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Beckett's performace was indeed the best performance in the History of the Marlins.

 

Best performance ever by a Marlin

 

By Dave George, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, October 26, 2003

 

NEW YORK -- From the first out to the last, an unassisted tag play on the first-base line, Josh Beckett had Saturday's World Series clincher in his own hands. Nine innings, nine strikeouts, no runs. If the kid were in pinstripes, he'd be the toast of New York.

 

As it is, we'll just call the Florida Marlins flamethrower the guy who burned the toast, making his team the first in 22 years to take a championship from the Yankees in their own legendary ballpark. "Unbelievably great," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Beckett's World Series MVP performance, suggesting the birth of a new legend.

 

A tall tale for certain, this five-hit, 2-0 victory, rating right up there with the ones people love to tell about fellow Texans Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan. Or we could make it a pirate story, since Black Jack Morris in 1991 is the last pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout in a deciding World Series game.

 

Any description, no matter how colorful, falls short of the simple fact that a brash kid with a sore arm in early summer and a losing record of 18-19 for his career just overmatched Andy Pettitte, a thoroughly composed and fireproof veteran who is tied with John Smoltz for most post-season victories.

 

Beckett busted up New York's most reliable clutch hitters, getting Bernie Williams to bounce into a double play with a runner in scoring position and ending another threat by striking out Derek Jeter with a runner on second. He inspired great things from his teammates, too, like the improvisational slide that Alex Gonzalez made to score the first run, dodging Jorge Posada's lunging tag attempt and tickling home plate with his fingertips on the way by.

 

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria made his own trip around the bases at 12:20 a.m., nearly 90 minutes after game's end, in a custom world championship T-shirt soaked with champagne. This is how it ends for the wild-card Florida team, though Beckett considers the finality of it all to be more amazing than his own achievement.

 

"It is a relief," Beckett said, somewhat annoyed to be drawn away from the silly clubhouse scene to conduct a formal interview with the media. "I don't know, I can't believe we don't have a game tomorrow. I get to go deer hunting now. I look forward to that."

 

Always seeking a new thrill. That's what it means to be 23. As Torre put it, the Marlins "don't know what intimidation is." Here's a clue. Watch a tape of what Beckett did to the Yankees Saturday, not only the 97-mph sizzle but the sweeping curves he wasn't afraid to throw in tough situations. A 3-2 curveball to strike out Karim Garcia looking in the seventh with a runner on second comes to mind.

 

Overall, it was the greatest individual performance in Marlins history, and the most significant. The no-hitters thrown by Kevin Brown, Al Leiter and A.J. Burnett were cool but not as classic as this. The 15-strikeout game by Livan Hernandez in the 1997 National League Championship Series was amazing, but it wasn't in the World Series and it didn't deal the killing blow to Atlanta.

 

Even Beckett's own two-hit shutout of the Cubs last week, a one-man show that started the Marlins climbing out of a 3-1 hole in the NLCS, can't match this monumental effort in a ballpark that has been the seat of baseball's eternal power since Babe Ruth shook the Earth.

 

This game was so much larger than all of that, more surprising even than the Marlins' first World Series championship in 1997, a title won with big money and big-name players. Beckett, 9-8 during the regular season and on the disabled list in early summer with a strained elbow ligament, was no more likely a candidate to sparkle in October than any Florida player. Burnett, if anyone, was supposed to be the ace of the staff but he missed the entire season with Tommy John surgery.

 

This was destiny, however, dealt with a wild card. Loria, the owner who picked up the Marlins last year after two others abandoned it, gets a gold mine for his troubles. McKeon, more than 50 years in the game without managing a major-league playoff team, gets a World Series title as a reward for hanging tough and, regardless of everything, having fun.

 

His players made almost as much noise for Beckett in Game 3 at Pro Player Stadium, but his solid 7 1/3 -inning start that night wasn't good enough to win.

 

Saturday, on the other hand, was a slam dunk from the moment Derek Jeter took a called third strike as New York's opening batter in the first.

 

All the same, the heat was on for eight angry innings, and then McKeon sent Beckett out again in the ninth with a two-run lead to hold and a World Series to win. It was right in keeping with all the other aggressive moves that made the Marlins so dangerous the past few months.

 

The ninth inning, incredibly, was over in a heartbeat, just like this six-game upset of the Yankees. A couple of scary line drives to left by Williams and Hideki Matsui, each of them tracked down by rookie Miguel Cabrera. Then, fittingly, Beckett himself recorded the final out, scooping up a dribbler down the first-base line and laying the tag on Posada as a sellout crowd moaned at the simplicity of this defeat.

 

"This is a special individual," McKeon said of Beckett. "He's got the guts of a burglar and the confidence that he could get the job done. And I was not about to take him out in the ninth inning."

