June 2008

Belly Up.

Four game skid.

Swept by the Rays.

Playing real bad.

They say pitching sets the tone, and I happen to agree. So in that case…

Current Tone:

fish carcass.jpg

I didn’t make it to the game last night, so I’m not sure if anyone acted on #4 on this list.

Thank you. Have a nice day.

If the Asterisk Fits…

Utley Asterisk.jpgThey want to do it to Barry Bonds, and I have never argued. That’s mainly because I think asterisks resemble stars and flowers, and I find both quite enjoyable, and am all for sprinkling them about wherever possible. But I think if we’re going to go getting all picky about a few little mystery injections into the posterior of Mr. Bonds, then we need to get equally ruffled–if not in a downright tizzy–over the baseball atrocities that are actually documented and staring us right in the face.

For instance, it has been a joy to watch the Marlins go yard at a record pace this season, but one thing that can suck the fun right out of the celebration is the fact that the Philadelphia Phillies hold the number two spot for most home runs in MLB.

Please. (Prepare to get into aforementioned tizzy.)

The Phillies hit in one of the teeniest spaces known to the game of baseball (this includes t-ball fields, sandlots, backlots, and back yards), and the fact that the team is even eligible to be considered for this category is an outrage. 

Not only is the Phils’s team home run record laughable, but Phils second-baseman Chase Utley is currently in second place for most dingers in all of baseball. Pardon me while I laugh so hard I choke on my own saliva and die of asphyxiation. 

Now, If I’m upset, I would imagine the Marlins’ own Dan Uggla has gotta be downright livid. Uggs leads all of Major League Baseball with 23 home runs. Nearly half of those (11) have been hit in the vast expanse known as Dolphin Stadium. Even the cheapies don’t come very cheap in the Marlins cavernous home, and Dan has had to earn every longball. Utley, on the other hand, hits in the Major League equivalent of The Sandlot.  Of his 22 home runs, 16 have been hit in Citizen’s Bank Park. Second place in the majors? Uh, yeah. That’s like Muggsy Bogues winning an NBA slam-dunk competition using my nephew’s Playskool Easy Dunk.

I’m not asking for a congressional inquiry into this or anything (unless you old geezers are game, and can find nothing better to do with taxpayer dollars), but let’s at least qualify the Phillies’ home run statistic if we’re going to throw it around:

Kruk: Well, Karl, the Phillies still hold second place for most homers in Major League baseaball.

Ravech: Of course, Krukky, they also hit in a park the size of my desktop zen garden, so that record is a load of…

Gammons: Something the FCC won’t allow us to say on the air?

Ravech: You got it. How ’bout them Marlins?

HLD&S GAMENzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

sleepy.jpgThe Marlins continue their efforts to kill me off through an obscene loss of sleep as they head to Oakland for the 3-game finale of the dreaded West coast trip. This weekend it’s Fish vs. A’s for some riveting interleague play, in a series I like to call “Games Least Likely Ever to Air On ESPN.” (Seriously, am I the only one who believed Oakland was no longer a MLB team? Maybe it’s just the retro green and gold that makes me feel that I’m watching a 1972 game on ESPN Classic whenever I see them. I feel as though everyone in the lineup should be sporting a thick, hearty mustache.)

The hope for Fish fans tonight is that Mark Hendrickson will have had enough of this sucking business, and actually pitch worth a…hoot. Just to give you fair warning, HLD&S GAMENIGHT is suffering from West Coast-induced Narcolepsy, and cannot be held responsible for things we blog during blackouts. Or for abruptly ending the blogcast to get some much-needed shut-eye.

1stI am officially very un-excited to be facing Harden.

Mark Hendrickson appears to be concerned for his job (what with the rapid recovery of Josh Johnson from Tommy John surgery), and has decided that outs, rather than hits/runs might be in order to start things off tonight. 0-0

2ndFish load bases. Fish leave bases loaded. Fish make me frown.

There goes Mark’s no-hit bid. Let’s hope he can suppress the brutal disappointment and keep his head in the game. 0-0

3rdJeremy Hermida is robbed of a hit by an over-achieving gold-glove hopeful, who clearly needs to spend a few days observing Fish fielding to get a better appreciation for a healthy amount of defensive indifference.

As though in rebellion to the good defense displayed by the A’s, the Fish decide to show the boys how it’s really done, i.e. instead of throwing the runner out trying to steal, let’s throw the baseball out into center field and let the runner steal third. Nicely done, fellas. I’ve missed this these last few games, being asleep and all. 

