Monday, August 31, 2009

Let's Not Count Out the Marlins Just Yet

The Marlins lost three games in a row, one to the Mets and two to the Padres, Thursday through Saturday, before finally taking a game from the Padres on Sunday.

After that third consecutive loss to a sub-.500 team, it seemed like doomsday for the Fish. But a quick glance at the NL Wild Card standings this morning had me admittedly surprised. Despite those three consecutive losses, and seven of 11 overall, the Marlins manage to sit just 3.5 games back in the Wild Card standings.

This is, in large part, thanks to the Giants sweeping the Rockies this weekend, and the Rockies dropping five straight games overall.

Yet somehow, despite that three game skid where the Fish got a total of 10.2 innings combined from their starters ( including a 1.2 inning outing from Chris Volstad and a 3.2 inning effort from Anibal Sanchez on consecutive days), this team is still vying for a playoff spot.

The Marlins kickoff a huge, and I cannot emphasize that enough, four game series tonight against the Braves, who they are tied with in the standings. This series could legitimately decide whether the Marlins will contend for the Wild Card in September, or fade into oblivion as the season winds down.

I for one, am willing to remain optimistic, and (likely foolishly) hang on to my preseason prediction/dreams/aspirations for this team, at least until this series with Atlanta is over.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fantasy Football 2009

Sorry about minimal posting this past week, school just started again and I've just been trying to get back into the swing of things. On the bright side, it is FIVE DAYS until the first college football game, and one week until the first one here at UF (cue the uncontrollable excitement).

Since football is right around the corner, you know what that means: fantasy football time.

This year I'm doing two leagues, one with some college buddies and one with some other sports bloggers. The blog league draft is Tuesday night, and the college league draft was earlier this afternoon. I'll probably keep you readers posted about the progress of my teams, probably just for the hell of it, but also to boast about my awesomeness.

Anyways, I drafted eighth today (out of 12 teams), and I'm pretty pleased with my team:

QB: Drew Brees (NO) and "Matty Ice" Ryan (Atl).
RB: Steven Jackson (StL), Derrick Ward (TB), Kevin Smith (Det) and Jamaal Charles (KC)
WR: Vincent Jackson (SD), Lee Evans (Buf), Eddie Royal (Den) and Hakeem Nicks (NYG).
TE: Anthony Fasano (Mia) and Bo Scaife (Ten).
K: Jason Elam (Atl) and Dan "the" Carpenter (Mia).
D/ST: New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

So that's my first team. I look forward to my Tuesday draft with the other bloggers, should be an entertaining league. Both leagues, for the record, I will dominate... because that's just how I roll.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Teddy Dupay: Another Example of a Flawed Legal System?

By a show of hands, who here remembers Teddy Dupay?
/Looks around for a show of hands.

Well, for those who don't, Dupay was a member of Florida's 2000 NCAA tournament runner-up team and started at shooting guard for the team. Since then, Dupay has been kicked off the team prior to his senior season for gambling issues, bounced around lesser basketball leagues, then finally settling for a desk job in Utah.

Oh, and earlier this summer he was charged with felony counts of rape, aggrevated kidnapping and sexual assault on his then-girlfriend at a lodge in Utah.

Dupay was sentenced on Monday... to 30 days in jail, followed by three years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Yeah, he did plead down to a third-degree felony charge, instead of a first-degree, but getting only 30 days for some pretty serious charges such as rape, kidnapping and sexual assault?

That means Dupay will be serving less time in jail (if Utah law is different than Florida law) for his charges than Donte' Stallworth served for killing a man.

Is it just me, or does this legal system seem flawed to anyone else?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Michael Beasley Goes to Rehab

I was pretty shocked when I found out early Monday from Yahoo Sports that the Heat's Michael Beasley was admitted into a Houston-area rehabilitation clinic. I knew about the controvery that sparked when he posted this photo of his new tattoo on Twitter, and how everyone speculated about the contents of a plastic bag on the table in the background.

Beasley has had issues like this before, like when this photo surfaced prior to his rookie season with Mario Chalmers smoking what was also suspected to be marijuana. Then there was also the incident at the league's rookie symposium where he was fined $50K.

