Sept. 18, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes (center) tries to elude teammates after hitting an RBI single to win the game against the Atlanta Braves in the 10th inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Miami Underdogs


Today while I was at my “able to pay my bills” job, I ran into an ex girlfriend who I dated six years ago. We got to talking, and as we reminisced about the old days, she asked me if I remembered helping her clean her apartment one day and finding an old Sports Illustrated issue. I said yeah it was the 2003 Baseball preview issue. She told me that she has kept that issue all these years and wondered if it was worth anything. I told her not really, but with the Marlins being in the news it would be a nice gift to give a Marlins fan who is angry about the most recent trade. She laughed and we said our goodbyes. Now on to that issue- the reason I brought up the recent Marlins trade to her was because 2003 was the year the Marlins won the World Series (of course if you are reading this article you know that already, but just in case you’re new to baseball). That was also the issue that said the Marlins would be the worst team in baseball and be lucky to win anywhere close to the wins they had in 2002. Wow were they wrong. This got me thinking maybe that is what the Marlins really need, to just always be the underdogs.

Let’s go back to 1997. No one thought the Marlins were going to do anything that year. Vegas only had the Marlins winning 84 games. Somehow, the Marlins made the playoffs. Then it was- oh there is no way the Fish can beat the Giants. They’re too young, the Giants are going to roll over them. Can anybody say sweep? Moving on to the Braves, the Braves won the division, had won the NL Pennant 4 times in the 90′s, and were World Series Champs in 1995. Forget that the Marlins beat them 8 out of 12 times in the regular season. That’s crazy, no way the Fish will beat the Braves. Won in 6! Now on to the World Series. They played the Cleveland Indians who beat the big bad Yankees to get there. Wanting to avenge their lost to the Braves in 95, the Indians wanted it more. There’s no way this young up and starting team was going to beat the mighty Indians. It’s too cold for the Fish to play in Cleveland. You know what, keep making excuses, and Édgar Rentería will show you that we will win. 1997 was the year of your Florida Underdogs.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_Marlins

Fast forward to 2003. That infamous Sports Illustrated issue that got all this typing going. At one point in the season the Marlins were 16-22 and had an aging Jack McKeon replacing Jeff Torborg. SI was getting this one right. What’s this? Somehow the Marlins claimed the Wild Card! Well, no way are they going to beat the defending NL Champs. Look at that, the Giants took a 1 game lead. It’s over, Fish are fried. BAM! Iván Rodríguez gets the last out of the series at home. FISH WIN! Well, they can’t beat those “lovable losers” the Cubs. Everyone was saying this year was their year(HA!). Cubs take a 3-1 lead, are only 6 outs away from going to the World Series, and it looks like the fish have been gutted. Enter Steve Bartman. Oh, no worries, it’s only one game. Besides, we have Kerry Wood for game 7, we got this. Derek Lee singles in the 5th, scoring Pudge. Marlins never look back win their 2nd Pennant. Well, they got lucky, no way they can beat the Yankees with their all star cast, their 164 million dollar payroll, and this is the 100th anniversary of the World Series, it belongs to the Yankees! Yanks take a 2-1 lead. It’s over! Midnight has come for the Cinderella Marlins. CRACK! Walk off homer for Álex González. In game 5 in comes Ugueth Urbina to shut down the Yankee rally. Oh, there is no way Josh Beckett can win on only two days of rest. Sorry Yankee fans not this year. Marlins win The Series! Let’s hear it for your Florida Underdogs.

So why the history lesson? It’s simple. This past season, almost every baseball analyst chose the Marlins to go to The Series. Expectation was so high for them. This franchise has never had hopes this high before. SI even gave them the cover with “Marlinsanity”. The years we won The Series or had an above .500 record, nothing was expected of us. How about 2006. We had a no hitter, 4 rookie pitchers having 10 or more wins, a 21 million dollar payroll (less than Álex Rodríguez), were 20 games under .500 at one point then got above .500 (never been done in baseball before), manager of the year, and still had a 78-84 record. Not bad for a team that was suppose to lose 100 games. Look at the 2008 season, 84-77 record, first time in baseball history that the infield hit 29 or more homers, spoiled the Mets’ chance to play in the playoff, and they had lowest payroll in baseball. No one expected them to do anything, especially after trading Miguel Cabrera in the off season. How about 2009. We had a rookie of the year, a Silver Slugger champ, had an 87-75 record, and were poised to make it into the Wild Card. That is until all the baseball analyst jumped on the Marlins’ band wagon and in mid September said they were going to win the Wild Card. The Fish just like being an underdog. Now those years the Marlins didn’t win The Series, they didn’t even make it into the playoffs, but they were a fun team to watch, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

I don’t know what it is. The Marlins perform their best when no one expects anything from them. I know the goal is to win The Series, but no one can win it all the time, baseball would just get boring after that. So I’m asking all the analyst out there please don’t pick my Marlins for anything. Let them be the underdogs. The Cubs are the lovable losers, and until 2004 and 2007 the Red Sox were the underdogs. Let the Marlins be the underdogs now. It suits us so much better anyway.

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  • disqus_4PK2qo3aRE

    This is so full of inaccurate information that it’s laughable

  • Guest

    What are the inaccuracies? After reading your comment I looked up everything the writer said and they all seem to be right. The only thing I found was the Braves won 5 NL Championship but the 5th didn’t happen till 1999 so that would not have been taken into account in 1997.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rob.brown.3551 Rob Brown

      The only inaccuracy concerns the author’s take on the Marlins’ 1997 season. The Marlins were expected to at least make the play-offs that year and possibly go even further, which of course, they did. They already had Gary Sheffield, who was coming off MVP-caliber seasons in 1992 and 1996. Kevin Brown and Al Leiter had just had their best seasons as starting pitchers and had been just as dominant as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz had been for the Braves. To give the rotation even more depth, they signed Alex Fernandez as a free agent, who had been one of the aces of the Chicago White Sox’s pitching staff since 1993. And, to give Gary Sheffield protection in the line-up, they signed Bobby Bonilla and Moises Alou as free agents, who were still in the prime of their careers. In the bullpen, their was Robb Nenn, who had established himself as one of the best relief pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons. The 1997 Florida Marlins had spent so much money in the off-season that they were being compared to the 1992 New York Mets, a.k.a., The Worst Team That Money Could Buy (ironically, both teams had Bobby Bonilla as one of their clean-up hitters!). One sportswriter said during Spring Training that 1997 could very well be The Year of the Marlin. Unlike the 1992 New York Mets, the 1997 Florida Marlins proved that money can win championships.

      • tofishytohandle

        I see your point. What you said is all true about the beginning of the 1997 season according to SI, but according to Vegas Odds Marlins were only projected to win 84 games not really a playoff winning number, also Vegas Odds had Marlins losing 3-2 to the Giants, Braves 4-2, Indians 4-3. The players stats are also correct, but even SI said that the team could only be a sub 500 team if Gary injuries acted up again. Then you also had ESPN saying that the Marlins would only finish third in the NL East. It just all depends on who u listen to. Like that one sport writer you said. That’s what the problem with an article like this is. You can make a case for both sides being that it was 15 years ago and the Internet wasnt what it is today. But hey everyone is entitled to there thoughts. Thats why we live in this great country.

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