Saturday, May 16, 2009

Numero Uno... and Dos

The other day my uncle said in passing, "Oh, I think the Fish are coming to town this weekend." Immediately, flashes of leather mitts and wooden bats crossed in front of my eyes. The smell of fresh-cut grass and May rain clouds invaded my nostrils. The salty taste of peanuts and sunflower seeds, hot dogs and pistachios caused my salivatory glands to ignite. I wiped the drool off my chin as I drifted back to reality.

Later that day, I figured I'd take a gander, sneak a peek, 'window shop' (you know... just for the heck of it...) to see what kind of seats I could, might, maybe, possibly, get. After a few clicks and disinterested sighs later, I rubbed my eyes. I looked a little harder at the screen. Then I looked around to see if anyone was behind me, waiting to see my reaction then burst out laughing as if they had pulled the ultimate prank. No one was, and no one did.

I couldn't believe it! What had I just found?! I couldn't STILL hardly beleive it, and yet, there they were! Four tickets... Section 138... sixth row.

Armed with my tickets and my Florida Marlins shirt, myself, Bret, Dad, and Curtis set off to Denver. We arrived just in time to watch Florida's batting practice.

We strolled down to our section and down the rows. 10, 9, 8, getting closer and closer, 7... but we were far TOO close to be in the sixth row? Maybe they misnumbered the seats... or we were in the wrong section. But there it was... two rows up from the dugout... row number six. "Is this right?" came the question amid 'Holy Cow!'s and 'Wow!'s. No one ever told us that the dugout actually consists of rows 1-4.

"Do you want to move back?" asked the usher.

"Yeah, we're a little TOO close to enjoy anything," replied Dad.

So there we were. Row two... er, uh... six... right above the Marlins dugout. We took in batting practice and warmups. I got a thumbs up from Emilio Bonifacio, the third basemen, when I showed him my Marlins shirt. Cameron Maybin, the center fielder, came and signed autographs.

And I just took it all in.

It was almost game time and Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu came out of the dugout right in front of us to get in a few final warm-up tosses.

Here's Hanley going up to bat in the 1st inning. Notice I'm wearing a white ball cap and blue jacket...

Then, all of a sudden, a loud SMACK...!

A thing of beauty!

Did you notice anything unusual? Watch it again.

What about right around the 25 or 26 second mark?

Did you notice the guy in the stands with the blue jacket and white hat? Here let me work some magic and get the guys in the booth to pause it for a second... and John Madden to draw some stuff on it... "Now here's a guy if he wasn't standing he'd be sitting."

Thats right folks. I was on TV. But you all already know that. The guys on Sportscenter can't stop talking about the 'only guy cheering for the Marlins', and after my brief appearances on Letterman and the O... who wouldn't know who I am?

The game was tied 3-3 after 3 innings... but then during the 5th inning the Marlins exploded for 5 runs. Here's Hanley with an RBI single.

Later in the game, Dan Uggla, the All-Star second baseman, was hanging around the top step of the dugout. Curtis yelled at him, "Hey, I want a ball!"

"I don't have any!" he yelled back.

"I want a ball!" said Curtis again.

"And I want to pitch," said Uggla with a grin.

"Yeah, I'd like to see that too!" I said, showing him my shirt. He gave me a thumbs up, and went back into the dugout.

The Fish won 8-3. Hanley was 4/5 with a HR and 2 RBI and a stolen base. Needless to say, I was one happy baseball fan.

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's that time of year again!

Don't be alarmed! It's only a temporary change. I know, you miss Steve already. Lets face it... him, Kobe, LeBron... they're in a different stratosphere. What's the first thing you think of when you think of MJ? Steve Nash. I know.

But I'd like to introduce you to my summer fling, my fiasco-de-Mask-o, my diamond in the rough. Hanley Ramirez. (Haha get it? Diamond in the rough? He's a baseball player... he plays baseball on a baseball diamond... ... what? not even a pity chuckle? OH... and I have no idea what the Mask thing is... so don't ask.) During the summer, some people like the blockbusters that hit the big screen, others like the new sitcoms that hit their plasma screen... but me? I like the free games that hit my computer screen. It's Americas Pastime streamed directly to my laptop. In low-quality, low definition.

Yes, it's baseball season. And it couldn't have come any sooner! As my Suns floundered around in 9th place in the West, not making the NBA Playoffs, I had no choice but to move to clearer waters in search of bigger fish. Marlins to be exact. I know what you're thinking... why Marlins? I could ask you almost the same thing but reversed: why not?

I've actually liked the Marlins since they came into the league in '93. I remember I bought the 'first season commemorative pack' that had all the players from that very first team. I also remember that I was in Dodger blue one Saturday and I struck out. The walk back to the dugout wasn't so bad because on the field next to us they were playing... and I couldn't take my eyes off those new, teal uni's.

I remember a few years later when they beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the '97 World Series. Nothing will ever compare to that first thrill of the unexpected, the miraculous. I still remember that Edgar Renteria hit the game winning RBI. This was my first taste of fandom victory. All of my bragging, taunting, and hoping had paid off. Because there is only one thing that matters at the end of the season: did you get the W? Did you win the last game of the season? If you did then there can be no disputing. There are no shoulda, woulda, couldas in victory. There's one winner, there's one trophy.

The Marlins have the lowest payroll in baseball. They find guys that want to play because they love the game, and they find ways to win. None of this Yankee brainwashing of paying outrageous amounts of money for less than stellar play. (I know Travis and Tricia are Yanks fans... and I love you guys... but seriously... the Yankees? I know they have a 'tradition' of winning... but when was their last WS title? 2001? They got close in 2003... but who'd they lose to? It's just not coming to mind... I think it starts with an 'M' and ends in 'arlins'... ?)

But this is 2009. And what a ride it's been so far. They started out the year 11-1... and are now back to a healthy 14-8. (Being too skinny is just as bad as being too fat.) But there is a lot of promise for this year. They've got power, speed, and some solid arms... watch out for these guys!

Got any fives? Uh, no. GO FISH!