Tagged: Cubs

It’s All Coming Back to Me Now


“I love you, Kevin Gregg” were the very last words I ever thought I’d utter after Gregg’s, um, exciting tenure with the Marlins in 2008. 
That changed Sunday evening at Land Shark Stadium as the Marlins took on the Cubs in the rubber match of the series, and Kevin Gregg took on the responsibility of continuing to remind Fish fans of what they have most definitely not been missing since last season. 
Ricky Nolasco was on the hill for the Marlins and put in a lovely performance, striking out eight and allowing just one run on four hits through seven innings. The bad news for Ricky was that Ryan Dempster also picked Sunday to have an excellent outing, and the former Florida pitcher held the Marlins to three hits over six scoreless innings.
Cody Ross finally got the Fish on the board in the seventh, tying the score at one run apiece when he homered off of [Marlin mutilator] Aaron Heilman. In the top of the ninth, Chicago reclaimed the lead as Brendan Donnelly’s streak of scoreless innings came to an end on a solo shot from Jake Fox. 
With the Cubs up 2-1, Kevin Gregg came in to close the game, and although I was there to witness some of Gregg’s more heart-wrenching performances for the Marlins last season, it really seemed too much to hope that even he would blow a save for the second game in a row. 
Obviously, my memories of Gregg have grown incredibly fuzzy over the last ten months. (Regardless of what the old cliche says, I don’t think that the passage of time ever fully heals all wounds. But, as my faith in Gregg’s ability to hold the lead would suggest, it certainly does a lot to dull the memories of their searing pain.)
Gregg got Hanley to pop out to start the inning, and that’s where the cheering ended–and, I’m assuming, guzzling of hard liquor started–for Cubs fans. Dan Uggla crushed a home run to tie up the score, and Cody Ross followed with his second long ball of the game– a walk-off home run that sealed the victory and the Marlins fourth series win in a row.
Judging from the number of hits this old blog entry received today from various cities throughout Illinois, Cubs fans are enjoying Kevin Gregg this season as much as Fish fans did in 2008.
Cody! Cody! Cody!

OH DEAR. (No, you can’t spell Burke Badenhop without it. Thank you for asking.)


We told you the new nickname was a bad idea. 
Whether it was the fault of his newfound title or not, “the Dragon” was slayed Saturday night in game two of the Marlins-Cubs series at Land Shark Stadium.
Hopper lasted just 1 2/3 innings and gave up six runs–5 earned–and walked four. But Badenhop’s rough start merely scratched the surface of the insanity this game had to offer. We pretty much saw it all in Saturday night’s ten-inning affair, and a good deal of it made us wish that the flashy red memory eraser thingy in the Men In Black movies was actually real and available for over-the-counter purchase. 
The Marlins had plenty of time to dig themselves out of the hole they were in after Badenhop struggled, and dig they did. Carlos Zambrano worked three innings and hit our all-star shortstop on the knee with a pitch before he left the game due to stiffness in his back. The Marlins scored once in the second, third and fourth innings and put two runs on the board in the fifth, and Brian Sanches, Kiko Calero and Luis Ayala held the Cubbies scoreless through the sixth inning.
Renyel Pinto managed to work out of trouble in the seventh, but he couldn’t hold the score in the eighth, so the Fish trailed the Cubs 8-5 as they faced former Marlins closer Kevin Gregg.
Although it seemed too much to hope that Kevin would pitch for the Cubs in the ninth the way he pitched so often for the Marlins in 2008, Gregg came through for the Fish. With two outs, Ronny Paulino hit his first career pinch-hit home run to bring the Marlins within two runs. Chris Coghlan and Nick Johnson followed with singles, and then the collective jaws of South Florida dropped to the ground as Emilio Bonifacio–playing for the injured Hanley Ramirez–tripled to tie up the score.
The tie was short-lived, unfortunately, and in the top of the tenth, Leo Nunez gave up a solo shot to former Marlin/current Marlin killer Derrek Lee, who was 4 for 6 on the night, and won it for the Cubs in extras.
Call the game exciting if you want, but whatever excitement the Marlins created for fans by “battling back,” they more than made up for with their abysmal defense and myriad men left on base.
I guess when Dan Uggla snapped the Marlins error-free game streak Friday night, the Fish didn’t make any immediate plans to start a new one. Maybe they wanted to make up for lost time. Whatever the case, the Fish committed three errors, two of which were Jorge Cantu’s as he struggled in his first start at third base this season.
Unearned runs obviously didn’t help the Marlins cause, and neither did the 14 runners the team stranded. On more than one occasion the Marlins left the bases loaded, and the Fish squandered chance after chance to take the lead from the Cubs.
Some good news in the middle of the giant mess of Super Saturday was Nick Johnson. The Marlins newly acquired first baseman was everything fans were hoping he would be in his debut as a Fish. Johnson was on base five times, going two for three with two walks, a run and an RBI.
Overall, this game pretty much sucked real bad.

Enter the Hopper. Er… Dragon.


