Travel to Miami, check out fat cheerleaders

In Miami with some time to spare? If you happen by the Florida Marlins’ home-opener on Monday, you’ll be treated to a sight that is surely a first in professional sports: Fat cheerleaders.

On that auspicious day, “the Manatees” take the field for the first time. They are the Marlins’ plus-size cheerleading squad comprised of 16 men ranging in weight from 225 to 435 pounds.

The baseball club’s front office is banking on these guys to boost the moribund attendance at Dolphin Stadium, which was the league’s worst last year. How exactly will they do this? Beats me, really. But the official line from management is that these guys represent real people and thus have a better chance of connecting with those of us who prefer to watch baseball from the comfort of our couches.

Of course, these guys are being asked to do something harder than boost ballgame attendance: Dance.

The Los Angeles Times today has this hilarious story on the Manatees, which will take you inside dance rehearsals.

The troupe’s name notwithstanding — a manatee is an endangered marine mammal of considerable girth — somehow all of this doesn’t seem that cruel. But perhaps those in attendance Monday will have a different opinion.