So it's understandable that Beasley would want to (or be forced to) go to rehab for drug abuse. The part that caught me by surprise even more was the fact that he was also going in to battle a bout with depression. This one I should have caught, because I saw the tweets that Beasley posted a few days back (there's a screen grab below of the them, courtesy of the Detroit Free Press)

This is what should be more alarming, and should be the media's focus when writing about Beasley in the near future. Plenty of athletes use drugs (I'm looking at you, Ricky Williams), it's no surprise to any one, really. However, when an athlete is battling depression like this, to the point where he feels "like it's not worth livin," that should have everybody taken aback.

It's understandable that he would feel a little depressed, coming off a rocky rookie season, in which many jumped at the opportunities to call him a bust (already?). One in which he was fined multiple times by the Heat for minor infractions. One in which there was speculation that the Heat had given up on him and were looking to trade him. It's a lot to handle, mentally and emotionally, for someone who is still a kid.

Beasley, similar to my post about former-UM point guard Edwin Rios, has been given every chance to succeed at basketball in his life, and it would really be a shame to see that wasted. Before the draft, there was talk that Beasley still had maturing to do, as he had attended at least five different high schools in four years.

Obviously, he still has some maturing he needs to do and some issues that he needs to work out before he can succeed at the NBA level. Let's just hope that Beasley can work out those issues, because he is a very talented kid with a long career ahead of him if he can get his head on straight.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jermaine O'Neal Chooses Words Poorly

He didn't really do anything "wrong," but Heat big-man Jermaine O'Neal might want to reconsider his use of words when using his Twitter, especially when 8,173 (at last count) people might see what he says.

What is it that he said, you might ask? Check the below image for the answer.

Like I just said, O'Neal didn't do anything wrong, but he did use a poor choice of word in his tweet to teammate Dwyane Wade. The issue I have with O'Neal's choice of wording is obvious: he's a public figure that used a racial slur in a medium that is seen by thousands of people, even if he was just trying to say what's up to a friend.

I understand that many black people, and many people in general, use the term loosely as a term of endearment and rappers openly use the word in their music. However, athletes are in a different boat than everyone else, fair or not. Commissioners of the major sports leagues are trying to run family-friendly businesses, and nearly every aspect of the public image of their employees (professional athletes) is carefully watched over in the form of things such as league dress codes and other policies that help keep that family-friendly label.

Just last year, Dallas Cowboys backup tight end Martellus Bennett was fined $22K by the team for using similar derogatory terms in a YouTube video he posted on his aptly-named Marty B TV.

Like Bennett, O'Neal's public perception is bigger than just himself, because he also represents the Miami Heat, and beyond that, the NBA. This probably won't become a big issue, nor should it be blown out of proportion.

All I'm saying is that perhaps next time, when using a public social networking medium to have a personal conversation with a friend, O'Neal should try to use a more careful choice of words, such as "man," "bro," or if he wants to stick with the slang, "homey," and leave the derogatory slang at home, to be used away from the public spotlight.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Statistical Comparison of Tim Tebow and Charlie Ward

This post was inspired by something that the Orlando Sentinel reported earlier today:
“People keep asking me about Tebow,” Bowden said. “You know, is he the best ever? I don’t know if he’s better than Charlie. I don’t think he runs better than Charlie. I don’t think he throws better than Charlie. And Charlie only played [quarterback] two years for us.”

So it got me to thinking about whether Charlie Ward was, in fact, better than Tim Tebow. I tried to dig up all of Ward's career statistics at FSU but all I could find, on his Wikipedia entry no less, was his basic passing statistics, so I'll have to settle this debate with what I have in front of me.

Since Ward only played quarterback for the Seminoles for two seasons (1993-94) and Tebow has been starting for the Gators for two full seasons coming into this one, I'll compare them based on those years.

Let's start with each quarterback's first season as a starter, shall we?

In 1992, Ward completed 204 of his 365 pass attempts (that's 55.9% completion rate) for 2,647 yards, 22 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

In 2007, Tebow's first season at the helm, he completed 234 of 350 passes (66.9% completion rate) for 3,286 yards, 32 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

So let's get this straight, Tebow completed more passes, in fewer attempts, for more yards and more touchdowns, while throwing fewer interceptions than Ward did in each player's first full season as a starter? Not to mention Tebow also ran for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns that season, en route to becoming the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.

I believe Tebow takes gets the nod for each player's first season as a starter.

