August 22, 2008

Yep, We're the Worst

MetrorailCongratulations, South Florida!

Forbes Magazine recently did a story calling our fair part of the world the worst American city to live in as a sports fan. San Diego is second, Indianapolis third.

The Forbes study is based on winning percentage of the pro teams in the area (the Canes' 5-7 season wasn't even included) compared to the price of tickets to see those teams.

Based on winning percentages alone, last year was rough. According to Forbes, South Florida's aggregate winning percentage of .400 was ranked 27th of the 29 major metro areas in this report (there was a major city whose pro teams were worse that ours last year? Where?)

To make matters worse, South Florida is paying a pretty penny to see such mediocrity in person, the average price for a family of four to see a game down here close to $300. Hey, it's their math, not mine.
Want to read more about our crummy state of sports? Click here.

Of course, there's always next year. I'm betting our combined winning percentage will be better next season (can the Dolphins go 1-15 again? The Heat can't be as crummy as they were last year, can they? Doubt it.) As far as the expensive tickets go, well, I don't see that changing very much. Maybe next year we'll only be No. 2. Or three. Whatever.

We're gunning for you San Diego!

And remember: Stay classy, San Diego.

May 03, 2008

Preparing for the Move

Lastsmoke3 Tonight is University of Miami Family Night at Joe Robbie Stadium, something the Marlins have done in the past but tonight takes on a different feel since the Canes football team is moving here come August.

Charleston Southern? Who?

Anyway, little more green mixed in with the orange seats here in Miami Gardens, a lot of UM facility, students and alums taking in the game.

Sebastian the Ibis is down on the field taking photos with Billy the Marlin, a little ironic since these two mascots will be switching venues in the coming years. Sebastian gets to stay, Billy has to move (although I'll believe in Marlins Park at the Orange Bowl when I see the cement being poured. And even then I may be a tad skeptical).

As far as baseball goes, not much change from Friday night. Marlins throwing out the same lineup it did last night, save for pitcher Ricky Nolasco going instead of Mark Hendrickson.

Padres making quite a few changes to the lineup, trying to get something going. The Fathers have lost four of five and 13 of 16. In past five games, Pads have scored 15 runs.

-- Here are tonight's starting lineups:

Marlins: Amezaga CF; Hermida RF; Ramirez SS; Jacobs 1B; Cantu 3B; Uggla 2B; Gonzalez LF; Rabelo C; Nolasco P

Padres: Giles RF; Iguchi 2B; Gonzalez 1B; Kouzmanoff 3B; Edmonds CF; Greene SS; Bard C; McAnulty LF; Peavy P

-- Nice run by Big Brown, no? First horse since 1929 to win out of the 20 slot. Definite shame to see Eight Belles (which placed) break both front ankles after the race and have to be euthanized almost immediately. Always hate to see that.

Mayra_2 -- Throwing out the first pitch: On Frozen Pond favorite Mayra Veronica (called one of 100 sexiest women by FHM back when FHM was around). Bad pitch, but who cares? The Marlins, I should add, need more Mayra Veronica.

This was not the first time she threw out the first pitch when I covered a Marlins game. Some of you may remember this post from back in the day.

-- Tomorrow should be a good time at the ballpark. Padres' Greg Maddux going for his 350th career victory against the Fish. Start time at 1:10. What else you got going on?

-- For those Marlins fans who enjoy visiting cyberspace, The Herald is about to launch a new blog just for the Marlins. Clark Spencer, Mike Phillips and myself will opine on everything Marlins at Fish Bytes. Coming soon to a neighborhood computer near you.

Should be up and running by the time I cover the Marlins in DC next week. So keep your eyes peeled.

-- Padres lineup doing a bit of damage tonight...three runs for SD in the first two innings...Marlins get two in the first off a Mike Jacobs homer to left...

-- Still 3-2 here in the fourth, Jorge Cantu making a great defensive stop, running over to the founder's box seats behind third to get a Brian Giles popup, then spinning and throwing to a hustling Hanley Ramirez to cover third and get Paul McAnulty trying to tag up. Check SportsCenter for that one....


