Being a Marlins fan this year has been like eating at a sketchy seafood buffet. For every satisfying performance, there's been an equal amount of times they've been completely nauseating. From slumping stars to a lack of timely hitting to an utterly unpredictable bullpen, there's no telling which team will show up from day to day. But even with the disappointments, stellar first-half performances by Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Delgado, and Dontrelle Willis have kept the Fish within striking distance of the wild card and the National League East pennant.
If any team understands the Marlins' situation, it's the Chicago Cubs, who've traveled an equally shaky path toward the All-Star break. The Cubbies find themselves just off the wild-card pace on the strength of their starting pitching and an MVP-like performance by first-baseman Derrek Lee. The former Marlin is making a legitimate run at the Triple Crown. If he racks up the league's highest batting average, most home runs, and most RBIs, he'll be the first player to do so since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Both teams try to gain ground in the tight wild-card race when they meet for a three-game set starting Friday, July 8, at 7:35 p.m. at Dolphins Stadium (2269 NW 199th St., Miami). Call 305-623-6100, or visit www.floridamarlins.com. -- Paul A. Leone
A Smashing Good Time
Table tennis -- like tennis without the athletes
For most people over the age of 13, table tennis falls on the list of respectable sporting events somewhere between tetherball, foursquare, and competitive farting. But for the hundreds of "athletes" converging on the Broward County Convention Center (1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) this weekend for the U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships, table tennis is far more than just Ping-Pong with a pretentious name. To them, it's a sport. Maybe they have a point. Table tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988, complete with endorsement deals and drug testing. The tournament begins on Friday at 10 a.m. with the finals Sunday at 6 p.m. Call 719-866-4583, or visit www.usatt.org. -- Paul A. Leone