DETROIT -- Jim Leyland spent two seasons managing the Florida Marlins. The ultimate reason they hired him in 1997 was to win a World Series that would help fuel public support for a new stadium.
Fifteen years after their world championship, Leyland watched the opening of their new ballpark Wednesday night on television from his in-season home in Michigan. For him, it was better late than never.
"I think it's beautiful," he said, "but I think it's too big [in the outfield]. If you have one 416 feet and the guy's camped under it like an infield fly, that's not good. But it's beautiful, and I'm glad they got it. I was part of that situation, so I'm thrilled for them."
Not only was Leyland part of it, he rode the ups and downs of it, from the massive roster buildup to the World Series in 1997 to the tear-down and the resulting last-place finish a year later.
"My time there was really Jekyll and Hyde," he said. "It was as good as it could be, but it was probably as bad as it could be, although a lot of those young kids [in 1998] ended up pretty good big league players. It was kind of fun. We just couldn't beat anybody."