July 2008

Watch Away the Pounds


Thumbnail image for remote_control.jpgI read an article this morning that blamed the slumping economy for a sudden decline in gym memberships. While I think there are more tragic things going on in the world (like the fact that skinny jeans are back in fashion), I’m all for helping out my fellow man. So I’ve got the remedy for all you health-conscious penny-pinchers out there:

If you can’t afford the luxury of a gym membership these days, just become a Marlins fan! It’s free! And, according to the trusty heart-rate monitor I wear during games, watching a Marlins come-from-behind win burns 8% more calories than the treadmill alone.*

Why spend long, boring hours in your local gym when sitting on the couch watching the Fish dig a hole for themselves–before climbing out–will produce the same results? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The Marlins lead the National League in come-from-behind wins, with 31. That includes last night’s wild game to open the series vs. the Mets. And sure, I’m not going to complain about a win, but seriously guys. As thrilling and heart-pounding as it is to watch you come back from a deficit, it may be a nice break to, you know, not have a deficit to fight back from. Just every once in a while.

HLD&S GAMENIGHT UPDATE: Since the Fish are so enamored with the come-from-behind victory, naturally they want to hurry up and get behind. Top of the first: 1-0, Mets. Get a towel and some Gatorade, people. Here comes your target heart rate.

*any health-related statistic that you read on this blog is 87% likely to be a 100% fabrication. HLD&S is not responsible for any injuries or medical expenses incurred by following the health advice on this blog. Or for your expanding behind. Not our fault either.

@#$%

ihateny.jpgYeah, all that stuff I said about Rick Vanden Hurk the other day? Scratch all of it. (OK, so I’m fickle. I’m a Marlins fan. Sue me.)

Splitting a four-game series at Wrigley Field should satisfy me, I know. But I also know that we coughed up a 5-0 lead in the series finale. And by “we” I mean Rick Vanden Hurk. And Mark Hendrickson, who didn’t exactly thrill me out of the bullpen, either. Come on, guys. Um, how many two- and three-run homers does Mike Jacobs need to jack for you???

Oh well, all we can do is put yesterday behind us as the Marlins welcome my second-least favorite team on earth: The Mets. Ugh. There aren’t enough prescription drugs in the world to take the edge off of my distaste for the Mets, but I guess series vs. New York are a necessary evil when you cheer for a NL East team. (Yes, I have considered moving my loyalties elsewhere, but so far I can’t seem to make the jump. It’s probably the wonderful stability of the organization. That, and the ownership’s “win at any cost” attitude. And let’s not forget our gorgeous ballpark.)

Now that the Mets are in first place in the NL East, beating the snot out of them is crucial. This is our time. This time it counts. There’s only one October. Just do it. The chicken runs at midnight. Win one for the Gipper…and here is where I run out of words of inspiration.

Win, please.

Hurk-ules


Hurkules.jpgFirst, I would like to announce that I have discovered the key to the Marlins success when I am in attendance: The Fish Tank. Apparently the Marlins enjoy losing games when I am close enough to actually see the action unfold (or to get clobbered by flying bats), but when I need a high-powered telescope to follow along, Florida performs like nobody’s business. Good to know.

From where I sat last night, Rick Vanden Hurk looked like what I imagine an ant looks like from the top of the Empire State building, so it was natural to question whether that was actually him on the mound. Especially since he sported a sleek new slider and a faster fastball, pitched five innings of no-hit ball, recorded seven strikeouts, and got himself out of a bases-loaded jam without allowing any runs. I mean, this isn’t exactly the Vandy we enjoyed endured at the start of the season. I felt a bit like I was watching the happy family reunion at the end of an extreme makeover show. You know– where a lady who looked like a truck at the start of the show has been transformed into Miss Universe, and her loved ones are sobbing uncontrollably as they see the new-and-improved look for the first time.

Um, who are you, and what have you done with Vandy?!

Oh, who am I kidding? We don’t care who you are, or what you’ve done with him, so long as you hid the body real well, and you keep pitching like this in his place. 

Welcome back, Hurk. Good effort.

Death by Dolphin (Stadium)

sign.jpgIt was a surreal game at Dolphin Stadium yesterday, and that had nothing to do with the 2-hit shutout of the Florida Marlins.

Last night I got a small taste of what it must have felt like to be Steve Bartman. Well, except for the fact that I may not need to join the witness protection program. And that my actions did not potentially destroy the World Series hopes of my favorite ball club (though by the sound of all of Dolphin Stadium boo-ing profusely, you’d think that’s exactly what my actions–or lack thereof–did).

In the sixth inning, as I began to enjoy my standard ballgame snack, the obligatory “Kiss Cam” shots flashed on the screen. I shook my head at the camera man in our section, sending him a look that I thought said “you have a better chance of getting snowed on in hell than getting a shot of the two of us kissing.” I guess the message got lost in translation, however, because in the next moment I was up on the screen with a friend of mine. So we did what any self-respecting people–who don’t want to grope each other on camera–would do, and smiled as we continued to eat our snacks. They gave up a few seconds later and moved on to a few more frisky couples throughout the stadium. And that was the end of that.

Er, wait. No it wasn’t. Moments later, we found ourselves back on camera, being encouraged by the crowd–and the drunk guys in our section–to redeem ourselves. When it became clear that we weren’t going to give in to the demands of the in-game entertainment director, 14,000 people began to boo us profusely. I felt as though I had just snatched a fould ball from the innocent hands of a freckle-faced six-year-old, or punched somebody’s grandma in the face. Seriously, people? For not kissing?! Who is to say that we’re not related? That his girlfriend is not in the restroom? That my boyfriend is not a violently jealous sumo wrestler? Apparently my reasons for keeping my lips to myself didn’t matter to anyone in the stadium. Especially not to the males in my section, who took great personal offense to my non-kissing, and began to turn to me, one at a time, and scream at me. Geez.

Since I seem to have grieved the souls of 14,000 people, HLD&S will issue a public apology shortly. I would just like to mention, though, that watching strangers feel each other up has never added to my enjoyment of a baseball game. But maybe that’s just me.

cracked seat.jpgI guess John Baker was angry at my lack of PDA as well, because two innings later, he attempted to murder me. As he struck out swinging, his bat hurled 150 feet into the stands, right at me and my camera-shy buddy. You know how foul balls always appear to be heading right for your face, and then they end up 17 sections away? Yeah, that’s not what happened with the bat. It appeared to be flying directly toward my skull because it actually was flying directly toward my skull. There was only time to cover my face and brace for impact. Thankfully, the loud crack I heard miliseconds later wasn’t my head, but rather the empty seat right in front of me. The bat struck the orange plastic, cracking it about six inches across (click photo to enlarge) before ricocheting into the next section over, into the hands of a waiting fan.

Whew.

I still maintain that since the barrel of the bat missed my head by about 3 inches, I am its rightful owner. Various stadium personnel, however, disagree.

*     *     *     *     *

Hook, Line Drive & Sinker would like to thank Kim Bokamper and several CBS 4 employees who graciously searched through last night’s game footage for us, to find the video evidence of our near-death experience. Well, thanks to the employees for finding the footage, and to Kim for not kicking us out of his workspace so close to the 11 o’clock news.

Old. Soft. Slow. Scary.

You know you’re a Marlin when you’d much rather face this guy:


Hulk.jpgThan this guy:

Jamie_Moyer.jpg

I hate you, Jamie Moyer. I hate you. You and your 46-mph “fast”ball. Go away.

Well that was just plain…

Uggs.jpgThree strikeouts. Six LOB. Three errors–the most ever recorded by anyone in any all star game in history, and half his present total on the season.

Oh, Daniel.

Thank goodness I am forced to rise with the, uh, [whichever creatures rise six hours before the rest of the world], because my inability to stay up past 11 PM kept me from actually witnessing Dan’s meltdown last night.