Now, let's take a look at each player's second season as a starter:

In 1993, Ward completed 264 of 380 passes (69.5% completion) for 3,032 yards, 27 touchdowns and 4 interceptions en route to winning the Heisman and leading FSU to the school's first National Championship in football.

Last season for the Gators, Tebow completed 192 of 298 passes (64.4%) for 2,746 yards, 30 touchdowns and 4 interceptions while leading Florida to the team's second title in three years. Add in the fact that he also rushed for 673 yards and 12 touchdowns, and that's another great season that resulted in being named a finalist for the Heisman again.

It's tough to argue which player had a better season out of those two, because both were phenomenal. It's also tough to adequately compare them without being able to find Ward's complete college statistics. But based solely on their passing numbers, I'd have to say that Tebow gets the edge.

If you want to compare each player based on win-loss record, Ward compiled a 23-2 record in his two seasons at FSU while Tebow has accumulated a 35-6 record in three seasons, including a 22-5 record as a starting quarterback. So in that sense, Ward would get a slight edge over Tebow.

One must also take into account Tebow's superb leadership, which is interesting, because Bobby Bowden was once quoted saying this:

"...Tebow’s the best leader I’ve ever seen. I mean, he is a leader. Charlie did it for us like follow him. Charlie did it on the field. This kid does too. But he jacks those guys up if they aren’t doing what he wants them to. You can see him in their face. Charlie would never do that. (Chris) Weinke might have. But not Charlie.”

So when Bowden said this week that Ward was a better player than Tebow, was he right?

In short, yes, Charlie Ward is better than Tim Tebow... at basketball, and probably tennis and maybe even baseball. But when it comes to football, I take exception to Bowden's comments, because Tebow is a better player than Ward, and he's still got this season to go.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ted Ginn: Becoming the Go-to WR?

Tedd Ginn is who the 'Phins thought he was!

Let's flashback a couple of years to the 2007 NFL Draft, when the Dolphins held the ninth overall pick. Remember that day? Brady Quinn was free-falling from the top of draft boards and seemingly into the laps of the Dolphins, who had been in desperate search of a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino hung up his pads. Everything seemed to fall into place for the Dolphins at that point. Then, as a shock to the world, it was announced that the team had drafted Ted Ginn, Jr. with the ninth overall pick.

The pick was heavily booed by fans at the Dolphins' official draft party, and questioned by nearly everybody, especially after then-Dolphins coach Cam Cameron assured fans that the team didn't just draft Ted Ginn, but his family, as well. That would have been great and all, if his family could run a pro-style offense or lead block.

I admit, I was just as dumbfounded as everyone else when it happened, but I wanted to give Ginn a shot to prove himself before I judged him completely. Then the 2007 season happened. Ginn had 34 receptions for 420 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those numbers weren't great for what was supposed to be the team's next big scoring threat. It also didn't help matters any that the team finished the season 1-15.

There was even more outrage over Ginn's selection, and fans wanted to label him a bust (I'm guilty of that, too, for the record). Then the 2008 season came around. The Dolphins had a legitimate quarterback taking snaps: Chad Pennington. Surely, Ginn would become the elite receiver the Dolphins expected him to be when the team drafted him. He did, sort of. He gained 790 yards receiving in his second season, and caught 2 more touchdowns. Still, not amazing.

However, there were a few instances when he showed signs of being the Dolphins go-to receiver. He had a career-high 175 receiving yards against the Bills in week 8. He also came up big in week 17 against the Jets with the division title on the line: 2 receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown.

He was still just a glorified return man trying to make his way as the team's deep threat receiver.

This offseason, coach Tony Sparano spoke highly of Ginn's improvement on the field:

"I've seen in some situations him be pretty dominant. The offense has started to slow down for him. I really have seen him be, in some situations, pretty dominant. You can see his confidence really is at a high level right now. He's running better, playing a little bit stronger and really understands what's going on around him"

That could have easily been accepted as a head coach talking up his player, but then the Dolphins' first preseason game rolled around Monday night, and I have to say, Ginn looked impressive in his minimal playing time.

