2015 will certainly go down as one of the greatest years in sports history as, after a 107-year absence, the Chicago Cubs finally captured their third World Series title, sweeping a shell-shocked Miami in five games. A 100-1 shot at the start of the season, no one could have predicted…well, I suppose if you had a copy of Grays Sports Almanac….huh.
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Certainly, a lot has been made of the famous Back to the Future II prediction of late, as after twenty-six years, the designated season has finally arrived. While providing plenty of fodder for fans and prognosticators, a piece of recent MLB news caused me to stop and think that it was worth taking some stock of the other prediction made by the film- that Miami would have a MLB team in 2015. Officially founded just over two years after the release of the pop-culture classic, the “Miami baseball team” has been on the field for twenty-three seasons and counting- winning two titles of their own in the interim.
That piece of news by the way was the decision of the Milwaukee Brewers, as announced by FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal, to tap Craig Counsell as their new skipper after the dismissal of former chief Ron Roenicke. Counsell, as every Marlins fan worth his salt knows, crossed the plate as the winning run of the 1997 World Series, giving Miami their first world championship in the 11th inning of Game 7 on an Edgar Renteria single.
The anointing of Counsell brings the tally of former Marlins players or managers currently managing to five, which is quite an impressive tally for baseball’s third youngest franchise. Colorado’s Walt Weiss, Miami’s Mike Redmond, and Counsell have all taken the field as a Marlin, while Atlanta’s Fredi Gonzalez and New York’s Joe Girardi formerly helmed the club.
That mark of five ties Miami with the Yankees, Indians, Brewers, and Dodgers for most active managers with ties to their organization. If you want some even more obscurely pleasant stats to consider, give these a shot. There are only four active managers who- while actually being on the roster for at least one- have never lost a World Series; two of them popped the champagne as a Marlin, and in two different seasons.
Further, only two franchises in baseball can claim that they have two active managers who’ve won a title with them -the Miami Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks. And if you’d like to secure your mastery of your local pub’s trivia night, here’s the moneymaker. Craig Counsell is the only active manager to have won a championship with two different teams: the Marlins and the Diamondbacks. Not a typo- those four managers and four titles actually amount to only three different players, and for that matter, only three different championships. Counsell won in 1997 as a Marlin, and would eventually go on to pair with Washington’s Matt Williams for Arizona’s magical 2001 run; Redmond was on the 2003 squad that secured Miami’s second title. The Marlins’ entrants were teammates of course, but for far less successful clubs in 1998 and 1999.
Bottom line, Miami has had a much more significant impact on the game than one might have thought at first glance. Since coming into the league in ‘93, only ten different teams have won it all; the Marlins have done it twice. Which, not incidentally, gives them a career tally as-good-as or better than eleven other clubs.
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Throw in five no-hitters, four ROY winners, the 11th longest hitting streak ever, and the existence of Miguel Cabrera’s and Giancarlo Stanton’s prodigious power projections, and you’ll have a résumé any team would be proud to look back upon over just twenty-three years. Originally created as part of a punch-line, the on the diamond history of the “Miami baseball team” has been far from a laughing matter.