for yourself:
As for what we thought: yeah, it started out as a potentially nice moment, but yes, it ended as a sad spectacle. After the initial burst of applause, the fans didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with it anymore. It looked like it was playing out in painful slow motion.
Maybe Ali really wanted to do this, and if he did, more power to him. But from a viewer’s perspective, it was not an enjoyable experience. We all know Ali isn’t doing well physically anymore, but this rammed that fact down fans’ throats. Paying respect to The Greatest is more than fine, but if Loria was looking for a truly triumphant opening for his new palace, he’d have done better looking elsewhere.
Video by CJ Fogler.