Ginn had 2 receptions for 26 yards, and both were for first down conversions. His route-running was on-point, he showed a good display of soft hands and he even drew a pass interference call on the Jaguars for another first down on a ball that should have been a 98-yard touchdown reception had the ball been thrown better (speculation, I know, but I like to think it's true). Ginn also had a 14-yard rush on an end-around, for another first down. In other words, he touched the ball four times, and each time resulted in a first down for the Dolphins, who eventually won the game 12-9.

I realize it's only the preseason, so I probably shouldn't read too much into Ginn's performance, because hey, even the Lions went undefeated in the preseason last year, and we all know how that ended. Regardless, Ginn looks poised for a breakout season, and a chance to prove to all the DolFans and media out there that he was not a reach with the ninth overall pick in 2007, that he isn't a draft bust, and most importantly, that he can be that go-to receiver the Dolphins will turn to when they need a play.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BREAKING NEWS (That Everyone Already Knows)

So Chris Mortensen of ESPN broke the news tonight during ESPN's preseason football broadcast that Mike Vick has found a team. That team being the Philadelphia Eagles.

It's a two year contract, sort of. Vick will make $1.6 million this season, with a second year coming as a team option. If the Eagles pick it up, he'll make $5.2 million in 2010. (I wish I could make that much money a few months after serving a two-year jail sentence...).

What this all means for Donovan McNabb is beyond me, but I'm guessing he died a little bit inside when he heard the news. He'll certainly be looking over his shoulder any time he screws up, because we all know how impatient(?), and understanding Philadelphia fans are.

Still don't know how good of a move this is for the Eagles, but it certainly leaves open the option for a killer wildcat option (if Vick is half the player he was before going to jail) with Vick, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson and McNabb in the backfield.

Anyways, I'm sure this isn't the last I'll post about this, but that's all for now.

Mexican Soccer Fans Vs. Wrigley's Beer-Tosser

In case you missed it yesterday, in two sporting events, in two vastly contrasting sports, we witnessed two dispicable acts of "fandom" courtesy of some vile Mexican soccer hooligans and some tool at Wrigley field.

First, there was the incident at Estadio Azteca during yesterday's USA-Mexico World Cup Qualifier. I don't think I could adequately describe the putrid act of "fandom" in my own words, so I'll show you how Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports painted the picture:

"The man with the tri-colored mohawk took a swig of beer, stuck his fingers down his throat and vomited the mixture back into his cup. In the next seat another man, who was wearing a T-shirt with a cartoon drawing of the decapitated heads of Barack Obama and Landon Donovan, poured out what remained of the Corona beer he had been chugging and urinated into his cardboard drinks container.

Then, according to a neutral bystander who witnessed these disgusting acts, the pair stood on their seats, high-fived and hurled their vile concoctions in the direction of Donovan, the United States men’s national team star who was preparing to take a corner kick 15 yards away."

That's right, Mexican fans were tossing urine and vomit, among other things at US soccer players during yesterday's match.

Then, last night, during the Cubs-Phillies game at Wrigley Field, in the bottom of the 5th inning, Shane Victorino was fielding a flyball at the wall in left-center field. That's when this tool (seriously, a v-neck, "designer" shades, hat tilted slightly to the side AND an unnecessary armband) perfectly timed tossing a beer at Victorino while he caught the ball.

That guy (or someone that security thought was the culprit) was ejected and then there was outrage all over the place about the "classiness" of Cubs fans, some even coming from Philadelphia fans, as I saw on the video a Phillies fan trying to go after the Cub fan as he was being escorted out by security. Now that would be the pot calling the kettle "black," but I digress.

Anyways, that brought up this thought from me via Twitter. Then I wondered why misbehavior, and the throwing of objects onto the pitch, is accepted as commonplace in soccer/futbol while there is outrage when it happens in other sports (ex: the Wrigley incident and oh, how about the Ron Artest saga a few years back).

After conversing with a few other sports fans, including those who are more knowledgeable about soccer than I am, we seem to have an understanding now. As several people explained to me, soccer has a history of hooliganism from its fans, while baseball as (mis)conceived as more "noble and pure" and time-honored in America (that's why it's called America's past-time).

That right there held the answer to my inquiry of why there is more public outrage over a tossed beer than there is over tossed urine and vomit: tradition. Because baseball is regarded (by some) as America's past-time, and is held in such high esteem, we don't expect such stupidity from one of the fans. So when something to this extent occurs on national television, no less, there is outrage, some real and likely some feigned.