-- Montreal trying to stave off elimination, leading the Philly Phlyers 3-1 with 7:22 left in the second period...

-- At the World Championships today, Panthers d-man Magnus "Magnum" Johansson gets a goal as Sweden upends Belarus 6-5.

Olliinternational -- And Olli Jokinen gets things going for Finland, his goal gave the Fins a 2-0 lead on Germany and turns out to be the game-winner, Finland dropping the VWs 5-1...

Now, back to your regularly scheduled baseball game...

-- Marlins trail 6-2, Peavy pulled after walking Luis Gonzalez with two outs in the sixth...

-- Back to hockey: Former Panther d-man Ruslan Salei (bounced out of playoffs by Red Wings) is going to play in the Worlds, joining Belarus on Monday...

-- Philly/Montreal tied at 4 with 7 minutes left...

-- Indians/Royals scoreless in the fourth...

-- Oh my: Flyers come all the way back, now lead Habs 5-4 with 3 minutes left. If Bullies when this one, someone in Montreal could get hurt...those fans/crazy drunks are nuts....sure the police horses are out in force in the old city as we speak...

-- Oh my II: The Marlins Manatees just did a routine on the field to 'Peanut Butter Jelly Time.'' No Dancing Banana here...

-- Announced crowd: 37,689...upper deck looks good and full so maybe...

-- Make it 6-4 Flyers...Habs were last chance for a Canadian Cup champ this year...

May 02, 2008

There's Something About Jennifer (Aniston)


Jennifer Aniston is in the House Joe Robbie Built Friday night as she and Owen Wilson are here filming a scene for their upcoming movie Marley & Me at the ballpark.

Since one of the other major stars of the flick is a dog (named Marley) it's only fitting they are filming at Bark at the Park night.

They filmed on the third base side of the lower bowl as it appears the scene revolves around the dog (Marley) getting loose and taking a premium seat down low. Owen Wilson and Ms. Aniston race down the steps to retrieve their pooch and herd him back upstairs.

The dog also gets loose and runs around on the field. That scene, again starring Ms. Aniston and Sr. Wilson, was filmed in left field during the ninth inning. The two actors chased the pup around the field, and it seemed like they all enjoyed it. Especially the dog.

PS: Marlins win, beating the Padres 6-4.

"[Aniston] definitely looked a lot better than I did,'' said left fielder Luis Gonzalez, who watched the scene unfold before going out to left for the top of the ninth. "I didn't know [the scene] was happening then or I might have run out there a little quicker to help her catch the dog.

Aniston2 "I would have jumped in front of Owen Wilson, grabbed the dog and handed it to her. That would have made a real hero, right? I should have screwed that whole scene up. What would they do, kick me off the field?"

Said manager Fredi Gonzalez of Aniston's 'running' ability: "She made some pretty athletic moves out there. She wasn't bad. .-.-. I knew they were going to do it, just didn't know what inning it would be. The umpires knew all about it so it was good. She's pretty athletic. She made some zig-zags out there.''

-- According to the Marlins, 754 dogs took in Friday's game -- don't know if the pooch who plays Marley was counted. You can be sure the Marlins jacked up their attendance numbers by counting Aniston, Wilson, the film crew and the extra Miami-Dade police officers brought in for the scene.

The Marlins say the Bark in the Park promotion benefited the Humane Society of Miami-Dade and Broward, so good deal there. Fans paid $12 to get up there in the upper deck, with an additional $6 per pooch.

Majorleague -- This is not the first time Joe Robbie Stadium has been the backdrop of a major motion picture. The stadium's other film credits include Any Given Sunday, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Major League IV: The Indians Cough It Up '97.

Obdemolision1 Of course, the Orange Bowl has a much more varied and extensive film resume, but I really don't feel like talking about my old friend right now. Still painful. Here's a picture of what used to be the Best Damn Stadium in the Land as of Thursday morning. Sad, ain't it.