4thFish go quietly in the night.

Hendrickson decides that giving up a 2-run shot would be a pretty good idea. And even better, giving up back-to-back homers. Nice. 3-0, Oakland 

5thMore annoying good defense from the A’s. Seriously, people, what are you trying to prove?

Oh, Mark Hendrickson. 4-0, Oakland

6thDanny-boy goes yard. Fish are on the board. 4-1, Oakland

OFFICIAL HLD&S ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to the inability of my eyelids to stay open without the aid of superglue, rather than actually stay up for the rest of this ballgame, we will simply blog about what we HOPE will happen: 

7thFish hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers. 5-4, Fish 

8thFish score three runs. 8-4, Fish.

9thKevin Gregg enters in a non-save situation and does not walk the customary batter and give up the customary single, but rather surprises us all with a concise, neat, 1-2-3 inning. Fish win, 8-4.

And now I have a date with the Sandman.

Citrus/Ceattle Ceries

orange slice.jpgWell, that was…acidic. Aside from Ricky Nolasco’s brilliant performance yesterday, I could have done without that series in its entirety. Am I the only one who misses the days when our AL counterparts were comfortable in their role as bottom-feeders? It certainly made our last trip to Tampa more exciting (Incidentally, as a local minister commented to me recently, Tampa Bay’s newfound glory is clearly God’s lavish blessing upon them due to the fact that they have removed the word “Devil” from their name. It is at very least a point to be pondered. Perhaps the Marlins should consider a name change as well. Angelfish has a lovely ring to it. World Series, here we come. Uh, and while we’re on the subject of name changes, shouldn’t they call it the “sunshine” series???).

I have said basically all I care to say about the last three games the Marlins have played, especially since the Fish are still trying to wake some of their bats from the coma induced by three ABs against Jamie Moyer last week. Perhaps the invigorating Seattle air rain will be just what Jim Presley ordered. Unfortunately, considering the fact that games in Seattle finish around the time that I get up for work, HLD&S GAMENIGHT has been postponed until further notice. Or until the Fish return to a time zone that doesn’t blow. Then again, Gamenight has pretty much been cancelled for one reason or another for the last fifteen or so games. My apologies to the masses one reader who emailed to complain.

I [Couldn’t] Care [Less]

It’s nice to know that Kevin Gregg is concerned about our health. It really is. I think it is splendid that our closer has gone above and beyond (i.e. swallowing his pride and allowing the world to see that he reads on a 3rd-grade level, and is mildly autistic) to ensure that none of us will perish from a tobacco-related illness.

Yes, Gregg’s work with the Tobacco-Free Florida campaign is commendable. Unfortunately, for every life Kevin has spared from a slow, agonizing death from lung cancer, he has caused a dozen or so due to his less-than-valiant efforts on the mound.

The American Heart Association just called, Kev. They’d like you to retire.

According to new research (research being the statistics that sound the most convincing once I make them up in my head), heart attacks, strokes, and other myocardial episodes increase by about 98.76% in South Florida each and every time our dear closer takes the mound. He doesn’t even have to throw a pitch–the mere sight of Gregg exiting the bullpen is enough to send our blood pressure skyrocketing, and our chests constricting.

Last night’s (rare) brilliant effort from Andrew Miller was thrown away in the ninth when Gregg–for what feels like the millionth time in the last two weeks–blew yet another save. It’s almost as though he has taken it upon himself to ensure that each and every game is as dramatic as humanly possible. And while I can appreciate a little edge-of-your-seat excitement every now and again, I’d really almost prefer a nice, boring 1-2-3 inning. Call me crazy.

Note to our closer: Walk-off grand slams = cool. Closing games respectably in the top of the ninth to avoid making said walk-off a necessity = much cooler.

In closing (pun intended), I would like to say…Joe Nelson. Just putting it out there.

Phantasy Auction

phillies1_2.jpgNothing fills my heart with joy quite like dreaming that the Phillies had to forfeit all three games in the series due to their team plane being hijacked by terrorists (aka editors of HLD&S) and diverted to a deserted island where they will live out the remainder of their days braiding palm fronds and carving coconuts for entertainment.

Uh, but since that is merely wishful thinking, I will settle for being filled with joy due to a thorough pummeling of my least favorite team in all of professional sports. Ahhh, happiness.

Tonight’s telecast of the Marlins-Phillies game is even more exciting than usual, as FSN Florida hosts its Fantasy Auction to raise money for the Marlins Community Foundation. Now, I enjoy giving back as much as the next person, don’t get me wrong, but I think the coordinators of the auction could have been a bit more creative with the items they put up to bid.

