Lies, damn lies, and Heath Bell’s statistics

I’m like most Marlins fans, if you discount the 800-pound frame, the body hair and the occasional urge to climb a skyscraper while fondling a small (but adult) blonde chick.

I was thrilled, as were many of us, when the Marlins signed Heath Bell because it meant an end to the LeoCoaster and the predictable trauma of watching ninth-inning leads jeopardized by the performance of the very person whose job it was to shut down the other team’s offense. And boy, were we wrong!

What, me worry?

Let’s start by acknowledging the obvious: Heath Bell did not singlehandedly lose the 13-12 heartbreaker to the Brewers on July 3. Ozzie Guillen is right  about that.

Fine. He still blew it. Brother has one job: protect the lead in the final inning of the game. And he has been dreadful at it. Now, I’m not one of those people who studies statistics and can quote you WHIPs and CHAINs on every pitcher. I don’t know what WHIPs are, to this day, and I’m pretty sure I made up CHAINs, although someone should come up with a meaning for the acronym.

Here’s a statistic I know: Heath Bell threw a fastball down the middle of the plate at a guy who eats fastballs thrown down the middle of the plate for breakfast. Twice. In a row. The first time he got lucky: it was in for a strike. The second time, he got what he deserved: Ignominy. Look it up.

The team, for all its faults during that game, did right by Heath Bell. They gave him a lead to protect. Whether it was 12-11 or 1-0, it was a lead. Bell was brought to Miami precisely to protect the lead in the final inning in close games. That’s his job description. And he blew the lead. Not the game. Lots of people blew the game. But Heath Bell blew the lead and the save. And from that blunder, the team could not recover because it was over.

Now, if this were an anomaly, I could shrug it off as a fan. But it’s not. The guy’s got a 6.19 ERA (after a redeeming performance on July 4 that still saw a runner in scoring position before the final out was recorded). That is the highest of his career. Put this in perspective: Heath Bell is having the WORST season of his career. His ERA last year was 2.44. That’s not bad. He was an All Star. Even a modest increase in his ERA would be acceptable compared to what we’ve gotten.

Let’s compare it to Leo Nunez (the Liar Currently Known As Juan Carlos Oviedo), whose ERA last season was 4.06. Fans (myself included) raked him over the coals for it, and rightly so. His job was to close games, and he was failing at his job.

After Tuesday’s letdown, professional sports reporters and columnists, for some reason I cannot fathom, started spouting the irrelevant statistic of the day: Heath Bell had successfully converted his last 14 save opportunities. It’s an impressive statistic (a.k.a. “fact”) that is only accurate because it ignores other, larger facts. Namely, Heath Bell blew a four-run lead on June 26 against the Cardinals. It’s only a technicality that this does not count as a blown save.

It’s not a blown save because a four-run lead is not considered a save opportunity for a relief pitcher/closer. Get it? Let me make it clearer: if he had blown a two-run lead, it would have been a blown save. But it was a four-run lead, so it didn’t count.

A little more clarity: What Heath Bell did in that Cardinals game was WORSE than a blown save.

So spare us the 14-in-a-row statistic. It’s meaningless. It’s like reminding people that Jeffrey Dahmer met thousands and thousands of people that he did not eat. Unfair? OK, here’s something more fair: it’s like praising Gaby Sanchez’ performance in the July 4 game but forgetting that it LIFTED his batting average to .190. I love Gaby Sanchez. I’m gonna miss him. But we need better than a .190 batting average from a first baseman who just last year was an All Star.

And we need more reliability from a closer who also was an All Star last year.

The day after his blown save, Heath Bell got back on the mound and shut me up. Well-deserved kudos, Ice Cream Man. Keep it up. Please. Couldja? Thanks.

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Fun times at #MarlinsSocial

You saw it here first. The exclusive photo that will rock Marlins fandom forever. For the first time in one place, left to right: @BoobiesNStanton, @LoMoDimples and @FakeMarlinsFan. This photo was taken by the future Mrs. BoobiesNStanton and authenticated by @AllisonW_Sports herself.


Had a great time at the Marlins Ballpark with this gang and many others, including the @FSFlorida_Girls, who, although they are not Bonobos, are nonetheless mildly attractive.

Gotta thank the Marlins for recognizing the fun of social media and rewarding fans for sticking by the team through good times and bad. The food was really good, too. No Spam, unfortunately, but they had a lobster sandwich with real lobster in it, a shrimp sandwich with real shrimp in it, and an Asian burger with… let’s just say I did not ask for the ingredients on that one.

There was a game going on, too. GiancarloCruzMikeStanton homered to give fans a shred of hope after giving up five runs in the first inning to the Cardinals. @BoobiesNStanton cheered when the ball went over the fence and the Thing went off. So did the home run sculpture. Remind me not to stand near @BoobiesNStanton when Stanton homers next time.

Allison interviewed @FakeMarlinsFan and me on the air. Asked us both how to stop the slump. I said eat plenty of Spam and do the Jungle Love dance (a.k.a. “The Bird”) from Morris Day and the Time. I swear, when I said Jungle Love, Allison must have thought I was talking interracial romance. Then she realized it was a dance.

@FakeMarlinsFan shocked everyone by offering to sleep with John Buck to break the slump. Come to think of it, he did go missing for a few minutes after that. Coincidence, I’m sure.

Quick thanks to @abuznego, the Marlins social media guru, for putting the festivities together. The ballpark looks and is great, the team is really trying, and the crowd is both showing up and responding: Marlins have a hometown crowd at last!


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Swifting starts to catch on

I’m still waiting for some more, but the first two #Swifting pics have come in.

Reminder of how it works: Take a picture of yourself in a random setting looking utterly surprised that you have just won a major award. See the previous posts on this blog for details. Post your picture to Twitter with the hashtag #Swifting.






Oh my God, I won?

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Let’s start a new trend: #Swifting

In honor of my last post, let’s start a new trend. We can call it “Swifting.” Take a picture of yourself in a random setting looking like you’re Taylor Swift and your name just got called as the winner of an award. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Here’s mine:

Oh My God, I won? What!? Are you kidding me?

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Would it shock you if Taylor Swift won a #Grammy?

I know this is a little outside my usual sports-related stuff, but…
Wouldn’t it have been great if Taylor Swift got married to Taylor Lautner so they could both be named Taylor Lautner? OK, whatever.
Oh my God, I won?
Here’s the deal: Taylor Swift needs to stop being so flipping shocked when she wins an award. She’s up for best country album and, while she’s not a sure thing, she’s always got a good chance.
Have you ever seen Taylor Swift win an award? She looks like she’s auditioning for a role in a porno. Aaaaaaaah.
Really, woman, you’ve won before. Stop acting so surprised. It’s not humility anymore. It’s embarrassing.
I’m not trying to pick on you. Honest. You win awards because you’re good and you deserve to win awards. You should be proud of that. But the Oh My GOD schtick has gotten out of hand.
Up next, my thoughts on football players Swifting when they make a tackle or get into the end zone.
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This is why I’m #TeamHanley. And #TeamLomo, #TeamReyes and #TeamMiamiHeath

Hanley Ramirez responds, in Spanish, to his Twitter critics. Rough translation: “Sorry I haven’t responded. Been busy writing your names on this bat. The answer is on its way.”

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Here I am, #LoMoing

Here I am, #LoMoing

Thank you @TealMonster for your artful photography. I do hope you deleted the ones where the Bonobos helped me take the blue thong off. As much fun as it was, I don’t need proof of that stuff floating around on the Internet.

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