-- And who else but On Frozen Pond gives you a blog entry with Jennifer Aniston, Charlie Sheen and the Orange Bowl in it?

Don't even bother looking, there isn't one.

You Stay Classy, San Diego (And Thanks for Visiting. But Mostly, Stay Classy)

BurgandyThe Padres are in town tonight, and a good portion of fans at Joe Robbie Stadium will be of the four-legged variety as the team celebrates it's annual Bark in the Park night.

Good times for those of you who have dogs and like baseball. Those who don't have dogs and don't like baseball, well, sorry for you pal.

Few notes from this afternoon's bull session with Fredi Gonzalez. Josh Willingham is out and on the 15 day DL with his wonky back (full post below), Hanley Ramirez is being bumped to the third slot in the lineup with the Alfredo Amezaga/Cody Ross center field combo leading off. Anibal Sanchez pitched a bullpen session here at the Joe this afternoon, and Josh Johnson threw a BP session in Jupiter.

-- Here are tonight's starting lineups:

Marlins: Amezaga CF; Hermida RF; Ramirez SS; Jacobs 1B; Cantu 3B; Uggla 2B; Gonzalez LF; Rabelo C; Hendrickson P

Padres: Giles RF; Iguchi 2B; Gonzalez 1B; Kouzmanoff 3B; Greene SS; Hairston CF; Huber LF; Morton C; Germano P

-- Marlins new look lineup kicking it old school from the start. Alfredo leads off with a double to center, scores on single and E9 off bat of Hermida. In second inning, Uggla (batting sixth instead of second) slams on into the club seats in left. In the second, Marlins up 2-0...

-- Good news for horse racing fans: You can bet the Kentucky Derby tomorrow, only catch is you can't do it at Calder. Because of a continued dispute with the Florida Horsemen, Calder cannot send its signal out of state (aside to New York) for wagering purposes. On the flip side, Kentucky's horsemen aren't allowing its signal to go to Calder (ironic, since Churchill Downs owns Calder).

You can bet the entire Derby Day card at Gulfstream tomorrow (see you there) or bet only the 134th Run for the Roses at Dania Jai-Alai or Pompano Park. Happy plunging!

-- Aside from dogs, should be quite a few fans up from the Keys tonight to root on Key West High grad Khalil Greene of the Padres. Greene is in his sixth season with the Pads after graduating from Clemson. And he draws a striking resemblance to a young Sean Penn. If they do a prequel -- or a remake of  Fast Times at Ridgemont High -- Khalil will get a call to play Spicoli. Compare, contrast and Aloha, Mr. Hand: Spicoli Khalil


Willingham on DL


Marlins left fielder Josh Willingham was placed on the 15 day disabled list on Friday afternoon, with Brett Carroll recalled from Triple A Albuquerque.

Willingham hasn’t played since Sunday in Milwaukee because of a sore lower back. Willingham has been placed on the DL retroactive to Monday, so if his back feels better, he could return May 13 in Cincinnati.

“It’s one of those things,’’ manager Fredi Gonzalez said prior to Friday’s game at Dolphin Stadium against San Diego. “We couldn’t play short so it was a decision we had to make. If everything goes well, he only misses 10 games.’’

Willingham had been tearing it up for the Marlins, leading the team with a .341 batting average. Willingham’s six homers and 16 RBI both rank third on the team.

Luis Gonzalez once again filled in for Willingham in left field on Friday, although Fredi Gonzalez said Carroll was going to see some playing time in the coming days.

Carroll spent four days with the Marlins from April 1-5, going 1 for 8 with a triple. With the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League, Carroll has been exceptional, hitting .418 in 18 games with nine home runs and 23 RBI.

Carroll was traveling to South Florida after getting the call and was expected to be at Dolphin Stadium in time for Friday’s game.

