Thoughts on Miami’s Opening Day Loss- Cheer up fans, but also take heed.
Originally posted on Miami Marlins Minute:
Marlins Fall 2-1 To Braves in Flummoxing Loss
Opening Day- second only to our most hallowed and cherished SuperBowl Sunday in terms unofficial holidays in this great land. A day when patriotism and optimism abounds, and sweet memories of past glories mix up with future dreams of even further heights of greatness. Everyone could be a winner, nothing is written. A few weeks from now, the country will settle into their standard routine, whether that includes just watching their own team occasionally checking box scores on their phone, or perhaps even ignoring baseball entirely. But yesterday, and really even for the entire week, people will find any game, any at bat engaging captivating. Baseball is truly back.
For the Marlins, sadly it could not be a win, as they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Braves in a manner that could only be described as flummoxing. Well, I’m sure there…
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Took a couple days off there- not much time left to do so before baseball season kicks off. Here’s a look at the last couple days in the 305.
- The Miami Dolphins extended by a year the contract of head coach Joe Philbin- without doing so, he would only be under contract to coach the team for this coming season. Now with a new deal in hand…he’s honestly still just under contract to coach this season; it’s playoffs or bust for Joe.
- The Miami Heat got sufficiently bulldozed by the Oklahoma Thunder Sunday night, 93-75. They still sit in 7th place however, just a game and a half back of the Milwaukee Bucks for 6th, and just two games ahead of the Celtics in 9th. Those same teams would just happen to be the Heat’s next two opponents.
- The Florida Panthers beat Boston 2-1 in a shootout Saturday night, gaining some critical ground in a tight race for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Cats now sit 4 points back of Boston, and 3 of Ottawa.
- The Marlins officially signed Christian Yelich to his 7-year deal Sunday, with a club option for an 8th. On the field, they have dropped three spring games in a row, but even this afternoon’s 13-2 clobbering by the Mets can’t dull the optimism the Yelich move should bring.
- The Marlins also were the subject of some idle trade speculation this weekend as a possible solution to the Texas Rangers’ rotation issues (Brad Hand being the player discussed) but that seems to have fizzled out.
- Today in Sports: Planetary alignment seems to favor the people of Louisville, KY this day of the calendar year. This date saw Muhammad Ali reclaim his title in 1975 with a knockout of Chuck Wepner, and five years later, the Louisville Cardinals would beat UCLA for the NCAA men’s title.
- Today in the 305: In the spirit of March Madness, thought we’d give FGCU a shout out. It was two years ago today that they became the first 15 seed to make the Sweet 16.
Early Schedule Demands Spring Out of Spring
By Sean Millerick
With only 15 games remaining until the start of the 2015 season, and with bracket selections and fantasy drafts now behind me, the time seems right to size up the schedule awaiting the Miami Marlins when they break camp. And that schedule, suffice it to say, should give every friend of the Fish considerable pause. Some would argue the season doesn’t really start until the summer, with April numbers often being all but dismissed. Others rejoin that every game counts, while both sides tout out the timeless cliché that the season is a marathon, and not a sprint to make their case. But if this year’s squad wants to meet any of their well-deserved expectations, the schedule makers might well have denied them the luxury of an early stumble out of the gates.
It’s not that it’s an exceptionally difficult start to the year. The Marlins don’t play a team expected to finish above .500 in their first nine games, in fact taking on an April slate with a 12-10 split in favor of teams projected to finish far worse than them in the standings. The wrinkle is who those opponents are, as they would be almost exclusively division rivals. The split between NL East and not sits at a stunning 19-3, the exception being a three game set against the Rays (who ironically enough for you geography fans are also an Eastern division team). Every team in the division is faced, with a breakdown of Mets 7, Braves 6, Phillies and Nationals 3. The first seven games of May are no different by the way, resulting in a stretch of twenty-two consecutive games against the division following that Tampa series. That’s a 25-3 mark to start the year, meaning that the Marlins will have played nearly 33% of their total division slate for the season by the time they’ve completed barely 17% of the schedule overall. If the Marlins truly mean to challenge the Nats for the NL East crown, a strong April is a must.
That is particularly the case given what awaits the club in May. Including that first week, May holds 13 intra-division matchups, once more providing a taste of all four NL East teams. What May also adds however is a schedule weighted 19-10 towards teams projected to finish over .500. More to the point, all but three of those .500 plus matchups are against teams that made the playoffs last year. In fact, out of the season’s first fifty-one games, only ten are against teams that aren’t either a division rival or expected to be a fellow NL wild card challenger. And of the ten, three are against the Orioles- a contender for a Junior Circuit wild-card berth, if not the AL East itself. The final seven would be the aforementioned Rays and the lowly Diamondbacks- all seven of which will be played at Marlins Park. The overall home-away split for all of this excitement is 25-26, with a doozy of 10 game Nats-Giants-Dodgers road trip tucked within it.