So while I go about my day pretending that it never happened, the rest of the Fish fans can try and erase the memory from their brains by focusing on the positive aspects of Dan’s All-Star game appearance. (Yes there were. Trust us on this one.)

STUFF THAT DID NOT GO REAL BAD FOR UGGLA LAST NIGHT:

1) This year everyone with a mic actually knew how to, you know, pronounce “Uggla.”

2) Dan did not trip as he trotted onto the field when they announced his name (thankfully he saved the clumsiness for the actual game instead.)

3) A grenade was not thrown at Dan from the stands.

4) Three entire things did not go real bad for Danny last night.

And if none of the aforementioned positives are enough to console you, take heart– there’s always the trusty ankle injury we can blame for his miserable All-Star performance.

Note: HLD&S editors sincerely apologize for the title of this post. We tried to resist, but in the end the urge was simply too strong. (just ask any of the–roughly–12 billion writers who did a piece on Dan today.) 

Horatio Caine called– he wants his melodrama back.

k7eCugkd.jpgIt is clear that many grueling hours of preparation have gone into the television drama er, sporting event that is the All-Star game. I mean, the 6,432,674 pages of Joe Buck’s pregame dialogue alone must have taken months to type into that teleprompter. I realize that a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into pulling off an event such as this, so far be it from me to complain. But what the heck. Today is your lucky day; I’m going to anyway.

I know it’s supposed to be a baseball game, but come on–couldn’t they have spent just a few minutes on pomp and ceremony? Taken themselves a teensy bit more seriously?  Rushing through the starting lineup as though it’s just another ho-hum game seems wrong somehow. I mean, did they not get the memo that this time it COUNTS?! This is not merely a baseball game! It is an historic event that should be hyped and touted and milked for every last drop of drama it could ever hope to possess, squeezed bone dry of anything remotely resembling theatrics, ballyhoo-ed to the point of nauseating everyone in attendance and/or viewership…you get the point. 

180px-Horatiocaine.jpgWith that in mind, could they not have come up with a few more old timers to honor tonight? A few more awards to present to people? More of the cast members of Sex & The City to make speaches to the crowd? Perhaps they could have added a few more seconds to those melodramatic pauses in between the player/hall-of-famer/groundsmen/hot dog vendor introductions. If they were merely short on subject matter, goodness, they could have bothered to take a few moments to remind us (ten thousand times) of the majestic/regal/stately edifice that is Yankee Stadium, the glorious richness of its history, and its impending demise. Or at very least bother to make mention of Josh Hamilton’s heartwrenching triumph over adversity. Somebody just wasn’t thinking tonight.

It only took 43 minutes to announce the starting lineup, guys. That is downright shameful. If you can stretch a 12-minute homerun derby into 3+ hours, there is no reason the actual All Star game can’t go six or seven hours, minimun. Maybe ESPN is just running low on drag-this-thing-out-as-long-as-humanly-possible material. If that’s the case, they should look into adding a few more commercial breaks to the ordeal. (Am I the only one who thinks there was a sad lack of advertising during the game?)

Geez, was any baseball actually played tonight? I’d like the last four hours of my life back, please. I guess that’s why God invented the mute button, a fact I will not be forgetting at the All-Star break in ’09.

EDIT: It appears the powers that be have read my blog, and acted accordingly– 15 innings should stretch things out sufficiently.

Christmas in July

fishmas_tree_july.jpgIf the gifts I’ve enjoyed this past week are any indication, I must have managed to escape the Naughty List somehow. Either that, or the elf in charge of the list is a Fish fan, and has fixed the books for me.

This week Scott Olsen pitched a gorgeous game and and was FINALLY rewarded with a win, after more than two months without one. Josh Johnson made his triumphant return from TJS, and far exceeded our expectations in his first start since going under the knife. Chris Volstad was called up at long last and pitched an absolute gem, fulfilling all of the fantasies we’ve been having about this kid for the past several years.

