Middle-of-the-day greetings, as tonight's posting weather is Uncertain with a 60% chance of drunkenness.
Is it possible for a team up two games to zip in a key series with a division rival to have that sinking feeling? Why yes it is. Hear that basso growl, the one with a hint of a high-pitched whine atop it? See the little bits of paper and trash starting to quiver and dance on the platform? Smell that little hint of smoke in the air?
That's the D-Train coming. And behind it, the Beckett Express.
You may want to shut your eyes for this next part — I'd type it that way if I could: Dontrelle Willis is 8-1 this year with a 1.55 ERA. He's faced us eight times in his career, and here are the numbers: 5-0, 2.31. The Marlins' record in those games? 7-0. (Beckett, meanwhile wound up on the wrong end of the unveiling of Aaron Heilman 2.0, but his career marks against us — which include his early scuffles — are 4-2, 2.41.)
So on paper we've already lost. We'll play 'em anyway, of course, in honor of Joaquin Andujar's favorite word in English,* but this is looking ugly, and that's not even considering whatever karmic horrors the Land of Teal will supply. (After yesterday's post I went looking for some numbers, and found something unexpected: After last night's game we're 45-45 in the history of what's now Dolphins Stadium. I would have guessed 22-68 or something equally awful. This lessens my dread by not a single shiver.)
In other news, the Eric Valent Era is over. Baseball is a pitiless game, and never more so than for the guys at the end of the bench. Valent had a terrific year in '04, emerging as a supersub with surprising pop and a talent for showing up in big moments. That let him turn his career from a tale of frustration to a nice story, one I admired all the more because Valent was the epitome of the kind of player who had to bowl over a big-league front office to get a look in the majors. At 5'11″ and 195 Valent's big for a civilian but small for a big-league player (and seems smaller), never mind that at UCLA he hit 69 home runs, still the Pac-10 record and more than amassed by the no-first-name-required likes of Bonds and McGwire. (Yes, there's an aluminum-bat factor at work here.) Valent had a great 2004, but he didn't get off to a good start in 2005 at all. If your name's Piazza or Mientkiewicz that's not fatal; if you're a bench guy, it is. Hopefully he'll catch on somewhere else. Hopefully he won't beat us too many times wearing a different uniform. Hopefully Victor Diaz will be unfazed by having hit under .200 at Norfolk and coming up to stare into the lights of the D-Train.
Oh, and turns out Shea is doing a Dog Night of its own: Aug. 20. First 5,000 fans get an unpainted bobblehead of either Matsui or Zambrano, ticket taker's choice. Rimshot. No, it's one of those mysterious promotions that takes place only out in the picnic area, rendering it for all intents and purposes invisible. Considering the alternatives, that seems like a good thing.
* Joaquin Andujar's favorite word in English was “You never know.” You could look it up .