The Florida Marlins seem to be in the news a lot this year.  Earlier in the year, All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez was benched after showing lack of hustle on a play.  Ramirez accidentally kicked a ball while fielded it, then allowed two runs to score as he ambled after the ball.  Ramirez then lashed out at manager Fredi Gonzalez, as if Ramirez was the victim.  After Roy Halladay’s pefect game, the Marlins announced that they would be selling unused tickets to the game (and there were many of them, as is the case with all Marlins home game) at face value – effectively killing the value of the tickets that had been purchased by die-hard fans who actually attended the game.

On Wednesday, the Fish fired manager Fredi Gonzalez in spite of the fact that the Marlins were actually still in contention – in spite of the ongoing efforts of ownership to trade good players whenever they get to the point of earning a large salary.  It’s not the first time that the Marlins have axed a manager who was producing solid on-field results.  In 2006, the Marlins had a payroll of just $14 million – lower than the salaries of several players, and 1/5 the payroll of most team.  Nonethleless, first time manager Joe Girardi led the team to a 78-84 record and kept them in contention for a playoff spot late into the season.  This was substantially better than anyone would have expected prior to the season, and Girardi was named National League Manager of the year.  By the time the award arrived on his doorstep, he had been fired.  Things worked out OK for Girardi, though.  He’s now the manager of the Yankees.

What got me riled up the most, however, was the news that the Marlins were bribing their fans to cast All-Star votes for the Marlins.  If you case 200 all-Marlin ballots, you get two free tickets to a Marlins game.  If you cast the most ballots, you get access to a suite at a Marlins game.  The Marlins say that other teams also make a push to have fans vote for their player, but Florida is much more aggressive than other teams.  I don’t even like the fact that people can easily vote 25 times online because of how it dilutes fan voting.  Having a team actively encourage ballot box stuffing makes me sick.  I wish Major League Baseball would step up and protect the integrity of the game.  If teams engage is this sort of activity, ban their players from the All-Star game for a year.  Maybe that would put sportsmanship back into the equation.

Maybe this would be a good time to start discussion contraction again?

 

THE RESIN BAG

Two of the most dominant pitchers in baseball toed the rubber on Wednesday night.  Stephen Strasburg face another cupcake team when he took the mound  against the Royals (having faced the woeful Pirates and Indians and the mediocre White Sox in his first three games).  Strasburg struck out nine and walked none, but did allow nine hits (all singles) in six innings of work, allowing just one run.  However, Brian Bannister of the Royals combined with the bullpen for a shutout, giving the Roayls a 1-0 win.

Ubaldo Jimenez was in search of his 14th win when he faced the Red Sox.  Jimenez was rocking and rolling early in the game, but ran into trouble in the sixth inning.  A flare down the right field line by Marco Scutaro put the Sox ahead 6-5 and sent Jimenez to the showers (actually, to the bench, where he watched the rest of the game).  It was by far the worst game of the year, statistically.  In spite of that, my friend Lazy Man at Lazy Man and Money came away impressed with Jimenez.  The Rockies took Jimenez off the hook by rallying against Papelbon in the ninth.  Homers by Ian “Stewie” Stewart and Jason “Jason” Giambi sent Colorado fans home happy with an 8-6 win.  The Rockies go for the sweep tonight when they send Jason Hammel to the mound to face off against Daisuke Matsuzaka.

I’m not much of a soccer fan, but I was following the ESPN Gamecast of the USA game against Algeria yesterday.  I had discussed various scenarios with occasional contributor Fulton Christopher, and when England went up 1-0 against Slovenia, we knew that the US was going to need a win to advance.  A surge of pride went through me when the news of Landon Donovan’s late goal splashed across the screen.

Across the pond at Wimbledon, news of Roger Federer’s near defeat at the hands of Allejando Falla in the first round was the buzz on the first day of the tournament  .  Down two sets, Federer rallied to beat the Colombian in five sets.  The tournament’s top seed struggled again in the second round, with Serbian Ilija Bozoljac taking R-Feds to four sets. 

On Wednesday, the big news was the match between American John Isner and Nicolas Mahut of France.  The match actually began on Tuesday.  It was suspended because of darkness and was resumed on Wednesday.  They played the entire day on Wednesday before the match was once again suspended because of darkness.  At the end of the day, they were tied 59-59 in the fifth set.  For those who don’t follow tennis, you typically play to 6.  The match is demolishing many records, and the length is unfathomable to everyone.  Matches simply don’t last this long, ever.

It will be interesting to see how the winner fares in the next round.  Conventional wisdom would be that they’ll be easy prey for an opponent – but only time will tell.  Both players are also playing doubles, and will play their first round doubles matches shortly after their singles match is completely – assuming that it doesn’t continue until the end of time.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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