(*) With Willingham out, Fredi Gonzalez is going to try some new things, moving shortstop Hanley Ramirez to third in the order. Ramirez has been leading off. Gonzalez says the Marlins are going to try different players out in the leadoff slot, adding Cody Ross may get some more playing time and hit in that position.

“The timing is right to move Ramirez into the three hole,’’ Gonzalez said. “Having [Mike] Jacobs back gives him a little protection there.’’

Second baseman Dan Uggla is also moving, going from second in the lineup to sixth. “He can just go out there and swing the bat,’’ Gonzalez said.  

April 30, 2008

Now, More Marlin!

Marlin1Another day of baseball here at Joe Robbie Stadium in south Miramar, your Miami Marlins getting set to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of a three-game set.

Looking forward to seeing Scott Olsen on the mound tonight, and while I know we're only a month into the season, but I guess you can call the 24-year-old the ace of this staff. He is 3-0 after all, the Marlins winning all five of his starts.

Marlinolsen And if Olsen is the ace of this Florida staff, is it safe to call him Marlin Olsen?

Anyways, little bit of news out of the Marlins clubhouse today. Mike Jacobs is out tonight, he took a cortisone injection into his injured right middle finger. Fredi Gonzalez says Jacobs is back starting at first in tomorrow's noon game against the LADs.

Also, Josh Willingham is still hurting, his back really stiffening up during the night although Hammer said it loosened up as the day wore on. He won't start tonight but will hit if needed. Willingham says he expects to be back Thursday, and if not Friday at the latest.

-- Flag presentation done by the fellas at Cypress Bay High in Weston. Where is that bay, exactly?

-- Walked around the club section here at JRS today and came away impressed not only with the new amenities, but with the mini Hall of Fames they have built -- and stocked -- every few feet or so. Built into the walls, there are displays honoring past Super Bowls played in South Florida and for the Dolphins Super Bowl championship teams, the Marlins, the Hurricanes, the (FedEx) Orange Bowl and South Florida high school football.

Liked them all, although the folks from UM really need to spruce up their collection. The football side looked like it had all been purchased at the Pembroke Lakes Mall.

-- Pirates thump the Mets 13-1 today, so no matter what happens tonight, the Marlins head into May atop the National League East.

Don't think too many people predicted that turn of events.

-- Someone just called me on my cellphone to remind me "it's early. Real early."

-- Don't forget to vote on the previous two 'Frozen Polls.' One directly below this entry has to do with the low attendance at Marlins games, the one below deals with the Panthers coaching search. Feel free to leave a comment after voting. It'll make you feel good.

-- We're underway at the Joe...And Rafael Furcal leads off with a single over Jorge Cantu at third...Marlin Olsen gets out of inning unscathed...

-- Just noticed a fan wearing a Hee-Seop Choi jersey. Three words: That is Awesome! The Hee-Seop Choi era in South Florida was over way too quickly for this guy. Who Seop? Hee-Seop. Choi!

-- Dodgers get a homer to left from Russell Martin, tag on two more in the third...LAD 3, FLA 0 in top of 4th....

-- PS: Dodgers lead 13-1 here in the eighth inning. And the Canadiens are in big, big trouble.

-- Marlins lose and I head off into the sunset and get ready for a fantastic root canal on Thursday. Will be back (hopefully) on Friday.

Good night from north Hialeah everyone....

April 29, 2008

Too Few are Doing the Fish -- Live from the Joe

Billy Covering the Miami Marlins tonight, and it appears we're going to have another Friends and Family night at the football yard.

Everyone's tired about hearing about the small crowds at Joe Robbie Stadium night after night I'm sure. But there has to be a reason -- or two, or three -- folks down here don't support this team.

You all know the Fighting Fish are a first-place club at the moment, right?

I plan to update this site during the game tonight, and was hoping to get some feedback on why fans -- the ones who live in South Florida -- don't come out to see the Marlins more often. Feel free to vote, for sure, but also leave a comment on why you do -- or don't -- like coming down to Joe Robbie Stadium to watch the team.