The incident in Mexico City on the other hand, occurred in a sport where there is a history of such fanaticism that includes riots and the like. It also happened to occur in a sport that many in the US do not show the same support for, despite it being the most popular sport in the world. Hell, even the US team downplayed the incident after the game, instead putting the focus on the "intimidated referee," while Victorino in turn filed a police report in Chicago following the beer incident.

Now I'm not saying that what the Wrigley fan did was right, in fact, it was stupid and wrong. What I am saying though is that what he did pales in comparison to the type of sportsmanship and fandom that Mexican soccer fans displayed yesterday in Mexico's 2-1 victory over the US. So perhaps we should turn the brunt of the focus away from the beer-tosser and instead lash out at the Mexican soccer fans who committed much more vile and disturbing acts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


If you're scoring at home, that's five in a row now for the Marlins, who are now just 3.5 games back of the Phillies in the NL East and 2 games back of the Rockies (who the Marlins face this weekend) in the Wild Card race.

Apparently you can knock this team down, but you cannot knock them out. Tuesday night they managed to overcome a 7-2 deficit and another sub-par pitching outing from a starter not named Josh Johnson or Ricky Nolasco, to take an 8-7 lead heading into the ninth inning.

Then they overcame another blown save by the bullpen (that would be Leo Nunez's fourth of the season, again, for those of you scoring at home) to win the game in 11 innings off of "His Name Is" Dan Uggla's bases-loaded single with two outs in the bottom of the 11th. That's when Rich Waltz emphatically called the walk-off and told the fans to have a safe drive home.

The Marlins face the Astros again tonight, this time with Nolasco taking the mound, so hopefully the bullpen will get some rest tonight, and hopefully the Fish will stay hot and continue to close the gap between them and the Phillies/Rockies.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Your Video Daily Double

Both of which come from Sunday's Marlins-Phillies game.

First: Jeremy Hermida makes a ridiculous double-play after catching a fly ball at the wall in right field, then throwing out the runner at first.

Way to prove me wrong, Hermida!

The second video can be found here. It is of Phillies' center fielder, Shane Victorino being victim of "the longest ejection in history," when homeplate umpire Ed Rapuano threw him out while Victorino was playing center field in the seventh inning on Sunday. Quite the scene.

Enjoy the video daily double, because both of those plays are something that you don't see every day.

That Just Happened.

I'm back from my short vacation, folks. It was interesting, to say the least, but I won't go into too many details.

When I left town, the Marlins were just finishing up getting swept by the hottest team in baseball Natinals. However, since I left, I've learned that there are things worse than losing to the Nats, like having a valet at a resort wreck your car.

Well, now I'm back, and the Fish just finished sweeping the defending-World Series Champion, and division-leading Phillies.

Oh, how things can change in just a few days.

After being swept by the Nats, which may have been the low-point in the season, the Marlins were seven games back of the Phillies, and looked like they would soon be way out of the hunt for October. Also, my car had a grill and front bumper.

Then, the Marlins swept the Phils, and are now just four games out of first place.

Simply put, it was the most aggrevating 3-3 road trip possible. Being swept by the worst team in baseball, then sweeping last season's best team.

But it happened, and it's best that it happened the way it did. Had the Marlins instead been swept by the Phillies, it would have dropped their season series to 2-10 against them, instead it is 5-7, which is more respectable, and certainly less demoralizing. Instead, the Marlins are riding the high of this three-game sweep into a 10-game homestand that opens Monday with a four-game set against the Astros, and continues with a weekend series against the Wild Card-leading Rockies.

A season that looked to be in shambles after a devastating sweep, again looks salvageable after an impressive weekend where the Marlins' bats decided to come alive. Cody Ross is on a tear with his timely hits. Rookie Chris Coghlan has had multiple hits in a franchise record eight straight games, Nick Johnson is an on-base machine, and even Jorge Cantu ended his 0-for-18 slump on Sunday with an RBI single.