Four quality starts in a row. Two starters flirting with complete games. A four game win streak. Kevin Gregg‘s sudden enlightenment to the fact that he’s supposed to saving–rather than blowing–games…I hardly know what to do with myself, other than walk around with a ridiculous grin plastered to my face, prompting a slew of questions as to my sobriety.

Of course, just so we don’t get overly festive and dip into that eggnog a few too many times, there’s the one lump of coal in our stocking this holiday season… Andrew Miller, who is decidedly bad at pitching a good 83% of the time, has had another miserable start to a ball game. He gave up seven runs against LA today and exited after a mere 1 2/3 innings. Yeah, yeah, save your “potential” rhetoric for somebody who hasn’t heard it a billion times, and who still thinks it is a valid excuse for continuing to put Miller on the mound every five days. Funny thing about potential, folks–it doesn’t do anything for anybody until it is reached. That’s why minor league clubs were invented. When he can throw strikes consistently and get outs consistently, and get through the bloody first inning without giving up 72 runs consistently, then we’ll talk. Until then, he should see about hitching a ride to New Mexico on that shiny red sleigh.

A holly jolly July to you all. And to ya’ll a good night. (That is, assuming anyone can actually have a good night after watching a game like the one we’re watching.)

The Messiah has Come.

JJ.jpgAnd in other news, Josh Johnson will be rejoining the rotation this week.

After quite the speedy recovery from Tommy John surgery, JJ will take his rightful place in the starting rotation, making his first start against the Dodgers Thursday night.

While HLD&S will certainly miss Tucker’s youthful energy (read: erratic pitching), and Mark’s…uh…ability to impersonate a telephone pole, we are excited by this latest development in the rotation. And anyway, whatever Josh lacks in height–his 6’7″ frame looks downright puny next to Hendrickson’s–he makes up for in his ability to, um, you know, get people out. Which kinda helps when you’re a Major League pitcher.

OK, OK, so the Messiah bit might be a little much. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high, so I have lectured myself repeatedly these last weeks, as JJ’s return drew near:

Now, GameFish, settle down. There is no guarantee Josh will just saunter up to the mound after more than a year off for TJS and dominate the opposition.”

Get off of the table and stop that ridiculous dance at once. There is no way to know if JJ will pitch six straight no-hitters to celebrate his return to the rotation.”

Stop screaming before your neighbors call the cops! We can’t possibly be sure that Josh will pitch any better than Mark Hendric–HAHAHA!!! Gotcha. Carry on.”

Ah, my inner realist. Such a kidder, that one.

Sure, we don’t want to have unrealistic expectations for Josh as he returns to the rotation, but the bottom line is, JJ at his very worst just might be a heckuvalot better than what we’ve been watching here lately.

Welcome back, you big lug.

And a hearty welcome to Chris Volstad, as well, who was called up from Double-A Carolina at long last. Those things you recorded yesterday (I believe they are called outs) were a nice change of pace for us fans. Thanks for that. Welcome to the big show.

Boom.

Wylie_TNT_City.jpgDue to the Fourth of July holiday, I was unable to catch last night’s Marlins/Rockies game. I wanted to see the highlights, but for some odd reason, ESPN was only airing the Fish and Rox pregame batting practice on SportsCenter this morning. I’m confused. Maybe it was a teaser for the upcoming homerun derby???

Seriously, I don’t even know where to begin to put into words what I think about last night’s game. Or tonight’s, for that matter. Eight runs in four innings, Ryan Tucker? Really?! Does anyone on the Marlins’s pitching staff know how to get outs anymore?! (Clearly, the answer is NO.)

But back to last night, blowing a nine run lead takes a lot of effort. And so my hat is off to Olsen, Tankersley, Miller, Kensing and Gregg, who somehow managed to make it happen (and by “somehow,” I mean “through their putrid pitching.”)

You smell that? It is the smoke rising from the charred remains of our blown out bullpen.

On orders from my cardiologist, I can no longer discuss last night’s game. And so I will leave you with this thought: Our bullpen is giving me ulcers, and Kevin Gregg is the worst closer in baseball.

The end.

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