Golfing with Tommy Hutton is nice and all, but it might take a bit more to inspire me to open up the ol’ wallet. How about a chance to use Chase Utley for target practice? Just a pellet gun, mind you, nothing that could fatally wound him (at least not for less than a hundred grand). Or how about the chance to take part in the next Fish/Phils benches-clearing brawl? I could get in a serious bidding war over that one. 

But boring packages aside, each auction item has received a respectable number of bids this evening. Well, all but one, that is. Seems there haven’t been any takers so far for the Fielding Lessons with Jorge Cantu. Can’t figure that one out.

Well, back to the tv, and our fabulous defense’s valiant attempts to give away this ballgame.

HLD&S Good Effort of the Game!

star final.jpgCongratulations, Jorge Cantu!!! You are once again the proud new owner of FIRST PLACE for MOST ERRORS IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL!!!

Kudos from your pals at Hook, Line Drive, & Sinker.

Thanks for your help tying up this ballgame.

Be it ever so Huizenga…

ProPlayerStadium.jpgAh, home sweet home. Back to the comfort of the familiar. Back to sparsely-filled seats. Back to dance squads of clinically obese men ever-so-slightly short on self-respect. Back to torrential downpours that delay the start of our ballgames. Back to good ol’ Dolphin Stadium. Surely now that we are home we can put this ghastly (3-7) road trip behind us, and return to the winning ways of April and May…

OR we can trot out a starter who can only get 3 1/3 innings into the game. Then yank him for a relief pitcher who has tossed more innings this season than the average team’s starting rotation combined. Then get blown out again, 11-3. Good plan. That’s the strategy I would have gone with as well.

So far (and yes, I realize we’ve only been back one day), being home has done little to right the ship for the Fish. I’m sure last night was a fluke, though. I am sure the root of all that ails us is not the bad starting pitching, bad defense, and overworked bullpen, but rather the geographic location in which we play ballgames. Yes, that must be it.

Tonight our own version of an ace–Scott Olsen–will take the mound in hopes of setting the tone for the rest of this homestand. Uh, preferably a slightly better tone than the one Andrew Miller left ringing in our ears last night.

Game Notes 6/7:

1) Hopefully a clubhouse attendant has been slipped enough cash to make it worth his while to stuff Jay Bruce into a broom closet until the post-game show.

2) Hopefully Alfredo Amezaga can talk Bronson Arroyo into cornrows.

3) Hopefully the inventor of the cowbell will be punched in the face, repeatedly (if that dude is dead, I’ll settle for whoever decided it would be a good idea to give them away at the game tonight).


Official HLD&S Public Apology:

It has been brought to my attention by a concerned reader that when I fail to blog, the Marlins fail to win. After carefully weighing all of the facts and figures, I have come to the startling realization that this is completely correct. And so it is with a heavy heart that I admit sole responsibility for the Marlins recent slide, and beg the forgiveness of Fish fans all around the globe. The agonizing losses these past few series had nothing to do with our bullpen blowing, Hanley Ramirez slumping, and Cantu–uh–erroring, and everything to do with my inability to keep up with my blogging.

At least we have discovered the root of the problem, and can now work to remedy the situation. And to work out a contract similar to that of Mr. Ramirez. I mean, if I’m going to be responsible for our wins and losses, I fully expect to receive at least the league minimum. On second thought, let’s save the big contract for next year, seeing as how Hanley went into a spiral of shame the moment he signed on the dotted line. I wouldn’t want to suffer a similar fate in a season that has started out with such promise.

The problem with controlling the teal universe through the powers of my keyboard lies in the fact that when I am filled with uncontrollable rage, my fingers tend to go numb, rendering the task of typing completely impossible. Now, I can handle losses. They are simply a part of baseball, and most definitely a part of Marlins baseball. However, the Fish have taken losing to a whole new level on this road trip. We have actually won almost every game we’ve played over the past week. We’ve won it, then lost it again in the ninth, then won it again in the tenth, then lost it again…you get the idea. Note to the Florida Marlins bullpen: We should only have to win ballgames once. As fun as it is to watch Alfredo Amezaga jack home runs after you have blown leads, I would prefer to see mundane shots by Uggla and Jacobs, and no late-inning melodrama. Thanks.

I have posted this in the past, but another quick look at the Fan Emotionometer will explain a little better how I feel when I watch Kevin Gregg give up perfectly good leads with walks, wild pitches, home runs to Punch & Judy pansies, etc.: