Marlins show mettle

Oct. 16, 2003, midnight | By Vivek Chellappa | 17 years, 3 months ago

Cubs overwhelmed by the better team

The storylines were everywhere. The Cubs would finally win the World Series, lifting a hundred year drought since winning the World Series. The fans were supportive: thousands of them flew to Florida to cheer on their team. But in the aftermath of the so-called "collapse" by the Cubs, one underlying fact has been glossed over. The Marlins were simply the better team.

Baseball purists pointed to the Marlins performance over the final three games as proof. Solid defense, clutch hitting, and solid pitching were the reason that the Marlins were able to win the series.

Take the performance of 23-year-old pitcher Josh Beckett. After pitching a complete game, two hit shutout of the Cubs in Game Five; Beckett, pitching on just two days of rest, shut down the Cubs for four more innings during Game 7 to seal the victory for the Marlins. Except for a single homerun when the Marlins had a four run lead, Beckett allowed no base runners.

The story behind right fielder Miguel Cabrera also deserves attention. After starting the year in the minor leagues, he batted cleanup in the biggest game of his life. In the first inning, he delivered with a 3 run homerun off of a 97 mph fastball that sucked the oxygen out of Wrigley Field.

"I'm telling you, man," teammate Ozzie Guillen said. "[Cabrera's] going to be better than Manny Ramirez. He's a better defensive player. He runs better. He's a better baseball player. And I say that with unbelievable respect for Manny. But this kid, there's nothing he can't do.
Add to the list the performance of MVP Ivan Rodriguez, whose clutch hitting was key for the team. Also add the abilities of two of the fastest people in baseball, Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo. The ingredients were in place for a world-class team that ended up in the World Series.

Do people forget that the Marlins were the winningest team in baseball since Memorial Day (79-46)? Since the hiring of the third-oldest manager in history, 72-year-old Jack McKeon, the Marlins have been a force to contend with.

Don't forget that the Marlins won the World Series in 1997. The Marlins' owners were criticized for going deeply in debt that year, because they had signed players the team could not afford. The team was shelled after they were forced to trade away most of the their talent. Little did critics realize that the players the Marlins had received were solid prospects that would form a nucleus that would take the Marlins to where they are.

Cubs fans will be disappointed, but the team with more talent and better coaching won. The Marlins will compete in the World Series, and they will shock people by winning games. The strength of the Marlins is not high-priced players, or a devoted fan base, but lie in a mastery of the fundamentals of baseball. Any team will be hard pressed to overcome that.

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Vivek Chellappa. As Vivek beings his final year in Blair, several new hobbies draw his attention: his passion for standup comedy and making lists with only one real piece of information. Vivek has recently developed a strong liking for the works of Mitch Hedberg, Dave Chapelle and … More »

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