High-flying Fish in the Sunshine State

Thursday, August 13, 2009–Marlins 9, Astros 2

Nobody in our family ever really had much desire to go to Florida. What with the Jews for Buchanan phenomenon, the humidity and the fact that my parents are both biased towards the west coast. I knew I’d have to get out to the Sunshine state eventually, but there was no strong impetus until some of our family friends moved to the Orlando area. Dad and I went to visit them in August of ’09, and we turned it into a great circle tour of southern Florida, going down the east coast, through the Everglades and then back up the gulf coast before coming back to Orlando and heading back home.

Part of this trip included a visit to Kennedy Space Center. We went the day after going to Epcot, and I discovered–much to my chagrin–that much of the KSC visitor’s areas were also managed more as theme park than museum, with many of the same “crowd management” techniques Disney uses, executed with much poorer efficiency. However, unlike in Houston, we found that there were–off to the side–a number of quiet rooms with what were really the most fascinating exhibits. But, still, having lunch in the shadow of a Saturn V booster with an astronomical number of brats running around wasn’t all that much fun.

The day we went to the game began in Palm Beach, where we had great fun looking at the gardening. I don’t know if it’s a restrictive covenance or just local convention, but it seems like not a single plant is allowed to assume its natural shape. A line of trees along the road were green cubes sitting on top of arrow-straight trunks. It reminded me of a variety of cubical suckers a certain candy manufacturer sells that I particularly enjoyed at the time. We got out of the car and walked around the public fountain. It was nice to see that in this land of über-wealth, the water was just as green as it was at the hotel we stayed at in North Palm Beach (where I suspect a number of the Palm Beach landscapers commute from).

We didn’t spend very much time in Miami proper, we went over the causeway to Miami Beach and decided that it was New York City with palm trees, and none of the courtesy on the road. I do not intend that last statement as a complement to NYC. We hightailed it out of there and made our way to the Ballpark.

Until I had actually been to the Miami area, I’d been rather harsh on Marlins fans for not turning out in greater numbers for a team that has enjoyed better-than-could-be-expected success. That came to a screeching halt when I went to south Florida. That ballpark is 20 miles from the core of Miami and is almost comically unsuited for baseball. An enthusiastic crowd of 15,000 (almost respectable considering the distance, the lackluster opposition and the fact that it was a Thursday night game) got completely swallowed up by the 45,000 empty seats around them.

Again, I’m vamping because there wasn’t much to note about the game. Jorge Cantú hit a gargantuan two run homer in the first, the Astros made a bid to tie it in the 4th but came up a run short, and the fish batted around in the 6th to put the game away. If there were any moments of high drama or great tension, I’m afraid to say it’s faded into the ether–I guess the double that put the Astros’ potential go-ahead run in scoring position in the 4th was just too early in the game to stand out. Mike Hampton got pegged with the loss because he left trailing a close game, but he did everything he could, going 2 for 2 with an RBI and leaving his team in position to come back, but the bullpen blew up behind him.

I see a number of exclamation points on the scorecard, but I’m sorry to say that I don’t really remember these plays. Whether it’s because I was being more generous with the marks than usual and giving them on plays that were good but not outstanding, or if it is a case of forgetting truly spectacular plays because the game wasn’t very exciting, I couldn’t say.

Here’s the scorecard.