I got in a fair amount of trouble earlier this summer for admitting I don't hate the Phillies. (Link omitted on purpose.) It only took me about half an inning tonight to remember how much I hate the Marlins.
I hate their horrible stadium, with its sacks of Soilmaster, acres of teal and football scars.
I hate their useless fans, all 2,200 of them.
I hate Cody Ross, that glistening stillborn newt.
I hate Jorge Cantu, from his beady eyes to his squashed, pocky cheeks to his knack for beating us.
I hate their interchangeable but invariably loathsome managers and closers.
And I hate Hanley Ramirez. My God, how I hate Hanley Ramirez.
I hate Hanley Ramirez for large, semi-admirable baseball reasons and I hate Hanley Ramirez for small, mean personal reasons. I hate his bouts of laziness afield. I hate his selfish refusal to play hard when his team needs him. (I'm willing to bet Dan Uggla hates him for those two things as well.) I hate that he takes the greatest interest in applying his considerable skills to playing baseball when that baseball is being played against us. I hate that the chip on his shoulder about not getting New York attention makes him better, not worse. I hate his styling. I hate his strutting. I hate his teal glove. I hate his teal shoes even more. I hate songs he likes. I hate puppies whose bellies he scratches. I hate sunshine if it's also shining on him. After Hanley Ramirez laughs, for several minutes I hate laughter.
So it's not a huge surprise that I spent a good chunk of tonight's game simmering with anger. The baseball gods had changed the casting call around somewhat from 2007 and 2008, with the Marlins trying to find their way to postseason play and the Mets given a chance to spoil things. Except one thing was staying the same: The Mets were blowing it.
Worse than that, though. The Marlins were playing hard, and the Mets were showing their bellies and whimpering.
Predictably, Hanley Ramirez was in the center of it all. He blasted a three-run homer off a suddenly mortal Tim Redding to tie the score. Seeing how he was Hanley Ramirez batting against the Mets, he posed like the model for a sculpture class, circled the bases at the approximate speed of continental drift and did a little more posing at home plate just to remind everybody what he'd done. The Mets being the Mets, they showed no sign that this bothered them in the least. And that's when I really began to fume. What, exactly, would make this dead team protest being the Marlins' bitch? What would make them say enough?
Maybe if Jorge Cantu ran out to the mound and pulled Redding's beard? Maybe if Cody Ross peed in the visiting-dugout Gatorade? Maybe if a Marlin actually hit David Wright instead of just aiming at his chin every at-bat? Would any of those things do it? As Gary, Keith and Ron danced around discussing how the 2009 Mets had quit without actually saying that forbidden word, I concluded that in fact, there was no indignity a Met would not suffer passively at Marlin fins. I wanted them to sweep the series, get help elsewhere, turn the Marlins' tragic number to zero and then celebrate on a half-visible Dolphins logo like they'd won the division. (Remember that? And the second time?) But there was no sign of it. Just grim trudging through innings, with Luis Castillo indulging in his idiot fetish for bunting and David Wright disintegrating before our eyes and Mets sitting numbly in the dugout like their bus was late.
But then, somehow, things went wrong for the other guys. Brian Schneider paid attention and snatched a run out of a Wright strikeout, which would leave David threatening Hack Wilson's RBI record if it were only a reliable strategy. And then, in the ninth, somehow, single, single, walk and a huge two-run single by Cory Sullivan.
I was pretty sure that was more Leo Nunez screwing up than the Mets showing fight, but I was sure as hell willing to take it. And in the aftermath, the camera surveyed the field, performing its usual duties of capturing reactions and replays and defensive alignments and giving me a chance to call the roll. And to drain a rather enormous reservoir of venom. It came gushing out in a display I knew was childish and unimaginative but still made me feel so, so good.
“Fuck YOU, Leo Nunez!”
“Fuck YOU, Fredi Gonzalez!”
“Fuck YOU, Wes Helms!”
“Fuck YOU, uh, John Baker!”
(C'mon, I'm not even halfway done here. New camera angles, please. Ah, there's an important one.)
“Fuck YOU, Jorge Cantu!”
(C'mon, still need more. I've got a Billy Idol sneer stuck on my face. Outfield defense, hooray!)
“Fuck YOU, Whatever Your Name Is Coghlan!”
“Fuck YOU, Cameron Maybin!”
“Fuck YOU … ummm … HOW DID I FORGET YOU? FUCK YOU, CODY ROSS!”
(That's better. Ah, and here we go back to the infield.)
“Fuck YOU, Dan Uggla, even though I kind of like you.”
(And last but certainly not least … savor it …)
“Hey. Hanley Ramirez? Fuck you too.”
The Marlins' tragic number to be eliminated from the divisional chase is two. The tragic number that would end their postseason aspirations is four. We have a tiny something to play for. It would the smallest of things, a microscopic footnote in the final chapter of an amazingly awful season. But it wouldn't be nothing. And it would make me happy, to the depths of my shriveled, bitter little heart. Whaddya say, fellas? Make me happy.
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