During an interview this week, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez announced that Burke Badenhop was no longer “Hopper,” and that the team is now referring to him as “The Dragon.” Ross Gload actually came up with the nickname a while back, but it didn’t really stick until Badenhop’s ejection and subsequent suspension last week.
I get that the team thinks “Hopper” just doesn’t conjure enough intimidation and fear from opponents, but HLD&S takes issue with this new nickname, for several reasons:
1) Although I’m definitely a fan of dragons (I mean, who the heck isn’t?), I just have to ask, why mess with a good thing? “Hopper” has served Burke well so far this season as he’s pitched scoreless inning after scoreless inning in relief, and put in a very nice performance in his one start against the Phillies. We need to change that why?
2) Every story I’ve ever read that involved a dragon also involved its violent demise. Sure, they breathe fire and scare the living crap out of people, but in the end, they’re all slayed by a dude about 1/100 their size, who sports a measly sword and a suit of armor. (That, or they turn into a needy/insecure/life-sucking girlfriend as we all saw in Shrek. Neither option works, in my opinion.) 
The point is, things don’t typically end well for dragons, and I have yet to see anybody trying to slay a Hopper. All I’m saying is that as Badenhop makes his second start of the season tonight against the Cubs, if things don’t go well for him on the mound, HLD&S will place all blame directly on the newfound clubhouse nickname.
But what do I know? I think Burke said it best:

“I kind of like Hopper. It’s definitely better than Ross’ nickname. I’m a skinny white guy with no tattoos and a pretty unsuspecting guy to be called Dragon.”

Hopper has spoken, people. Enough of this “Dragon” business. Although the eyebrows do fit. And Burke “the Burninator” does have a nice ring to it. Hmmm…

Fish Quiet Cubs Fans in Series Opener

shut_up.jpgSitting in an overwhelming sea of bright blue while being drowned out by chants of “Let’s go Cubs” is not my favorite way to experience a Marlins home game.

I guess the Fish couldn’t do too much about the blue in the stands, but at least they did a pretty decent job of quieting the away team’s loud mouths as the Marlins opened their series against the Cubs Friday night at Land Shark Stadium. 

Chris Volstad was on the mound for Florida, and basically cruised through 6 2/3 innings, including four perfect frames to kick off the game. Cody Ross contributed to Volstad’s perfection with a Willie Mays-like Cody Ross-like catch in the third inning, and earned himself a spot on SportsCenter’s top ten.
While Volstad did his thing, Rich Harden went five innings for the Cubs, gave up five hits, walked three, and matched his career high in strikeouts, fanning 11 (which–as everyone of sound baseball knowledge knows–is just an extremely special accomplishment against the Marlins lineup). 
Fortunately, the K’s weren’t enough to ensure a victory for the Cubs starter. With two outs in the second inning, Harden couldn’t put Chris Volstad away, and the pitcher logged his first career RBI on a double that scored Jeremy Hermida. Which reminds me– HLD&S would like to request that every Marlins pitcher begin using Chris Volstad’s bat. The exchange has worked out nicely for Josh Johnson, who crushed two home runs with the magical wood, and after Chris’s RBI hit Friday, we are convinced the Volstad bat is key to our pitching staff’s offense.  
Jorge Cantu gave the Fish a two-run lead on a solo homer in the third, and the Marlins enjoyed said lead through six innings, before the inevitable finally happened… They say there is comfort in familiarity, and if Volstad is familiar with anything this season, it’s giving up the long ball. We’ll call it his security blanket. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Chris served up a big fat mistake to Jake Fox, who jacked a two-run shot to tie up the game and end Volstad’s night with a no decision. 
Luckily, the Cubs decided to send Carlos Marmol to pitch the eighth with the game tied up at two apiece. Marmol walked two before the Fish inexplicably thought it would be a super neat idea to have Jeremy Hermida bunt with runners on first and second and nobody out. Um, yeah. Good plan. The bunt was just a beauty, folks, and the Cubs got the lead runner, which is–I’m almost positive–not at all what we wanted to happen in that situation. Correct me if I’m wrong. 
The good news is Marmol was undaunted by his break, and came back to hit Ross Gload with a pitch before giving up an RBI single to John Baker to put the Marlins back in the lead.
Wes “Grit” Helms capped off the scoring in the eighth on a 2-run pinch-hit RBI off of Marshall to provide some insurance for the Fish, who–by the way–drove in every one of their five runs Friday night with two outs. Dan Meyer and Brendan Donnelly held the score, Leo Nunez closed up shop, and the Marlins took the series opener against the Cubbies. 
Ah, nothing beats droves of opposing fans filing dejectedly out of Land Shark Stadium.
The Fish have won eight of their last ten, trail the Phillies by six games in the East, and are two games back in the wild card race. Tonight, newly acquired first baseman Nick Johnson will make his first start as a Fish, thus (prayerfully) ending The Bonifacio Experiment. Burke “The Hopper” Badenhop will take the mound to make his second start of the season. (We refuse to call him “the Dragon,” Fredi. We refuse.)

Fish Rx


Unfortunately, while all that was going on, it seemed the Philadelphia Phillies decided that they would never lose a game again, ever, so the Fish gained exactly zero ground in the East going into the series finale with the Friars. But the Cubbies helped the Marlins out with a 10-5 pummeling of the Philths Wednesday afternoon, and so the Fish have gained at least one game on the reigning world champs. Thanks, Cubs. (And be sure to get all that “win” stuff out of your system before you head to South Florida next week.) 
The Marlins are now six games back in the East, and HLD&S has discovered its new favorite antidepressant: real bad teams.