Wednesday, September 13, 2006
So the Marlins are a real problem for major league baseball. They’ve actually had success, winning the World Series twice since ’93 and threatening to make another run this season. The Devil Rays are a franchise that the MLB can be content to ignore: they play in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox. Good luck. But the MLB can’t ignore the damage that the Marlins do to the game. They actually win and bring championships home to a city where people simply don’t care about baseball. Enthusiasm for the 1997 Marlins was so low that the head of NBC hoped that the World Series would be a sweep so he could put his usual primetime lineup of Friends, Frasier and Seinfeld back on the tube because they got better ratings than the Marlins – Indians World Series. When the Fishstripes won, the people shrugged their shoulders and didn’t care because they knew that the Marlins were being dismantled in the off-season, which they were. Instead of excited fans lining up to buy season tickets for the champs, you had people staying away from the Marlins in droves. Flash forward to 2003, when the Marlins came from nowhere and spoiled a Cubs – Yankees World Series that MLB clearly wanted (though Red Sox – Cubs would have been better). The anti-climatic ’03 Series then saw the generally no-name Marlins triumph over the Yankees.
This season the no-name Marlins are once more threatening to destroy the post-season for Fox. I’d love to see the Fox guys trying to write promos for some of these games. Fox Writer #1: “Um … who plays short for the Marlins?” Fox Writer #2: “Uhhh … I dunno … That rookie guy …” I can imagine the promo: “Some guys play Albert Pujols and the Cardinals, tonight on Fox!” Meanwhile Fox Execs are sitting there thinking: “Jeez, sweep them so we can get Prison Break back on the air!”
So who are these guys? Who are the 2006 Florida Marlins?
Well, I would first off retract my description of the Marlins as being a crew of no-names. They have a few really good players, chiefly, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
Cabrera is quietly having another terrific season down there in Miami. He’s hitting .340, which narrowly leads the National League, with twenty-five home runs and 109 RBIs (fifth in the NL). Cabrera is also leading the NL with 132 Runs Created, three more than Albert Pujols and fourteen more than Ryan Howard. But Cabrera isn’t the marlins sole threat at the plate. Even more quietly rookie second-baseman Dan Uggla and shortstop Hanley Ramirez are having a great seasons. Uggla: .352 OBP, 24 Home Runs, 85 RBIs, and 100 Runs Created. Ramirez: .352 OBP, 13 Home Runs, 108 Runs Scored, 47 Stolen Bases, 94 Runs Created.
The Marlins aren’t exactly an offensive powerhouse – they rank in the middle of nearly every category and only really seem to excel at power hitting – but they are pretty efficient. Given that they are able to score near the league averages in every major offensive stat with a crew of rookies batting around Cabrera tells you that they are jelling better than expected.
Willis anchors the pitching staff. While he isn’t having the sort of season that he had in 2005, Willis is still one of the better pitchers in the NL and seems to have really come on of late. Since the All-Star Break Willis has lowered his ERA from 3.94 to 3.46 and has dramatically increased his strikeouts per nine innings from 5.54 to 8.08. In many ways he’s back to his ’05 form when he was nearly unhittable.
Again, the Marlins aren’t doing that well statistically, but they are doing it with largely inexperienced pitchers surrounding Willis and without a particularly good defensive alignment. They are jelling better than expected.
A few weeks ago I’d say that the Phillies were the team in the National League playing with momentum. They spent most of August defying expectations and getting back into the playoff race with an exceptional push. The Marlins now feel like the team of … well, not destiny, but they feel like the team that has big mo on their side. The race between the Marlins and Phils could ultimately fizzle if the Padres run away with the wildcard, but I suspect that the Pads will fade and make this a battle between the Fishstripes and Phils. Watch out, Fox. You could see the Fishstripes on your ‘net in October.
Wildcard Watch! … The Phillies and Braves were rained out and are slated for a makeup double-header today. Meanwhile the Padres lost to the Reds. If the Pads lose and the Phillies sweep the double-header, then the Phillies could move within a half game of the wildcard lead. Something to look forward to…
1. San Diego: 74-69
2. San Francisco: 73-71 (1.5)
3. Philadelphia: 72-71 (2.0)
4. Florida: 73-71 (2.0)
5. Cincinnati: 72-72 (2.5)
6. Houston: 70-74 (4.5)
7. Atlanta: 69-74 (5.0)
Crowd noise is ok say NFL teams, what a better sound than that of the fans enjoying our game. The problem is, it doesn’t stop there, and clubs should have some sort of control over “manufactured” noise, especially when dealing with noise specialists hired for the occasions. And there is quite a cacophony going on; music, horns, whistles, drums, artificial crowd noise, mascots, wave cheer, etc. Some of these devices are not actually permitted. The use of scoreboards and message boards could be used to indicate when to make noise or not. Field level speakers are supposed to be limited to 4 and it is not unusual for the number to be exceeded, and in the middle of this deafening blast the teams complain that they cannot communicate with each other or with those of the bench area. If you wish to follow the results of your games in a quiet manner without the clatter, check out hollywoodsportsbook.com. It is one of the top offshore sportsbook, with low juice, high bonuses up to 40%, delivering the whole range of your favorite sports thanks to state of the art software. The casino of the site has the usual array of games and card games presented in a pleasant and elegant setting. Hollywoodsportsbook.com has easy fast payout methods which makes it ideal if you want to enjoy a game of poker. Why not check it out now, it only takes 2 minutes to register at hollywoodsportsbook.com.