This is going to be more of a personal list rather than a "best moments" in the history of Sun Life Stadium (1993-2011) a.k.a. Land Shark Stadium (2009), a.k.a. Dolphin Stadium (2006–2009), a.k.a. Dolphins Stadium (2005–2006), a.k.a. Pro Player Stadium (1996–2005), a.k.a. Pro Player Park (1996), a.k.a. Joe Robbie Stadium (1993–1996). I was already scolded for not including the Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez play at the plate with J.T. Snow in the '03 NLDS and his "I HAVE THE BALL!"-reaction...Or Andres "The Big Cat" Galarraga's "500ft" HR. Feel free to add your own favorite moments in the comments section...
1. "He rips one! See...you...later...!": MASN's Bob Carpenter's called Ryan Zimmerman's 25th HR of the year in an August 30, 2010 game against the Washington Nationals' NL East rivals, the Florida Marlins. Zimmerman destroyed a changeup from Fish right-hander Alex Sanabia. The Face of the Nats' Franchise crushed it, sending a towering shot out to left that disappeared from view for a second and bounced off the face of upper deck scoreboard, noticeably breaking the lights in the "m" in what was now a "Sun Life Stadiu_" sign high above the left field wall...
The Florida Marlins' announcer was no less impressed. "That ball is crushed... deep... Oh my goodness it knocks out a bank of lights up there, like "The Natural.'". The Nats' third baseman's three-run HR put the Nats up 4-1 over the Fish in what ended up a 9-3 Nationals' victory. The left field wall in the Marlins' home park is 385ft from home plate in straight left. Zim's 25th HR of the year didn't stop until it collided with the sign, the Marlins' announcer's guessed that the ball had probably traveled 450ft. See for yourself...
• Watch it one more time HERE.
2. Nyjer Morgan, Chris Volstad And Gaby Sanchez's Stiff Clothesline:
Top of the fourth inning, the Florida Marlins are up 14-3 early over the visiting Washington Nationals in a late-season matchup of perennial NL East cellar dwellers. Fish starter Chris Volstad, who struck Nationals' outfielder Nyjer Morgan out in their first matchup of the game, drills Morgan in the numbers the second time he steps up in retaliation for a play at the plate the previous night in which Morgan had run catcher Brett Hayes. Morgan did nothing wrong on this particular play. Hayes was injured, and the collision came just days after another controversial play involving Morgan and a catcher on the Cardinals.
Nyjer Morgan took first, then stole second, taking out a Marlins' infielder with a hard slide. Then Morgan stole third, easily. Ian Desmond, who was at the plate as Morgan advanced himself, finally popped out to short center and Marlins' second baseman Donnie Murphy injured himself, landing on his wrist as he tumbled while making a catch. Two Marlins in two days had now likely had their seasons ended on plays involving Morgan, whether directly, in Hayes' case, or tangentially, as in Murphy's. The Florida Marlins were not happy.
Cut to the Nationals' sixth. Nats' outfield Justin Maxwell starts the frame with a double down the third base line off Volstad, leaving first base open for the next batter, Nyjer Morgan. Volstad throws at him again. This time he sends a fastball sailing by Morgan's back. Oh, it's on.
Nyjer Morgan charges the mound, and leaps, a six-foot-nothing Morgan throws a left cross at the 6'8'' Volstad's head and lands one, but Marlins' first baseman Gaby Sanchez decks Morgan with a flying clothesline that would make Stan Hansen proud, knocking Morgan clean off his feet. Now Volstad pounces. Then-Nationals' third base coach Pat Listach jumps in to protect Morgan.
Benches clear. Brawl. Nyjer Morgan gets pummeled. The skippers square off with then-Nats' manager Jim Riggleman waving an accusing finger in Marlins' Skipper Edwin Rodriguez's face. The two men have to be separated by their players and get close enough it appears they may come to blows.
Morgan's pulled out of the scrum. Morgan starts in on the fans. A furious crowd responds. Morgan's pounding his chest. Morgan's lost it. He's led off the field. Riggleman and Rodriguez aren't done talking. No one is hurt. Days later fines and suspensions are handed out.
1. October 12, 1997 The Day I Met The Future Mr. National: This game is legendary, more for the egregious/generous nature of home plate umpire Eric Gregg's strike zone. It's also the first time I really watched Livan Hernandez pitch. Years later he'd become a Montreal Expo, and later a Washington National. But back in 1997, in his first full season in the majors, a 22-year-old Livan Hernandez was a Florida Marlin and he was a 12th hour starter in an October 12th 1997 NLCS game against the Atlanta Braves, Hernandez took advantage of the strike zone that day to throw a 15-K complete game three hitter, beating Atlanta and Greg Maddux in what was at that point Hernandez's 20th major league start.
While Gregg's strike zone was the big story with everyone who watched the game criticizing the umpire's judgement, what impressed me was Hernandez's poise, his ability to exploit the situation and the fact that the Cuban-born right-hander threw 143 pitches. That is not a typo. 143 pitches. In an article at the time by New York Daily News writer Thomas Hill which is humorously entitled, "Marlins Are Livan Large Rook Ks 15 To Outduel Maddux", then-Marlins' Skipper Jim Leyland's quoted explaining the high pitch count by saying that he'd, "... never considered removing him. 'Basically, there were 50,000 people here," Leyland said. "And I didn't want to get snipered.'" The actual attendance was 51,982.
The joy you see on Livan Hernandez's face when he gets a called strike three on left-handed slugger Fred McGriff to end the game instantly endeared the right-hander to every non-Braves fan watching the game. The fact that it was so far off the plate that Marlins' catcher Charles Johnson seemed to catch it in the right-handed batter's box didn't matter. Livan Hernandez was a star. You can Watch It HERE.
(ed. note - "Seriously, how was that pitch to McGriff called a strike. Oh and btw: eMb.")