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.
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.