Baseball Offers Real-Time TV Drama
That No Amount of Money Can Buy
Say it ain’t so!
Advertisers invest millions every year to develop 3-minute television spots that America will watch and buy the products featured in them.
On Wednesday night, baseball gave television the greatest free 3-minute spot it will ever get for split-screen.
Robert Andino’s base hit in the bottom of the ninth off of Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon scored pinch-runner Kyle Hudson with the winning run as the Orioles won 4-3 with a two-run rally.
Three minutes later, in St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria ripped a fastball off New York’s Scott Proctor over the lower left-field fence for a 12th inning home run giving the Rays an 8-7 win over the Yankees and the wild card spot in the American League playoffs.
The Rays overcame an 7-0 Yankee lead and tied the game on a pinch-hit, two-out, two-strike homer by Dan Johnson in the ninth inning after scoring six runs in the eighth, three on Longoria’s first homer.
It was just the third time since 1953 that the Yankees have blown a seven-run lead in the 8th inning or later.
The late inning drama in Baltimore and Tampa Bay completed one baseball’s biggest September collapse as the Red Sox gave up a nine-game lead over the Rays winning only seven of 27 games.
Folks, this was real-time drama. Baseball hasn’t had a closing day of the regular season like it, and the American League wasn’t the only player.
Philadelphia beat Atlanta, 4-3, and St. Louis beat Houston, 8-0 in the National League.
It wasn’t as dramatic as the American League, but the results completed an 8 ½ game September collapse by the Braves as they lost the wild card spot in the NL playoffs to the Cardinals.
If you didn’t see this happen, you wouldn’t believe it. Simply put, it was beyond belief, and all of it was available for viewing as it developed.
No season debut by any television drama, comedy or reality show, network or otherwise, will match it.
For the Red Sox and Braves, it’s a simple case of say it ain’t so. For the Rays and Cardinals, it is on to the playoff beginning Friday.
If you had bet you life on it on Sept. 1, you’d be dead right now.
Retractable Roof Stadium Gives Marlins Stability
But They Wouldn’t Exist Without Outdoor Venue
The Florida Marlins played their final game in Joe Robbie Stadium, alias Sun Life Stadium, on Wednesday and lost to Washington, 3-1.
The team will get a new name, Miami Marlins, and a retractable roof stadium on the site on the old Orange Bowl Stadium, blocks from downtown Miami, next season.
In 19 years at the outdoor stadium, built more for football than baseball, the Marlins won the World Series twice, in 1997 and 2003, giving them more world championships than a franchise like the Chicago Cubs, with more tradition, has in the last 100 years.
Without the outdoor stadium, it doesn’t happen. Crowds have been head counted at 347, and there have been World Series crowds because of the stadium size approaching 70,000.
What the football stadium couldn’t provide was the coziness of the new venue. It also had no answer for the South Florida heat and the numerous games affected by rain delays. I once covered a game that began at 1 p.m. and ended after 12 a.m. because of rain delays.
The retractable roof will provide a stable environment for fans and make baseball a more desirable attraction. Games will begin on time, usually 7 p.m., and end somewhere around 10-10:30, barring extra innings. The roof takes care of the rain and the heat and makes the surroundings comfortable.
I always thought the roof was crucial to baseball being a consistent success in South Florida, but the new venue has a ways to go to match the history of the outdoor stadium.
Edgar Reneteria’s 11th inning single against Cleveland scoring Craig Counsell with the winning run in the 1997 World Series will be difficult to match.
There is also a young Josh Beckett closing out the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the 2003 World Series. It came after a homer by shortstop Alex Gonzalez evened the series at 2-2.
The individual accomplishments have also been there like the no hitters of Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, A. J. Burnett and Anibal Sanchez. Jeff Conine was the MVP of the 1995 All-Star Game after his game-winning homer.
Since the beginning, baseball faithful haven’t wanted the outdoor stadium. They don’t have it anymore, but no one should forget that without it, baseball would have never come to South Florida.
Dolphins Record, Number of Touchdowns Tied
Together; Five TDs in Three Games Not Enough
The Dolphins 0-3 start is somewhat misleading. They lost to New England and Houston, two playoff teams, and it is a level that the Dolphins have reached yet.
Certainly, the Dolphins had chances in both games, but until they score more touchdowns on red zone visits, they will have a tough time improving their victory total. Field goals simply won’t get it done.
Consider the following NFL numbers. The Dolphins are No. 12 in total offense (387.7 yards per game), No. 14 in passing (258 yards per game) and No. 7 in rushing (127.7 yards per game).
Yet, the team is only No 27 in scoring (17.7 points per game), and it is not enough. The Dolphins have five touchdowns in three games and 13 visits to the red zone of opponents (38.5 percent conversion rate).
They only had 18 touchdowns in 29 visits last season (52.9 percent conversion rate) and No. 30 in the league.
“It’s all about execution,” quarterback Chad Henne said. “If it’s there, take it. We got to be aggressive down there and make plays. If it’s not [there], it’s not much we can do. We can run the ball, throw the ball, we just got to go down there, be confident in ourselves, and make the plays.”
Last week’s 17-16 loss to Cleveland is the only of the three that troubles me.
It was tough to understand why the offense felt compelled to run four pass plays in 20 seconds when it was easily within 20 yards of field goal range with 43 seconds left. The Dolphins had possession at Cleveland’s 47.
Red-zone touchdowns have to be a focus of Coach Tony Sparano and his offensive staff heading to San Diego.
Inclusion of tight end Anthony Fasano would be one option, and more red-zone passes and less runs might make a difference. While rookie running back Daniel Thomas is making progress, he has yet to prove that he can make the tough yards at the goal line.
Much conversation has circled around the job security of Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland. In-season changes of coaches, staff and general managers seldom bring results.
Touchdowns would help the Dolphins more than a new coach or general manager.