Like the amazing dinner you had on the last night of an otherwise disastrous vacation, the night of surprisingly tender lovemaking just weeks before you both decide divorce is inevitable or that one good song toward the end of your favorite band's undeniably disappointing new album, Marlins pitcher's Henderson Álvarez no-hitter last night on the Fish's last game of the season was one of those sweet experiences after a long haul of discontent that only serves to make everything that came before it more depressing in contrast.
Álvarez's feat was just the 239th no hitter in the modern era, the third this season and only the sixth in Marlins history. It was also only the fourth season-ending no-no, and the first since 1985. (Let's not let the fact that their opponents, the Detroit Tigers, had their playoff slot settled before this series and were resting four starters, including batting champ Miguel Cabrera, dampen the achievement. It's still pretty damn rare).
Of course this was the Marlins, and they did manage to take some of the excitement out of it. Álvarez erased any hope at a perfect game in the first inning by hitting Prince Fielder with a ball, allowing him to walk to first base.
And while Álvarez was carrying out his career milestone, the Marlins bats remained scoreless during the first 8 innings. Because the team was batting at the bottom of innings, Álvarez's no-hitter was in question until the team finally scored in the 9th. Meaning, unlike most pitchers who toss a no-hitter, Álvarez couldn't start celebrating right after he got off the mound.
And yet when the celebrating finally came -- following a wild pitch by Detroit in the bottom of the ninth -- it came big.
And, you know what? It's actually great to see these players have something to celebrate. They've just played perhaps one of the most thankless season in professional sports history. It's not necessarily their fault that Jeffrey Loria is the guy signing their pay check. Thanks to their owner, a vast majority of this town is (rightfully) either ambivalent or outright hostile to the team. They've played to an empty stadium through most of the season. They never had any chance at the playoffs. Their manager is unproven. Even though the Houston Astros actually managed to have a somewhat crappier season, the Marlins still somehow managed to be the joke of the league.
This is a team whose morale was skewered this week by The Onion in an article entitled, "Manager Inspires Marlins With Clubhouse Reading Of Contractual Obligations To Play Out Season." So celebrate guys. You may not be very good, but we won't deny you this brief glimpse at happiness.
Of course, because this happened on the last night of the Marlin's second-worst season ever, it doesn't give fans that much to celebrate. This isn't a middle-of-the-season wondergame to reinvigorate some sense of hope or pride into a frazzled fanbase. It's more of a footnote to a morbid campaign.
But, hey, Álvarez was one of those players we got in that Blue Jays trade. Let's just hope Loria doesn't use this moment to justify it.