WASHINGTON -- Everyone seems to be doing the Fish once more, South Florida's pro baseball team doing quite well in case you haven't heard.
The Marlins are winning games on the field and making winning deals off it, locking up Hanley Ramirez to a six-year deal. Good feelings about the deal in the Marlins clubhouse on Saturday, players saying they are happy to see this organization make a commitment to the future.
Sure this news also quiets some of the low payroll talk these guys face in every city (including Miami Gardens) they visit. The Marlins are playing well right now, helped along by a favorable schedule, sure. But, as a guy who covers the Florida Panthers can attest, wins early in the season count just the same as ones in the final weeks.
The Fish are eight games over .500 and they have the pitching and the offense and right now even the defense to keep up these winning ways. You have to think the Marlins are going to win a good portion of their next eight (today with Olsen throwing against the Expos, four games at WKRP in Cincinnati and three at home against the KC Royales with Cheese) before the NL West leading D-Backs come to South Florida.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves. No local television on today's game, and not sure if you can catch it at your local watering hole on Center Ice, err the MLB Package, or not. If not, catch Dave Van Horne and Glenn Geffner on the radio and remember to check back here throughout the day. Will be working Fish Bytes old school for those without a radio but with a laptop handy.
-- Come on, call your Mom. Tell her we all send her our best.
-- Fish Bytes and On Frozen Pond send out congratulations to San Diego's Greg Maddux for getting his 350th career victory last night. Think he's a Hall of Fame candidate now, or does he need to do more?
-- Do you realize the Marlins .611 winning percentage coming into today is second only to the D-Backs in the National League, and third overall (Boston is at .615). Florida's 22 victories rank them fifth in baseball. That's pretty heady stuff there.
-- Couple changes on the lineup today. As planned, Alfredo Amezaga back in center, leading off. Mike Rabelo also behind the plate (Matt Treanor played past three games and it's a night-day dealio). For the Expos, old pal (unless you're a Red Sox fan) Aaron Boone starting at first and batting fourth. He pinch-hit last night and was robbed thanks to a terrific catch in left by Brett Carroll.
Florida: CF Amezaga; RF Hermida; SS Ramirez; 3B Cantu; 2B Uggla; LF Gonzalez; 1B Helms; C Rabelo; P Olsen.
Montreal: SS Lopez; 2B Belliard; 3B Zimmerman; 1B Boone; CF Milledge; LF Pena; RF Dukes; C Flores; P Hill.
-- Here are some bonus quotes on the Hanley Ramirez signing from yesterday:
Manny Acta: “He’s special. He’s one of those few guys that you can say that. Hanley can do whatever he wants int the game. It’s that simple. He can hit a home run. He can bunt and steal second and third and score on anything. He’ll take a walk. He’ll hit over .320, almost guaranteed. He can do everything he wants in the game. He’s one of those legit five-tool players. there are a lot of guys a lot of people throw the five-tool guy at them and they’re not. This guy is a five-tool guy – legit.”
Dan Uggla: “I think it’s a great move. He’s going to be one of the best players in the game for a long time. He’s a winner and I think it’s really smart on their part. I’m real excited for Hanley. He plays his butt off.’’
Josh Willingham: “Fans want to be familiar with their players and they want to know the team is going to be commited to them. For him, to know he’s going to be around for a long time, maybe that’ll bring more fans out. I don’t know. It is good.’’
Luis Gonzalez:“It shows people that this organization is committed with the stadium coming. In the past, they’ve had to make moves to accomidate things because of the lack of fans coming out. By agreeing with Hanley, that shows there’s a commitment there where we’re going to do what we have to do to keep players like that and lock them up long time. That’s a commitment to the fans.’’
Fredi Gonzalez: “He’s one hell of a player, a good player. We’ve hit him third the past six, seven days and he gets on base, drove in some runs, walks, steals. His game hasn’t changed from being leadoff now that he’s in the three hole. If he gets on, he’s a threat to score.’’
-- Other news from today: Mike Jacobs still out, could play in the Natti. Josh Willingham will not do anything today, Fredi G saying his back was bothering him in BP yesterday. Willingham will travel with team to Ohio, maybe get in some BP there before getting his minor league rehab assignment.
-- About to get started here at Nationals Park, a number of the Marlins sporting some kind of pink today as park of baseball's annual Cancer awareness day. Some guys are wearing pink sweatbands (good luck breaking a sweat today), cleats or batting gloves. A good number of pink bats coming out as well. The Nats are giving out white caps with the Walgreens W in pink with the Cancer ribbon on the bill.