-- Crowd filling and settling in here at the Joe but still on the smallish side. The Dodgers, who haven't been in Florida since bailing on Vero Beach back on St. Patrick's Day, getting up and around on Andrew Miller. LADs get a run off three singles to left in the opening inning. In the second, LADs load 'em up with two outs, Matt Kemp singles in a pair to make it 3-0. Jeff Kent follows suit, singling into center to make it 5-0.

And the Marlins get the bullpen going....

-- Speaking of Vero Beach, the Dodgers plan on being in their new digs in Gretzkytown (AKA Glendale, Ariz.) come February. The Indians (2009) and Reds (2010) join the Dodgers out in Arizona, the Ohio teams moving to a new complex in Goodyear.

Last team training in Florida bring the citrus....

-- The Marlins trail 6-1 after a wild pitch, then something truly wild happened: The Mermaids, the team's scantily clad dance troupe, did a routine on the field in which they moved and grooved to Motley Crue's ode to adult clubs, Girls, Girls, Girls

Somewhere, a prepubescent teen asked "Dad, where's the Dollhouse in Fort Lauderdale? And can we go there sometime?'' No son, you can't. But at least we have the Mermaids!

-- Dan Uggla goes deep into the club seats....Marlins trail 6-2 heading to the fourth...

-- The line on Miller: 3 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 62 pitches, 33 strikes

-- Hockey friends Josh Friedman, Craig Minervini and Frank Forte all send their best to Panther fans out there...

-- I'm not watching it obviously, but Pens seem to be taking it to the Rangers at MSG. This would be Pitt's first win at the Garden this season if the Pens hold on. I picked the Rangers to win this series, a move I'm regretting with each passing moment of the series. Had Rangers been able to get that win in Game 1, things might be a bit different. Of course, had I covered hockey in Detroit and not South Florida, I'd be covering playoff hockey and not watching baseball in a football stadium in Miami.

-- Jorge Cantu leads off fourth with a double to center; after Luis Gonzalez singled, Mike Rabelo's sac fly to center makes it a 6-3 LAD lead...

Office -- Speaking of the Mermaids, this is how you celebrate winning some playoff hockey games. I have a buddy who is regional manager of a paper company in Scranton, Pa. Wonder if he goes to any of these games?

-- Going to bottom of fifth, still Vero Beach Dodgers 6, Jupiter Marlins 3

-- Hey hey, here come the Rangers....Nueva York puts up a pair of quick goals in the second period and tie up the Penguins 3-3...

-- And here come the Marlins....Jeremy Hermida drives in two with a broken-bat double to right...Hanley Ramirez (E3) and Dan Uggla (BB) come in, Hermida to third on a throwing error home...Marlins have pulled to within one @ 6-5...

And Jorge Cantu continues his big day...Cantu (profiled by Clark Spencer in today's Miami Herald) is now 3-for-3, his RBI single driving in Hermida and tying this thing at 6...Miller off the hook...

-- Just some great all-out baseball being played here at the Joe...those of you who haven't noticed ("and judging by the attendance, you haven't") are really missing out...

Dan Uggla just went 100 miles per hour and headfirst into the stands to grab a high popup...then, with two outs, Alfredo Amezaga races in to make a great stab and end the inning...just fun times here at the Joe these days...

-- Pens opening it up again, lead two once more...5-3 over the Rangers...

-- Oh, and we're still tied at the Joe @ 6...going to the top of the eighth...

-- Marlins score a touchdown in the eighth -- or at least catcher Mike Rabelo celebrated like he scored off a Dan Marino pass. With two outs in the inning, Mark Sweeney lines a shot into the right field corner...Blake DeWitt comes barreling around third looks to score, but Hermida's throw is right on line to Rabelo...the Marlins first-year catcher makes the catch, turns and gets run over by DeWitt.

Rabelo braced for the hit -- actually turned a shoulder into the hit -- and spiked the baseball (ala Pete Rose or Mark Duper) at home plate.

Good stuff indeed...