You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ‘em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.
Walt’s Winners has taken the Cornell intramural co-ed softball 03:00PM league by storm with a stunning 2-0 W-L record and is now eligible for the playoffs. Our 7-3 victory (maybe 7-4, I don’t remember) over Dangerous Minorities tied us for first place with The Eliminators and Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica all with perfect 2-0 records.
This time the pitching was split between James and Isaac with the three earned runs coming in with James, but mostly a result of sloppy fielding by Isaac (hence the substitution). Kristen continued her pattern of showing up for games in altered states, this time showing up after having taken a tequila shot with some beer to chase it down. Even with all that, she still had a really solid game, knocking in a few runs again. James was the bit slugger this game as he cleared his slump with a 3-run homer that reminded us why he was one of the better baseball players in the state of Colorado back in high school. I filled Lee Stein’s place in center, but found no action there, since it seems that wherever I stand on the field will never see any balls hit in that direction. Unfortunately, I’m one of the better gloves (in my opinion) in the outfield and when we put James out there too, no balls went his way either, so the plays were fielded by Prethy (I don’t know how to spell her name) who wasn’t out playing Ultimate Frisbee this weekend, so played right field.
Yet another highlight was some taunting of the other team. In my heightened state of excitement, I yelled “Drop it!” and was called a jerk by my own team after the catcher did drop the softball. Then, on the next play, I heard my teammates muttering “Drop it!” at another fly, which I called them out on. Later on in the game, the pitcher threw a close one at the batter, to which I was like “Whoa, things are getting a little heated on the mound!” The rest of our team began chanting “Fruuuuustrated” like good Cornell fans. It was cool. The coup de grace was after a base hit to right field when a runner was being told to head home by the base coach and Kristen had the ball at first. When he didn’t seem to back off, Kristen yelled “Go ahead and run, I dare you!” which was also way awesome. She apologized after the game, but that didn’t stop the pitcher from being sullen and not wanting to give us “Good game” handshakes after the game.
Pope = Wins?
I should address quickly that the Nationals have yet to play in their new stadium since the Pope was there, but they’ll be really putting this potential blessing to the test as they go up against the NY Mets tonight. I wish you luck, especially since the Marlins are only 1.5 games ahead of the Mets. The Fish actually lost first place for a night or two to the Mets, but regained it with strong games against Pittsburgh and Washington. Which brings me to the topic of the week: Have the Marlins been doing so well because they’ve been playing weak teams?
Strong Offense, Weak Pitching
Many view the 2008 Marlins as a fluke. Certainly no one expected them to even come close to first place, much less hold it for majority of the first month of play. Skeptics cite pitching weakness, which is definitely true, but the Marlins have an insanely well performing offense. In the National League alone, the Marlins are second in Slugging Percentage (0.477), second in Home Runs (30), fourth in Triples (5), and second in Doubles (46) (This is out of the 16 teams in the National League). If you believe that this performance is due to mainly playing losing teams, then, fine, the numbers aren’t that impressive, but in baseball you have to take account of the intangibles. Hanley Ramirez had a relatively slow start out of the gate, but now he’s back to the top performances we’re all used to thanks to those games allowing the Fish to get into the groove of things.
Take a look at the opening series against the Mets this year. Two losses for a losing series. Look next at games against another hard team, the Braves, which took place once the Marlins hit first place. This time we have two wins for a winning series. The Marlins are 3-3 against capable NL East opponents (yeah, I said it…the Nationals do not count as capable) and they’ll be putting that to the test tonight in Atlanta against the Braves for a two-game series.
Do I think they’ll be able to hold on to first place? It’s tricky. The Marlins have no pitching. There are basically only two starters who can be counted on to win, Mark Hendrickson and Scott Olsen, and the rest of the team relies on run support from the amazing offense to get wins, when they can. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me complain about Andrew Miller, but he’s starting against Atlanta tonight and I can only pray that he manages to put a W up, what with his 9.68 ERA. I mean, only two of our five starting pitchers have an ERA below 4.00. I can only hope that allowing the young pitchers to cur their teeth on Washington and Pittsburgh will help them dominate the Mets, Braves, and Phillies. All three of those teams will make the Marlins pay if they don’t start to get their pitching in order.