So there it is- quite the opener to the season. Some variety will follow though. The Marlins will close May exactly the same way they’ll close April- against the Mets. Following that series, they next play an NL East opponent….on July 17th , after the All-Star break. By that point they will also have completed their season series against the Dodgers, Giants, and Cubs by the way- meaning that the best chance to gain an upper-hand in the post season race would definitely be on the front nine. Again, one could object that a lot could happen in 162 games. In fact, on first glance, a fairly obvious example of a slow start not mattering comes from our own history- just look to 2003. That team- the one that played well enough to get their manager fired at the 16-22 point, and dropped as low as 19-29 before truly righting the ship-played 20 straight games against their division in April, and would eventually go on to win the World Series. But that club was just a tick under .500 in April, and actually reached it May 1st before going on a cheery 4-14 slide. So they at least didn’t blow April(9-11 against the East), and didn’t face the Braves or Phillies again until the last day of June, by which point they’d rounded into form. A lot of similarities have been thrown around between that ’03 squad and this ’15 model. It would be in this year’s squad’s best interest not to make an early hole one of them. There’s a reason 2003 was remarkable after all.
Admittedly going through the motions here folks, as I am in crunch mode for my fantasy draft. But a few tidbits to report for you from this Friday.
- The Heat won their third in a row Friday night, topping the Nuggets 108-91. The Heat now actually sit just 1.5 games out of sixth place, not bad for a team that was flirting with missing the playoffs entirely not that long ago.
- The Miami Marlins notched a Spring Training win against the Braves 5-1, with Martin Prado delivering a key hit and Dan Haren scattering a run and four hits across five innings.
- The Miami Dolphins resigned Matt Moore and Louis Delmas- moves that should by no means be sneezed at. No word as of yet on Michael Crabtree’s decision.
- Today in Sports: In 1934, Babe Didrickson pitched a hitless inning for the A’s against the Dodgers in an exhibition game.
- Today in the 305: Happy Birthday Pat Riley. Really all that needs to be said.
Alright, alright, alright sports fans- let’s get to it:
- The Buffalo Bills officially signed Charles Clay this afternoon, the Dolphins opting to let him walk rather than resign him. Long term, likely the right move. For 2015, it would seem the team made a mistake in not using the franchise tag- the difference in salary was only a million dollars. You’ll be happy Clay is gone in 2016- but likely not before that.
- Jaromir Jagr moved into 5th place all time in goals scored, as the future Hall of Famer and a finally-back-on-the-ice Roberto Luongo led the Panthers to a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Florida now sits 3pts back of Ottawa and 5pts behind Boston in the race for the 8th and final playoff slot with just 11 games left to play. Every game counts for a team that has only won three in a row four times in the last three seasons, but on the bright side, Florida has three games left against Boston and one against Ottawa. Boston lost tonight- to Ottawa- and plays the Panthers Saturday.
- The Marlins lost 6-3 today to the Braves in the first of a two game series that is actually being televised. Tom Koehler allowed six hits and three runs in four innings, which is not terrible for a spring start by any means. What might be terrible for Koehler is that one of his chief competitors for the final spot in the rotation- David Phelps- was not charged with a run during the next three innings. Then again, they both balked, so both might want to put the day behind them.
- Iowa State lost their NCAA tournament opener- this matters because it means my top competition in my bracket pool just totally blew it. Then again I had Iowa State and Ole Miss making it to the Sweet 16, so not exactly in first place after day one either.
- Today in Sports: On March 19th, 2014, Cal Poly became the first team in over 50 years to win an NCAA tournament game despite having 19 losses on the season. Not particularly famous, but still funny.
- Today in the 305: On March 19th, 2008- and I’m gritting my teeth here- the Heat put up 54 points in a loss to the Toronto Raptors, which was the third lowest score since the invention of the shot-clock. That would also be the franchise low for points overall, points in the first half, and shooting percentage. ‘Course the Heat have gone 18-6 against the Raptors since then, so rest assured that account has been settled.
Happy Post St. Paddy’s to all you loyal readers. If you were celebrating properly, you likely missed at least a few things in the last 24 hours. So without further ado:
- The Marlins had their first two game losing streak of the spring, getting the blemish out of the way in just one day, dropping a pair of split squad decisions 7-1 and 6-4 to the Cards and Mets respectively.
- Rallying from that, the Marlins beat Washington 5-4 today on the strength of Giancarlo Stanton’s first home run of the spring- and more significantly, since last year’s shattering season ending injury.
- The Miami Heat followed up on Monday’s feel good shellacking of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’s Cavaliers with a 108-104 squeaker over the Trailblazers on the strength of a pair of double-doubles by Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. And oh yea, Dwayne Wade put up 30 points- doing so in consecutive games for the first time in nearly three years.
- CRABTREE!!!!!! The soothing tones of Richard Sherman spring to mind as reports indicate that Michael Crabtree will be paying a visit to the Dolphins.
- On the bright side, the Panthers might get star goalie Roberto Luongo back for Thursday’s game against the Red Wings. On the down side, they remain trapped in ninth place after failing to record a point in consecutive games.
- Lastly, the Marlins have apparently agreed on a 7yr/49.5 million dollar contract with Gold Glover Christian Yelich.
- This Day in Sports: On March 18th, 2001, Reggie Miller hit his 2000th 3-pointer. He was the first ever to hit that mark.
- This Day In the 305: On March 18th, 2013, the Miami Heat notched their 23rd win in a row, breaking a tie with the Houston Rockets for the second longest winning streak in NBA history.