As nearly everyone has pointed out, this team isn't perfect. In fact, they are extremely flawed (no legitimate closer, and two struggling regulars in Emilio Bonifacio and Jeremy Hermida, to name a couple of the flaws). But I will remain an optimist, and hope that the momentum from this weekend's sweep of the Phillies carries into this extended homestand, and that things will continue to look up, because it can't possibly get worse than it did after the Natinals finished their sweep on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Public Service Announcement

So you all might have noticed that I haven't posted any fresh material since Sunday when Kevin Gregg failed. There is a reason for the lack of content. I will be going on a much-needed short vacation through this Sunday, and figured I'd take a week off from writing.

During my vacation, I'll be disconnected from the world/blogosphere for the most part, but you may luck out and find an occasional tweet from me.

As I said, I'll be gone until Sunday. That means you should expect fresh posts from me by Monday. In the meantime, I highly recommend any of the links that can be found on the right side of this site. Each of them have unique, informative voices, and consistently publish fine works of writing. I think you will find their sites enjoyable, and they will undoubtedly satiate your sports-blogging appetites.

Until Monday, adios.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kevin Gregg Fails

Kevin Gregg is 6'6" and 240 lbs of FAIL

I want to feel bad for Kevin Gregg, I really do. But sadly, I can't. Gregg failed again on Sunday, less than 24 hours after he failed on Saturday against the Marlins.

Gregg blew two saves in two opportunities this weekend. I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I'm not. The two blown saves gave Gregg five on the season, in 52 games and 26 save attempts. The man blows a save basically once every five opportunities that he's given.

In the 52 games that he's appeared in this season with the Cubs, Gregg has given up 25 runs, including now 10 home runes, and walked 21 batters, while only pitching 49.2 innings of work.

Simply put, Kevin Gregg fails at being a closer.

As a Marlins fan, I shouldn't be one to talk about how bad another team's closer is, because the Marlins' closers aren't that great either. But Gregg makes Matt Lindstrom seem like an All-Star... okay, maybe not an All-Star, but he makes Lindstrom look good.

Kevin Gregg fails so much at being a closer that he actually became a Trending Topic on Twitter Sunday night after he gave up back-to-back home runs to Dan Uggla and Cody Ross, on consecutive pitches, to land the Cubs a 3-2 loss.

It's not like he's just having a down season, because last year, with the Marlins, he blew nine saves in 72 games, leading the league in that category, giving up just five more runs than he has allowed so far in 2009. In other words, he's been bad, but this season could still get worse for him, especially since after today's game, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he has no plans to demote Gregg from his closer job.

One fellow blogger even went so far as to say that Gregg is the new Eric Gagne (complete with the glasses), who blew seven saves in 17 chances last year with the Brewers. I think the analogy is fitting, except that Gagne was once considered one of the best closers in the game while he was with the Dodgers, and Gregg, on the other hand, has never been even close to that good.

Kevin Gregg has gotten to the point where, if I see him in a save situation, I'm honestly more surprised if he actually saves the game, rather than blowing it. I feel for Cubs fans, because, like I said, Gregg pitched for the Marlins last season.

Again, I want to feel bad for Gregg, but because he did the same thing for the Marlins last year, I can't feel bad for him, but I can feel bad for the millions of Cubs fans who are likely losing years off of their life every time they are forced to watch him try to close a game.
Ed. Note: A friend who attended Sunday's game told me that after the Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth, that Marlins fans actually began chanting for the Cubs to put Gregg in the game come the bottom of the inning. That's how much Kevin Gregg fails, that opposing teams' fans are cheering for him to enter the game.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Adventures at Land Shark Stadium

I love the Marlins, everyone knows that. I follow the team throughout. But it's not often that I get to make a trip out to Joe Robbie uhh Pro Player er Dolphin I mean Land Shark Stadium to watch the Marlins play (I blame the economy).

Well, Saturday night, I decided to trek on out to the county line and catch the Marlins and the Cubs, in Nick Johnson's first game with his new team. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I went to the game with my mom, which was great.

Getting a chance to spend what became a seven hour adventure of quality time with my mom, who I admittedly don't get to spend that much time with regularly, was awesome. So, let's recap Saturday's adventure at Land Shark Stadium.

When we arrived at the stadium, there was an insanely long line that stretched halfway down one side of the stadium, filled with people looking to buy tickets just prior to the opening pitch. It's something that I've never witnessed at a Marlins game, at least not to that magnitude.

Entering the stadium, there was another thing I hadn't personally witnessed while at a Marlins game, at least not since 2003. The attendance of the game was nearly 36,000... sadly, roughly half of that crowd was Cubs fans.

