Marlins closer Leo Nunez will never be mistaken for Trevor Hoffman. But since taking over the closer position from god-awful Matt Lindstrom in July, he has done a pretty adequate job, saving 22 games. More important, the man knows how to piss off his opponent.
This past Wednesday, the Marlins were in St. Louis trying desperately to stay in the playoff hunt. Nunez was called in to the game with two on and one out in the ninth inning, to preserve a 5-1 game. He proceeded to bean Ryan Ludwick and then Albert Pujols, forcing in a run and loading the bases. But then Nunez coaxed a double play out of Matt Holliday, ending the game. That was when he triumphantly unveiled what the Palm Beach Post described as an "exuberant, windmill-motion fist pump before thrusting his arms to the sky."
In St. Louis, they're still fuming about that and are somehow calling the fist pump a "dance" -- as if Nunez suddenly started doing the worm on the mound. Notice the editorial slant that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes in describing the scene -- along with quotes from bitter Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin:
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Then, Nunez got Matt Holliday to ground into a game-ending double play and began dancing, to the boos of the Busch Stadium crowd. Franklin wasn't too amused, either.
"I didn't care for the celebration -- the way he went crazy out there," Franklin said. "Big-league pitchers can't be drillin' people like that in the ninth inning and then doing some kind of dance after the game.
"Get the last out, go give your catcher five, and go in and have a drink or something.
"You don't see too many guys who have been around do that type of thing. A fist pump is all right, but you don't need to dance around and twirl in circles and stuff like that. It's your job. Do your job and go on."
Whoa. These guys do realize that Anheuser-Busch is now a Belgian beer, right? What does St. Louis have to be so self-righteous about? The only tragedy is that Florida doesn't face the Cardinals again this regular season, so the Marlins will have to wait until next season to aim a fastball at Franklin's ass -- or, because he doesn't bat much, that of some hapless position player in his stead.
Or even better, maybe the Marlins could pull off a miraculous run to the Wild Card and plunk a Cardinal in the National Leage Championship Series. A revenge beaning in the playoffs -- that would really tick off those propaganda ministers over at the Post-Dispatch.