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.


  1. 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.

    If my calculations are correct, that's 22 people.

    (looks at own glass house named Turner Field)