The game itself was actually the second most entertaining Marlins game i had ever attended, with number one on that list being the clinching game of the 2003 NLDS against the Giants where Pudge Rodriguez held on to the final out at home after getting plowed over.

Back to Saturday, though. It was one helluva baseball game. The Cubs jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings, because Burke Badenhop is awful and should not be in the five-man starting rotation had a rough night and was getting tagged early on.

Then of course, a few friends all got a hold of me and questioned why I would attend a Badenhop start. Shortly after, Souvenir City tweeted me about choosing a bad day to attend a game, and how he probably just jinxed the Cubs.

Seemingly, he did jinx them for a bit, as Brian Sanches came in and shut down the Cubs lineup for 3.1 innings, striking out six, and the Marlins then proceeded to score the next five runs of the game to make the score 6-5.

In the midst of the wildness, Hanley Ramirez took a picth just above his knee and wound up coming out of the game. Replacing him was... Emilio Bonifacio, who I, and others, had expected to see little from (and rejoiced at that) once new of the Johnson trade came in on Friday afternoon, but more on Bonifacio shortly.

As I said, the Marlins clawed back, and I, in turn, jinxed them when I thanked Souvenir City for jinxing the Cubs, as the Marlins then went scoreless for a few innings. The Cubs then tagged Renyel Pinto for two runs in the top of the 9th inning, and many Marlins fans began to file out.

I knew better, though. Why? Because Kevin Gregg is the Cubs' closer, and real Marlins fans know about Kevin Gregg. I even said to one fan on his way out, "what, you're not going to stick around for Kevin Gregg to blow a save?"

Karma, is what I call it, others may refer to it as schadenfreude. Sure enough, come the bototm of the ninth, Gregg stepped to the mound. He recorded two outs, and then it hit the fan for him, and he became the Kevin Gregg that Marlins fans knew. A two-out rally ensued, and Johnson stepped to the plate with one man on base, and a chance to hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, in his Marlins debut.

That didn't happen, but he did reach base, and he ended the day 2 for 3 with an .800 OBP for the game. That's when I began to think the game was over. Two outs, runners at the corners, and Emilio Bonifacio up to bat with the Fish down two. I didn't want to believe, but my mom did. I explained to her that he was the third-worse everyday player in baseball, she didn't care. She had faith.

I told her that if he came up big in this spot, I would not bad mouth him for the rest of August. Sure enough, Bonifacio shocked everyone, except my mom, that is, and tripled, with a full count, with two outs, and two men on base, in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 8-8.

The stadium was crazy at that point. Half Marlins fans in awe of Bonifacio's triple, half Cubs fans, shocked the Gregg blew the game.

To extra innings the game went. Leo Nunez quickly gave up a home run to former-Marlin Derek Lee and the Cubs were on top once again. I may not have been allowed to bad mouth Bonifacio anymore, but Nunez was fair game. It's moments like that that make me wonder why the Marlins didn't pull the trigger on the trade for closer Heath Bell.

After Lee, Nunez plunked Aramis Ramirez with a pitch. That's when the quote of the night came in. Ramirez, on second, left the game feeling woozy. He was replaced by Sam Fuld. A Marlins fan a couple rows back of me then shouted, "Will the parents of a missing child please go claim him at second base, he is now playing for the Cubs." Fuld, despite being listed at 5'10", looked much smaller than any player on the diamond at that moment. Cubs and Marlins fans alike in my section got a good laugh from it.

Nunez then got out of the inning, and the Marlins went down in order in the bottom of the 10th, ending the game.

As a side note, Jorge Cantu played terrible in his first game back at third base this season, botching three plays. It almost made me wish Bonifacio was back at third... almost, but not quite. I know it will take Cantu some readjusting to play third on a regular basis again, but ultimately, it will be better than Bonifacio there.

The game could best be summed up by this tweet from Ted of Marlins Die-Hards: "I caught the 9th and 10th... uplifting and disappointing, like the rest of our season." Well said, Ted.

The Marlins may have lost, and they may have left a the population of a small island on the basepaths, and it may be sad to go to a home game and be outnumbered by the opposing team's fans, but what many thought to be a terrible game to attend wound up being an enjoyable experience, because only a game with mom could make losing enjoyable.