Taylor Tankersley looked at me like I was crazy last night when–as Armando Benitez exited the bullpen to pitch the eighth–I motioned for the lefty to keep warming up. Well, perhaps Tank has been paying more attention to perfecting the art of balancing his cap on the bridge of his nose than to Benitez’ pitching, because he ignored my pleas and continued to lounge. Several pitches and a blown lead later, they got the call from someone way more important than me, and the bullpen sprang into action.
Unfortunately, the damage had been done. Another blown lead. Another Marlins loss to add to the ever-expanding list.
Armando’s response to his latest blown save? "He hit a slider. What can I do?" Well, "show the slightest twinge of regret over losing another game for the Marlins" is clearly not one of the possibilities, so I have a few alternate suggestions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO, ARMANDO:
1) Graciously concede the eighth inning to Justin Miller, a pitcher who acts as though he is at least semi-interested in his job.
2) Take on a less pivotal role in the bullpen (such as water man, gatekeeper, ball boy, sacrificial lamb).
3) Fall off the face of the Earth.
Now, it may seem I am being overly critical of Benitez, seeing as he has only officially blown three games. However, his nonchallance on the mound (and following another bitter disappointment for Fish fans) makes defending him a little difficult. And that is without mentioning his ERA of 6+ since joining the Marlins.
I don’t boo my own players, so I didn’t join in the chorus last night at Dolphin Stadium, but I am beginning to feel as though Jorge Julio would be a welcome alternative. Bear with me on this one… At least after demolishing leads every night, Julio would practically weep to the media in contrition and fretfulness over his horrendous excuse for pitching. Armando simply shrugs indifferently, expressing the same amount of emotion he likely shows upon discovering a piece of lint on his jersey, and explains that there was "nothing he could do."
Well, there’s something Fredi can do: yank his apathetic rear end from the eighth.
In Other News:
While the Marlins fell to the Rockies last night, my evening at Dolphin was not a total waste. Apparently the elected bullpen activities coordinator, Tank kept the fans in my section entertained with his "Bored Reliever Olympics," a series of games that–in my book–scored far higher than the one that took place on the field. Though the aforementioned hat-on-nose balancing act was indeed impressive, the bottle cap launching proved to be a personal favorite.
If you happen to pick up this week’s issue of USA Today’s Sports Weekly, flip to page 12 and enjoy a column on Hook, Line Drive & Sinker. Though my interview was butchered (as one expects when one is less important than the stadium peanut guy), and the "I miss Girardi" jargon was almost entirely fabricated (but necessary to evoke any interest in the article, I suppose), At least the blog url was spelled correctly. Small victories.