October 6, 2015When I started blogging and Facebooking a few months ago, I decided I wasn’t going to post about baseball because I know few things are worse than someone panting and jumping up and down and spewing excitedly about something a lot of people find tediously boring. Wait, now that I think about it, isn’t that what blogging and Facebooking is? OK, well, whatever. Like I was saying, baseball. I. FUCKING. LOVE. IT!!! Omg, it feels so good to get that out!!!
Just for some context, the Miami Marlins are my team. I also have a special place in my heart for the Yankees and Mets. I also root for the Braves and the Cardinals. And I like the Giants and the Cubs too. I know, weird fan, but oh well. So, this season…
I almost made it. I went the whole baseball season and nary a blog/post about it. I didn’t write about a shockingly awesome offseason in which, among other things, the normally cheap-ass Marlins signed Giancarlo Stanton, one of the game’s most powerful, game-changing players to a huge (like, HUGE. Like, the hugest, ever, in all of sports. Seriously.) long term contract. I didn’t write about going to spring training games in Jupiter that were so intimate, we could essentially hang out with players in the bullpen. I didn’t write about the high hopes and expectations of the Marlins regular season not just being unrealized, but annihilated as the team went down in a painful slump of underperformance and injury. I didn’t write about Jose Fernandez, one of the best and most dynamic pitchers in baseball, coming back from Tommy John surgery after 14 months, or that we went to that game—and got on TV!—with neon signs that said, Yes Way, Jose!
And this was just the Marlins! I watch plenty of other baseball too. Still, no baseball blogs.
But then Sunday came. The last day of the season. The day after the Resolve Walk of Hope when I was feeling so up, so inspired, and so, so grateful for the family I have and everyone and everything that helped me get there. And baseball was one of those things. Truly, baseball finds a way to inspire me every day. It thrills me, it comforts me, and I know it sounds dramatic, but I swear, it nourishes me. So I’m not going to bombard anyone with baseball posts, but I’m not holding back any more either.
Which brings me back to Sunday and how, even though they lost, the Marlins last game of the season became a beacon of light in an otherwise dismal season, and why I decided to stop clamming up about this wonderful sport.
First, there was Dee Gordon, the Marlins second baseman. All last season I said, “You know who we need? Dee Gordon.” He hits, he steals, he runs like lightning. He makes impossible plays with flare and pure athleticism. And he smiles, man, does he smile, and so does everyone he’s around.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think we were going to get him (from The Dodgers), I didn’t even know if he was available, I just loved him. The night I heard the Marlins signed him, I yelled so loud I woke up my kids.
We met him during Spring Training in Jupiter, and he has been a complete joy to watch all season. And on Sunday, he won the National League Batting Title (highest batting average), beating out Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, who by pretty much all accounts, will win National League MVP. Several days earlier, Dee had already also topped the National League in steals. (The last to do both in the same season? Jackie Robinson in 1949.) He had 205 hits on the season. He initiated the dunks heard round the baseball world. He, in a word, inspired. How could I not write about it? Thank you and Congratulations, Dee Gordon, Speedy D!!!!
The second thing that happened during Sunday’s Marlins game was that Manager Dan Jennings put Ichiro Suzuki in to pitch relief in the 8th inning. Ichiro is a future Hall of Famer, no question, period, end of story. But he’s a future Hall of Fame outfielder. And apparently, one who has always wanted to pitch in a major league game, and he finally got his shot.
I loved Ichiro pitching for two reasons. First, it was just a fun, honorable thing to watch during the last game of a rough season. He didn’t exactly rock it, but he didn’t get rocked, either. He himself seemed pained by his performance to which I say, Ichiro, friend, you were great, thank you (because a universally beloved Hall of Famer definitely needs to hear this from me, lol).
Second, I am cracking up that Dan Jennings—who, I won’t go into the whole story, but got completely thrown under the bus and into the dugout as manager when the Marlins fired former manager Mike Redmond this season—just got his name in the Hall of Fame, where it will surely be as the manager who had Ichiro pitch.
It was often painful to watch Jennings this season, so obviously out of his element in the managerial role, but he took his lumps, supported his players, and never complained, never wavered in his belief that this team is better than they were playing. I feel positive about the September upswing in the Marlins play, but I still bet no one will be happier going home this week than Dan Jennings, and now he’s going to the Hall of Fame too. Well played, DJ. I hope he laughs his ass off all the way to his sweet home Alabama.
I’m always sorry to see the end of the regular season. But as always, thanks for a great, inspirational several months, Baseball. I Heart You!
Now let’s pass out the peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and bring on the postseason! Or as I call it, Oh Ye Month of Little Sleep! Woo hoo!!