Hanleylicious Posted September 12, 2003 Share Posted September 12, 2003 It's my first article, I like writing, so i thought i'd try my hand at an article. maybe some of you could give me some "constructive criticism" -Looking Back Spring Training 2003, It?s that time of year again in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues- American and National league teams gear up and get ready for an exciting season ahead of them. 1 goal: to go all the way- to the World Series, that is. But for the Florida Marlins, many players and fans looked upon it as an ?endless rebuilding process?. Ever since the Championship season of 1997, the Marlins haven?t been able to get through one year with a winning record, let alone pull off a .500 season. The Florida Marlins were considered a ?joke?. After all, who wouldn?t call a team a joke that could hardly get 10,000 fans to a ballgame on a weekend, or any night for that matter. Little by little the fan base dropped?and dropped. Then the front office unloaded payroll which meant getting rid of fan favorites like Mark Kotsay, Livan Hernandez and Cliff Floyd amongst many. And now the bandwagon that used to be packed with vast numbers of happy fans with Marlins caps and shirts was now crawling along, vacant and rolling aimlessly season after season while fears of contraction lingered in the air. And as the 2003 season rolled along people still didn?t care about the Marlins. The same team that they loved in that magical 1997 season was now just a mere figment in their memory. Opening Day 2003. Well, the Marlins picked up right where they left off the 2002 season. Jim Thome took the first pitch he saw from Josh Beckett into the gap and the Phillies didn?t stop pummeling the Fish until they had mounted an 8-0 lead, and then hung on to it as they won an easy 8-5 decision. And as the reality of another long season settled in, the Marlins became more and more restless. 38 long games passed, and in this time period, many controversial moves and actions happened. For starters, Team Pitching staff Ace A.J. Burnett found out he was gone for the year because of ligament problems in his pitching elbow. Michael Tejera tripped over first base trying to beat out a ground ball and injured his Achilles and went on the DL. Josh Beckett was now also bothered by persistent blisters on his pitching hand and he too joined A.J. and Michael Tejera on the Disabled List. And the most significant of the events that happened in the first 38 games: The Marlins were tucked away in their usual place- the cellar of the NL East with a mediocre record of 16-22. Hopes of a Playoff berth soon turned to dreams and the dreams slowly dissipated along with the few fans that managed to withstand the pain of watching the Marlins play each night. As May11th rolled along, the miniscule fan base that Florida had, found out that a new guy by the name of Jack McKeon had taken over, and Jeff Torborg was out. Many thought the firing of Torborg was just an excuse for the horrible record, and the Infield who at the time led the National league in errors, and the $10 million catcher who just wasn?t producing. It was perceived as shoveling the dirt on Torborg. And the media didn?t waste any time to jump on the Marlins and start bashing the Front Office and Jeffrey Loria for the move. Dan Le Betard wrote an article entitled ? Firing Will Not Solve Marlins Problems? in which Le Betard said the Marlins were ?not good enough or expensive enough? and that they ?didn?t know what they were doing?. Well it?s now September 11th, 2003 and the Marlins have a 1 game lead in the Wild Card, 16 games over .500. Under Jack McKeon since late May, they have the best record in the Major Leagues, sparked by Dontrelle Willis who was called up from double A and, as a 21 year old rookie, represented the Marlins in the 2003 All-Star game. Dontrelle, also known as ?The D-Train,? is a top contender for NL Rookie of the Year with Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks and Scott Podsednik of the Brewers. Center Fielder Juan Pierre has also helped the Marlins considerably, batting .302 and leading the Majors with 60 stolen bases. Ivan Rodriguez has also turned it up considerably and is now batting .301 with 16 homeruns and 138 hits on the season. But the centerpiece of the Marlins long list of noteworthy players is their manager, Mr. Jack Mckeon, the 3rd oldest manager in the Major Leagues behind Connie Mack and Casey Stengel. We look back on that day in May when this 72 year old man, whom everyone doubted, was pulled from his cabin home set back in the mountains of North Carolina, and put in front of him was a sub-par baseball team, but a team with potential. And as the Marlins stand here today, columnists from all over the country stop to stare at the standings, and see that man, Jack Mckeon, who?s 72 years young, and his team, who?ve come from the top of the National League to the depths of the Majors and back up to the top again. Who would?ve known that Old Man Mckeon, cigar dangling from his mouth, could take this team under his wing and help them back up. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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