Opening day: Marlins vs. Nationals.
Florida fans, i.e., the reporters on the Sun-Sentinel, are in the state that other fans get to around mid-September when their team clinches a pennant or a playoff slot. Come to think of it, clinching a pennant is like dialing a phone. It used to mean something but in today's world of glutted playoff slots, it is just another way into the post-season.
Some terrific things did happen at the ballpark yesterday as the Marlins went 8-8 lifetime in opening day wins. But, it was the Nationals. They can score runs, but everyone knows they cannot stop runs. Julian Tavarez was first out of the bullpen. I am surprised he did not use a golf cart like Stan Musial did to throw out the first ball in St. Louis.
Even a curmudgeon would have been moved from the start when an air force pilot deployed in Iraq appeared live on the big screen to tell us that his son was on the mound. The kid threw out the first pitch. Of course, he did miss the plate.
I like the part where they call out the whole team from the clubhouse guys on up at the start of the season. Of course, Josh Willingham who was traded from the Marlins got close to standing ovation and he is now on the other team.
Chicago performed the National Anthem, no Susan (my favorite baseball newbie), not the Cubs or the White Sox – the band. Problem is their powerful horn section blew away the singers on a windy day.
There were 34,000 plus in the stands. Next time we see that, will be when the Yankees hit town. Problem is it was harder to park close and I did not have an empty seat on both sides of me.
Everyone is raving this morning about the Marlins first turn at bat. Emilio Bonifacio (remember that name because he will be on the all star ballot and the rookie of the year ballot) singled in his first opening day starter appearance. He promptly stole 2nd and scored a few seconds later when Adam Dunn misjudged a fly ball tripped on his own feet (or maybe a blade of grass) and let the ball drop for a double. OH. John Baker got the RBI.
Then Hanley Ramirez came to bat and bunted the ball to move Baker to third. Cantu's ground out scored Baker and the 2-0 lead grew, faded, and grew again and so on.
What did the curmudgeon see?
Dunn never touched the ball so the rules say that it was a double. The error rule has to be expanded to include being clumsy and turning a routine fly ball into a base hit.
But the worst part of that sequence is the bunt by Ramirez. He is the #3 hitter; before the game he was given the silver slugger award (Susan. That means he was voted the best batter at his position – short stop); and he is feared for his ability to power the ball. Mets scout Bryan Lambe leaned over to me and said, "Would you have called a bunt there?" By the way, it wasn't even that good a bunt.
My guess? Marlins manager Freddie Gonzalez was showing off the new speed and small ball philosophy. But the fans cheered louder for the four home runs – including Bonifacio's inside the park sprint. For me, the inside the park home run is the most exciting play in baseball. But, did anyone else notice that Lansing Milledge fell down chasing the ball and had he not – nothing to cheer about.
Bottom line. Curmudgeons can have fun at the ballpark.