On October 25, 2003, the Miami Marlins (then Florida Marlins) defeated the New York Yankees 2-0 to win the second World Series in franchise history. You can pick up the commemorative World Series ring this year by the way, during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 2. I watched this as a little kid and so it holds a special memory to me. As we're nearing the All-Star weekend and the important series against Atlanta tonight, let's take a look back in time...
The Miami Marlins are celebrating the 20'th anniversary of the franchise's last World Championship this year.
The run to the World Series win started with a major off-season signing. C Iván Rodríguez was brought in on a one-year deal. "Pudge" took over as the team's captain and helped lead the team all season. The Miami Marlins (then Florida Marlins) finished the 2002 season with a 79-83 record. Going into the 2003 season, the young team had SP Josh Beckett (4.10 ERA/3.69 FIP in 107.2 IP in 2002); SP A.J. Burnett (3.30 ERA/3.19 FIP IN 204.1 IP in 2002); SP Dontrelle Willis (remember him?); 3B Mike Lowell (.276/.346/.471 in 2002) and1B Derrek Lee (.270/.378/.494 in 2002).
The Fish started the season with devastating news, A.J. Burnett was out for the season after just 4 unimpressive games (4.70 ERA). The season started on March 31 and through the end of April, the Jeff Torborg managed team was at 14-15. May went even worse, with The Fish ending the month at 26-31 and 12.0 games out of first place in the NL East. Torborg was replaced by Jack McKeon by this point. The team turned the corner a bit and finished June with a 42-42 record.
The Florida Marlins went on a tear in July, finishing the month at 59-49. The Fish finished August at 73-63 and ultimately the season at 91-71. This was good for the NL Wild Card. Iván Rodríguez finished the season with a .297/.369/.474 batting line and 4.5 WAR. Derrek Lee hit .271/.379/.508 with 31 HR and 92 RBI. Mike Lowell hit .276/.350/.530 with 32 HR and 105 RBI. Josh Beckett broke out with a 3.04 ERA/2.94 FIP in 142.0 IP. Dontrelle Willis also broke out with a 3.30 ERA/3.45 FIP in 160.2 IP.
The Fish were the underdogs going up against the 100 win San Francisco Giants in the NLDS. Both teams actually had 18-8 records in September, as the Florida Marlins were a different team once McKeon (75-49) took over for Torborg (16-22). Had McKeon been the manager all season, The Fish would've been a 100 win team too. The Miami (then Florida) Marlins won that series 3-1.
The 88 win Chicago Cubs waited in the NLCS. They took a 3-1 series lead, but The Fish won Game 5 4-0 at home to make it 3-2. Chicago however took a 3-0 lead in the 8'th inning of Game 6 in Chicago, seemingly on the way to their first pennant since 1945. You have to watch what happened next.... An 8 run 8'th inning led to an 8-3 Florida Marlins win. Game 7 in Chicago saw The Fish take a 3-0 lead in the first inning, and ultimately win the game 9-6 and the series 4-3. Pudge won the NLCS MVP.
The World Series saw the Florida Marlins take on the 103 win New York Yankees, who just beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 in a classic ALCS. The series started off competitively, with the teams splitting the first two games in New York City and in Miami. Game 5 took place in Miami, and The Fish won it 6-4. Game 6 switched to The Bronx and Yankee Stadium. Josh Beckett earned his World Series MVP with a 2-0 shutout win to clinch the Florida Marlins World Championship.
The 2003 season was amazing and the Miami Marlins had a great season. Let's celebrate that season 20 years later.