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.
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…
The Marlins West coast road trip ended with a bang–or perhaps a better term would be plunk–Sunday evening at Dodger Stadium.
Chris Volstad wasn’t at his greatest, giving up four runs on eight hits and walking four in 5 1/3 innings, but thankfully, the Marlins bats decided to pick up the slack. The Fish scored five runs off of starter Jason Schmidt, who lasted just three innings, and tacked on another three runs against Jeff Weaver before the real show began.
Whether it was Hanley’s multitudinous hits and RBI that had the Dodgers in a tizzy, or the memory of Josh Johnson hitting two Dodgers–including Manny Ramirez–on Friday night, or just the simple fact they were being shelled, LA decided to take aim at the Marlins superstar.
Still down 8-0 in the top of the sixth inning, Jeff Weaver began blatantly throwing at Hanley Ramirez. It took several tries for Weaver to actually accomplish his mission, and home plate umpire Bob Davidson warned both benches. (Which was, you know, totally fair to everyone involved.)
Despite the warning, you just can’t spell Badenhop without B-E-A-N. You also just can’t let teams take the liberty of throwing fastballs at the appendages of your star player, and unlike The Toronto Incident, there was no mistaking the intention behind Weaver’s pitches. The Fish didn’t need any more post-game Hanley drama over a perceived lack of protection from the Marlins pitchers, so in the bottom of the 7th, Burke Badenhop, our long reliever extraordinaire, took one for the team when he, uh, totally by accident, “yanked” a fastball. Unlike Weaver, the Hopper didn’t miss. He beaned Orlando Hudson smack on the backside, and was promptly ejected from the game along with manager Fredi Gonzalez.
And that, folks, is how it’s done.
The way Hopper was greeted by teammates back at the dugout, you’d think he had just tossed a no-hitter or hit his first career grand slam. Or saved planet Earth from a falling asteroid. On the HLD&S scale of heroism, the plunking was at least on par with saving babies from a burning building.
After Hop took care of business, the Dodgers attempted a comeback of sorts, scoring twice off of Leo Nunez in the bottom of the ninth. But when all was said and done, the Marlins came out on top.
So the Fish have taken two of three from the team with the best record in baseball, won five of six on the West Coast overall, and are headed home to play some series in a time zone that is far more conducive to HLD&S’s sleep schedule. Ah, life is good.
(HLD&S blames this entry in its entirety on our overexposure to Comic-Con this past week, courtesy of FSN Florida. Please send all complaints to Frank Forte.)
As everyone knows, the Golden Hook is the most sought-after accolade in the game of baseball, awarded semi-annually by HLD&S to only the most deserving of Marlins. The “Hookie” is so coveted, in fact, that it is rumored to be the reason Manny Ramirez wanted to play for the Marlins last season. (True story.)
And now, without further delay, the envelope, please. And the Hookie goes to…
JJ is our first recipient of a Golden Hook, for obvious reasons. The All Star ace leads the Marlins pitching staff in every category that matters, and is one of the best pitchers in the league. Need we say more? No. But we still will, of course. It is HLD&S’s firm belief that had Johnson started in the All Star Game, the National League would have pulled out the victory.
If this bestowment needs to be explained to you, then you obviously happened upon this blog while searching for information about fishing reels. Move along.
You know that feeling where you get all queasy in your stomach and you feel like puking and your heart starts thumping wildly and chills of fear make the hair on the back of your neck stand up? No? OK, think back to the last time Matt Lindstrom came into a game. Are you with us now? Thought so. Kiko Calero has never given us that feeling. When K-Lero comes into a game, usually warm fuzzy feelings–and more importantly, OUTS–ensue.
All that stuff we just said about Kiko Calero? Yeah, just do a “find and replace” in your brain to swap Kiko’s name with Dan’s, and mentally paste that right here. Thanks.
Seriously. Not getting benched or demoted to low-A or kicked out of the game of baseball entirely requires some serious skills when you happen to be the worst player of all time. (Admittedly, we may have gone a bit far with the “of all time” part.) Considering his struggles, the fact that Bonifacio has somehow managed to still be leading off and playing third base for a Major League club has garnered him his very first Golden Hook. (HLD&S stands by its statement that accusations we paid an awards presenter to impale the third baseman with the trophy are completely fabricated. And besides, a broken bone would be far more advantageous to us if we’re talking DL stint.)
Looking at the Hopper’s contributions to the first half of the Marlins season, we would be remiss to exclude him from these honors. Whether Hop’s swooping in to save the day when a starter tanks, holding the score for multiple innings when a game goes into extras, or even starting a game when the need arises, he’s been invaluable to the team thus far this season.
It’s been a while since a pitcher made the transition from “starter we are petrified to see on the mound” to “starter we are completely OK with” in just the first half of the season. In our book, that’s worthy of a Golden Hook (HLD&S reserves the right to strip you of your trophy in event that you revert back to your pre-demotion ways. Not a threat or anything. Just sayin’.)
And that concludes the Golden Hooks of the first 90 games of the season. We’ll try not to be as stingy with our praise after the second half. Then again, that may require that the Fish do a bit more to impress us over the next 72 games.
It’s a good thing I turned the TV off when Justin Upton stole second in the fifth inning of Thursday night’s series opener between the Marlins and the Diamondbacks. My neighbors probably wouldn’t take too kindly to being jerked from their slumber by bloodcurdling yelps of horror.
Thankfully, I was headed to dreamland when Gerardo Parra’s liner smashed Badenhop in the leg and sent him to the ground, and thus did not have to experience firsthand the bone-chilling fear of a Hopper-less bullpen… or of being physically assaulted by the folks next door.
Seriously. Who else do the Marlins have who can be depended on to come in and mop up a mess the likes of which Andrew Miller left when he exited the game after just 2 2/3 innings?
Thankfully, the x-rays came back negative, and Badenhop is listed as day-to-day. Starters, make a mental note: no flaking out until Hop is good to go.