GAME TIME -- GAME TIME -- GAME TIME
-- First pitch from Shawn Hill (not the former Panthers defenseman) at 1:36 p.m. Alfredo Amezaga took a ball, did not hit the first pitch over the left field wall like Cody Ross did Saturday night...
Ironically, Sean Hill the hockey player is from Minnesota; Shawn Hill the baseballer is from Missasaugua, Ontario (which is outside of Toronto, home of the airport and, more importantly, Woodbine Racetrack.)
-- The US National softball team is here. I did not notice Jenny Finch. I was looking.
T1: Fish go 1-2-3; B1: Very efficient inning by Scott Olsen, puts down Nats in order on a mere six (yes, six) pitches.
T2: Marlins lead 1-0; with one out, Dan Uggla hit by pitch; races to third on bloop single by Luis Gonzalez and scores on sacrifice fly to center by Wes Helms. FLA 1-0. B2: And on pitch No. 9, Aaron Boone ties 'er up, line drive homer to center. 1-1. But, that's it for Nats. Hanley robs Lastings Milledge for the second straight night as Wash goes 1-2-3 after homer. Olsen now at 18 pitches.
T3: Jeremy Hermida and Hanley single with two outs, Cantu ends it by grounding out 5-3. Going on WQAM here for a few minutes, shall return.. B3: Nationals pick up three runs in the inning; Ronnie Belliard's 2-run homer to left makes it 3-1, then Aaron Boone doubles, error on Amezaga in center allowing Zimmerman to score. WASH 4-1.
T4: Marlins go out quietly 1-2-3. Abe Lincoln wins the President's Race (a cool rip-off of Milwaukee's Sausage Race) after Teddy Roosevelt runs into the crowd! That crazy president....B4: Wily Mo Pena walks to lead off the inning, but he didn't go anywhere as Olsen puts the Nats down after that. Still 4-1.
T5: Mike Rabelo singles to lead things off, gets taken out at second on Olsen's fielder's choice; Olsen out at second on Amezaga's fielder's choice for out No. 2; Amezaga makes sure he doesn't get into that mix, steals second before Hermida grounds out to second. Still 4-1. B5: Felipe Lopez walks to open things, moves to second on a Belliard groundout and is caught trying to steal third (larceny!). Zim flies out to deep center. Still 4-1...
T6: Nothing really happened, except Dan Uggla homered to center to pull Miami within two at 4-2. B6: Boone leads off with single, gets wrapped up in a 6-4-3, then Pena grounds out. Still at 4-2...
T7: Two outs and Olsen is out; Brett Carroll pinch-hitting; no win for Olsen (6 ip, 6h, 4r, 4ER, 2HR) today...Carroll grounds out, it's uno-dos-tres...Also, a scoring change from the third. No error for Amezaga and a triple for Boonie...Still 4-2. B7: Jesus Flores doubles off Logan Kensing with one out, pinch-hitter Nick Johnson strikes out for No. 2 and Felipe Lopez flies out deep to center as Amezaga tracks it down on the track..
T8: Marlins tie score...Hermida deposits pitch in right field bleachers after Amezaga runs out an infield single...4-4, no outs in the 8th..Marlins lead again...Uggla homers again, puts this one in right field as well...Fish up 5-4 with two outs in the eighth ('The Ocho').....end of the inning, a big one indeed, Fish up 5-4...B8: Renyel Pinto in for the Marlins; gives up a walk to Belliard to start things off, then the slumping Zimmerman grounds into a 6-4-3 double play for outs 1 and 2. Boonie just flew out to right.
T9: Marlins go 1-2-3, here comes Gregg (and the usual 'It Ain't Over' clip from Bluto on the big screen). Here's the full scene, minus the F-bombs courtesy of IMDB.com:
D-Day: War's over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.
Bluto: Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.
Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough...
Bluto: the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go!
[runs out, alone; then returns]
Bluto: What ---- happened to the Delta I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my [grass] from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Wormer, he's a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer...
Otter: Dead! Bluto's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.
Bluto: We're just the guys to do it.
D-Day: Let's do it.
Bluto: LET'S DO IT!
B9: Kevin Gregg in relief to close things out. Milledge up first, takes a free pass to first. Willie Harris has a broken-bat flare caught in right by Hermida for out numero uno. Elijah Dukes pops out to Uggla in foul territory for out number two. Jesus Flores up with two outs and a man on, sends shot back to Gregg how tossed to first for final out.
Your final from Washington, Florida 5-4 over the Nationals. Been fun covering the Marlins these past few weeks. See you all later.