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Dan Le Batard Column

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Win two now, and there will be more magic in Florida's season


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Magic numbers? Marlins need two wins to halt Phillies


Two out of three.


That's all the Marlins need to do to now.


Take two of three in Philadelphia beginning tonight and you not only finish the Phillies but you also get, as a special bonus, the very real possibility that calm, reasonable, Wannstedt-ian Philadelphia manager Admin Bowa will spontaneously combust immediately, spewing lava, bile and innards all over the National League East.


Baseball is our most mathematical game, and all the math tilts in Florida's favor if the Marlins take two out of three.


Sounds so simple, doesn't it?


If the Marlins can somehow go from Jeff Torborg's firing to 17 games over .500, if they can lose their best pitcher and best hitter and still somehow have a record just like the New York Yankees in the second half, how hard can it possibly be to take two of three from a team they have already beaten eight straight times?


Answer: Very.


Jim Thome has a very big bat he would like to take to all of South Florida's optimism.


But, hey, it's not like Albert Pujols, Sammy Sosa and Jeff Bagwell don't have big bats, too, and tiny, little Florida somehow has a better record than their teams, too.


This is what winning two of three would do for the Marlins: It would put them up three in the loss column with nine games left. That means Florida, as good as any team in baseball the second half, would then have to finish 3-6 and Philadelphia would have to finish 6-3 for the Phillies to merely salvage a tie at that point. That's not going to happen. The Marlins, great at home, finish the season here with three against the Mets. While the desperate Phillies would be trying to save their season against the Braves.


You want another reason to have more optimism about baseball than we have had at any time here since 1997?


The Marlins have swept the Phillies the past two times they have played them, here and there.


They don't have to be that good over the next three days.


Two of three beginning tonight, and the Phillies are done.


''I don't understand how the Marlins are doing it,'' says Giants ace Jason Schmidt. ``That team doesn't look any different than last year's team to me.''


This is not local homerism: The surprise Marlins are the best team story in this sport, although Barry Bonds chasing his first championship at age 39 while mourning the death of his father remains the best individual one.


The Royals were the game's most tantalizing tale for a while, but the numbers caught up to them. Kansas City was allowing more runs than it scored all season, and history shows those teams always finish .500 or worse. So the Royals slid back toward mediocrity while the Marlins were blessed by a magical combination of excellence, grit and good fortune.


Luck helps, always, and the Marlins have had it.


It isn't just because pitchers like Carl Pavano and Mark Redman and Dontrelle Willis are having the seasons of their lives, all at the same time. And it isn't just because every one of Florida's position players, every single one, is producing at either his career averages or better, without a single dud of a season in the bunch. (That doesn't happen very often, on any team. Exhibit A: The expensive Mets, where Mo Vaughn, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Roberto Alomar and Cliff Floyd all suffered some combination of injury or failure.)


It's because the breaks have been going Florida's way -- you go 1-8 on a road trip and pick up half a game in the wild-card standings? -- in a manner that makes crusty, lovable Jack McKeon look good even when he does something bad.


Take the curious case of Mike Mordecai. Twice this season, McKeon has inserted the light-hitting Mordecai as a pinch-runner for Mike Lowell, his best hitter. Mordecai isn't particularly fast, mind you. And there aren't many instances when Lowell's offense should be taken out of a tight game, period.


But twice McKeon has yanked him late -- once against John Smoltz and once against Eric Gagne. In other words, you have yanked your best hitter twice for a light-hitting player who isn't particularly fast in a situation against relievers that aren't going to allow Mordecai to score even if Bonds, Mantle and Mays are standing on deck together.


So what happens?


Mordecai doesn't score either time, of course.


But he comes up both times later in the game in Lowell's spot and hits game-winning homers.


Of course.


The tough, emotional Marlins have a little magic in their hands, obviously.


It gets much tougher after the next 12 games, believe it or not.


Because the Marlins might have to go through Bonds, the Braves and the Yankees for the title.


But the fact that we're even discussing it this time of year is flabbergasting.


And we will be discussing it more, and louder, if the Marlins win two of their next three.

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While I despise Dan, he shouldn't be accused of something he is not - a person jumping on the bandwagon.


Dan seeks out quotes and comments for a living (you think these quotes just fall in his lap? He probably had dozens of quotes to choose from he could have used but he chose this) and used one from Jason Schmidt ("I don't understand how the Marlins are doing it") to use Schmidt's words instead of having to say it himself.


Dan cannot say "hey I was wrong about these guys", about Pudge who he once opined was the equivalent of "implants on a corpse", window-dressing on a dead franchise. Or about the acquisition of Mark Redman and many of the other players he has lambasted because he's paid to lambast. If he does then he has to acknowledge the success of the front office and and by association the ownership who he vilified before they even took control of the team last year. To do that would be to admit that, as a sports columnist he is the fraud we've always thought he was.


This Dan is no different today than the Dan of old, a wolf in sheeps clothing. He stuck his finger in the air and felt which way the winds were blowing and he decided it was better to be upwind than down.


Just more crap from Mr. LeBatard tied with a prettier bow. But its still crap and it still smells.

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couldn't have said it better myself. :thumbup

It is not (as so many local writers & sportscasters are fond of reminding everyone) the job of the media to hype a team, back its ownership, gloss over its missteps, write with a hometown bias (a "rose-colored pencil"?), or provide the advertising and marketing jobs that are the responsiblilty of the owner & management.


That being said, it gets pretty bleak when they're almost rooting for the home team to fail so that the predictions of doom and despair all come true. Then they can shake their collective heads in mock empathy and say, "See, we told you it would come to this. You fans deserve better." These guys have their minds made up long before their targets have a chance to prove themselves.


Then when the wind changes directions (as marlins03 notes) they manage to squeak out a "Hey Isn't This Great!" article. I'll tell you what's great Dan: imagining you squirming in your seat, having no other choice but to write a positive article about the team when it's over & done with.


Actually I don't care what the hell he writes. He's an egotistical jackass and I never read him anyway. The Sports Reporters is probably a good place for him, along with that pencilneck geek Lupica. Ever notice how these guys all consider themsleves far more important than the sports they cover?


What Marlins2003 said.

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Great post Hot, and thanks for the kudos. If i could add one thing to your excellent post, it would be that the LeBatard's, the Alzegary's, the Goldbergs, all think we readers/listeners have bad memories or just plain stupid. While I would not go so far as to say this was a positive article, it's as if it were written in a vacuum, "ignore everything I've written for the past year and a half and let's all be fans together" just doesn't play well in my part of town, not after how maliciously he has treated this organization, from the ownership to the players and the fans. I don't have a short memory, and i don't forgive so easily.


When Orlando Alzegary pretends he's always been a fan I wanna puke. And at the same time I want to punch him in the mouth for thinking we are so stupid we would really believe him. The same goes for LeBatard in spades. Dan only proved one thing today, that he will say anything to anyone at anytime if it fits his purpose. And today his purpose was to cover his a**.


BTW, I do subscribe to your self-fulfilling prophecy theory totally and completely. I've said here, for whatever reason, the Herald clearly had an agenda visavis the Fish and it was to damage this franchise in any way it could.

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LeBatard needs to make up his mind!

Either like us or hate us! Not this mix every week!

Dan only needs to cash his paycheck. Otherwise he's free to write what he wants. He doesn't care about you, the fan, he'd rather be known as the guy who killed the Fish than the guy who truppeted their rebirth.


He'd rather be right for all the wrong reasons than wrong for all the right reasons.

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