Guest FishFanInPA Posted September 15, 2004 Share Posted September 15, 2004 With no apologies whatsoever to the Cubs, I am rooting for the competition. That's how warmed I am by the saga of the Florida Marlins, Chicago's house guests, who've been burdened by a real-life ordeal yet are handling it with all the stress of frat guys on a panty raid. All you need to know is that the Fish have won 12 of 15 games while three hurricanes -- Charley, Frances and Ivan -- have paralyzed their state. This is in direct contrast to the Cubs, who have acted like three stooges -- Moe, Admin and Curly -- while sweating over traumatic, life-threatening issues such as team broadcasters and home-plate umpires. I couldn't believe my ears Monday when Kerry Wood, usually one of the saner Cubs, appeared on ESPN Radio and kept alive Stoneygate by claiming the fans have been "misinformed" about the players' ongoing disagreements with Steve Stone and Chip Caray. ''I think one instance [something] was said, and the one person on the other end has been running to the media constantly,'' Wood said. ''We got the bad end of the deal on that one. It keeps ending up in the papers.'' If he is suggesting Stone is tattling to reporters, I would urge Wood and his mates to purge such thoughts and concentrate on the National League wild-card race, as they did Monday night behind the ever-cool Greg Maddux in a smooth, 7-2 victory over Pittsburgh's scrub pitchers. The Cubs should be taking notes while watching the Marlins, who were continuing their bizarre local odyssey with a 6-3 comeback win over the Montreal Expos. They staged the game at U.S. Cellular Field, which means the Fish became the first world-champion baseball team to play a home date in Chicago since 1917. It would be perfectly fine with me if they stayed on the South Side for keeps, allowing us to ship the White Sox and their owner to Miami. But the Marlins wouldn't accept that trade, realizing they'd never win a World Series again. They're perfectly content as the ultimate road warriors, shrugging off storm-related problems that disrupted a three-game series against the Cubs at Pro Player Stadium and required them to sacrifice a home game during a Wrigley Field doubleheader. They kept their poise, split the twinbill, divided four weekend games, then ignored the hassle of moving from their four-star Michigan Avenue hotel to a fair-to-middling Sheraton in the northwest suburbs because of heavy convention traffic. It took the team bus more than an hour to reach The Cell. Yet there wasn't a single complaint. Why? These guys get it. ''Our thoughts are with all the people in Florida. We want them to stay safe and make sure they stay out of harm's way,'' said pitching ace Carl Pavano, who spent a nervous night last week taking shelter in his closet while eating trail mix. ''If you've got to play in Comiskey or play in Alaska, it doesn't matter,'' said Josh Beckett, Florida's starting pitcher in the victory. ''We'll try to win those games.'' Unlike the tight sphincters on both sides of our psycho baseball town, the Marlins were loose and cracking wise when they arrived at their temporary home. A nice sign greeted them when they arrived in the Sox' clubhouse -- ''Welcome to Your Second Home, Marlins'' -- and their 73-year-old manager, stogie-consumed Jack McKeon, quickly sought to smoke out the office of his former third-base coach, Ozzie Guillen. The players were intent on having a good time, watching ''The Price Is Right'' on TV while Dontrelle Willis bragged about winning a fantasy-football pool and others debated whether Nancy Kerrigan was better looking than Tonya Harding. ''It's an unusual situation, but we couldn't control the hurricane or the will of God,'' McKeon said. ''We have to accept it, go on and think nothing about it.'' They didn't expect much in the way of a crowd. ''I'd be very impressed if there were 5,000 here,'' third baseman Mike Lowell said. ''The day games are meant for Wrigley. Hopefully, we'll get a lot of White Sox fans who want to see us do well. If there was over a couple of thousand, I'd say that's pretty unique.'' The crowd was bigger and louder than I expected, announced at a suspiciously low 4,003, perhaps because the Sox feared a larger figure than the 5,747 who showed up for a makeup game two Mondays earlier against Philadelphia. At least 6,000 were in the house. Marlins president David Samson tossed autographed baseballs into empty sections, hoping for an Easter-egg-hunt effect when fans found them. He walked around the lower concourse, the only one open on a day when the upper deck and club seats were closed, and asked fans to name certain Marlins players. Anyone who succeeded received a team cap, including the fellow who hesitated and strained before spitting out, ''The leadoff hitter, Pierre,'' referring to Juan Pierre. Owner Jeffrey Loria had the club's home white jerseys shipped for the two-game stand, which continues this afternoon. He also dispatched mascot Billy the Marlin, along with the public-address announcer and support-staff members who used the same music and scoreboard heard at Pro Player Stadium. Crazily enough, the fans were very into it. Lee Elia, the doomed manager in 1983 who bemoaned Cubdom's unemployed daytime fans, wouldn't have been surprised to see the beer drinkers and hell raisers. At a price of $15 per ticket, with $5 going to hurricane relief, Cubs fans rooting against the Marlins sat behind the Expos dugout while Sox fans rooting against the Cubs sat behind the Marlins dugout. Some goofs kept a running commentary, with Sox fans mentioning Steve Bartman and Cubs fans noting the Sox are out of playoff contention. ''Spend some money!'' a fan shouted at Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. ''It's all your fault, Mariotti!'' another well-adjusted guy kept yelling at me. In the end, the Marlins rallied for six runs in the eighth inning thanks to four Expos errors. As still-nauseous Cubs fans will note, Florida staged similar rallies in the NL Championship Series. Yes, the Cubs still lead the Fish by 1-1/2 games in the wild-card race, but these remain spooky times. After all, didn't Pavano leave four tickets at the Wrigley window for Bartman over the weekend? And didn't left fielder Miguel Cabrera have a good time Sunday imitating the horror of Cubdom horrors, when Moises Alou threw his fit after Bartman interfered with the infamous foul ball? For Cubdom's sake, you want the home team to make the playoffs. But if you're rooting for fun and poise under pressure, Go Fish. Very nice piece from a guy I respect in the business and root for in Around the Horn...I'm gonna email him and suggest you all do that too to let him know that we're on his side. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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