 

Good thing, because Florida's closer combo of Ugueth Urbina and Braden Looper would have scared South Florida to death.

 

"I just told the guys to go out there and have fun," McKeon said. "The pressure was on everybody else because we're not supposed to win."

 

Not the first time in 1997 with Wayne Huizenga's mercenary starts, and certainly not in 2003. This is two World Series titles for the Marlins in seven seasons. Two titles in 11 years of existence. Whatever comes next, and there may be significant siphoning of the roster in the off-season as contract negotiations continue on a more realistic course, this almost routine rout of the Yankees will reverberate forever.

 

And Josh Beckett, the strong right arm that finally wrestled this World Series away from all other contenders, will be forever young and powerful and brash.

 

"In big moments," Beckett said, "you have to step back and realize that sometimes less is more."

 

Everything you want in a World Series hero, with the spectacular bonus of so many seasons to come.

 

Palmbeachpost.com

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Beckett's performace was indeed the best performance in the History of the Marlins.

 

Best performance ever by a Marlin

 

By Dave George, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, October 26, 2003

 

NEW YORK -- From the first out to the last, an unassisted tag play on the first-base line, Josh Beckett had Saturday's World Series clincher in his own hands. Nine innings, nine strikeouts, no runs. If the kid were in pinstripes, he'd be the toast of New York.

 

As it is, we'll just call the Florida Marlins flamethrower the guy who burned the toast, making his team the first in 22 years to take a championship from the Yankees in their own legendary ballpark. "Unbelievably great," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Beckett's World Series MVP performance, suggesting the birth of a new legend.

 

A tall tale for certain, this five-hit, 2-0 victory, rating right up there with the ones people love to tell about fellow Texans Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan. Or we could make it a pirate story, since Black Jack Morris in 1991 is the last pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout in a deciding World Series game.

 

Any description, no matter how colorful, falls short of the simple fact that a brash kid with a sore arm in early summer and a losing record of 18-19 for his career just overmatched Andy Pettitte, a thoroughly composed and fireproof veteran who is tied with John Smoltz for most post-season victories.

 

Beckett busted up New York's most reliable clutch hitters, getting Bernie Williams to bounce into a double play with a runner in scoring position and ending another threat by striking out Derek Jeter with a runner on second. He inspired great things from his teammates, too, like the improvisational slide that Alex Gonzalez made to score the first run, dodging Jorge Posada's lunging tag attempt and tickling home plate with his fingertips on the way by.

 

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria made his own trip around the bases at 12:20 a.m., nearly 90 minutes after game's end, in a custom world championship T-shirt soaked with champagne. This is how it ends for the wild-card Florida team, though Beckett considers the finality of it all to be more amazing than his own achievement.

 

"It is a relief," Beckett said, somewhat annoyed to be drawn away from the silly clubhouse scene to conduct a formal interview with the media. "I don't know, I can't believe we don't have a game tomorrow. I get to go deer hunting now. I look forward to that."

 

Always seeking a new thrill. That's what it means to be 23. As Torre put it, the Marlins "don't know what intimidation is." Here's a clue. Watch a tape of what Beckett did to the Yankees Saturday, not only the 97-mph sizzle but the sweeping curves he wasn't afraid to throw in tough situations. A 3-2 curveball to strike out Karim Garcia looking in the seventh with a runner on second comes to mind.

 

Overall, it was the greatest individual performance in Marlins history, and the most significant. The no-hitters thrown by Kevin Brown, Al Leiter and A.J. Burnett were cool but not as classic as this. The 15-strikeout game by Livan Hernandez in the 1997 National League Championship Series was amazing, but it wasn't in the World Series and it didn't deal the killing blow to Atlanta.

 

Even Beckett's own two-hit shutout of the Cubs last week, a one-man show that started the Marlins climbing out of a 3-1 hole in the NLCS, can't match this monumental effort in a ballpark that has been the seat of baseball's eternal power since Babe Ruth shook the Earth.

 

This game was so much larger than all of that, more surprising even than the Marlins' first World Series championship in 1997, a title won with big money and big-name players. Beckett, 9-8 during the regular season and on the disabled list in early summer with a strained elbow ligament, was no more likely a candidate to sparkle in October than any Florida player. Burnett, if anyone, was supposed to be the ace of the staff but he missed the entire season with Tommy John surgery.

 

This was destiny, however, dealt with a wild card. Loria, the owner who picked up the Marlins last year after two others abandoned it, gets a gold mine for his troubles. McKeon, more than 50 years in the game without managing a major-league playoff team, gets a World Series title as a reward for hanging tough and, regardless of everything, having fun.

 

His players made almost as much noise for Beckett in Game 3 at Pro Player Stadium, but his solid 7 1/3 -inning start that night wasn't good enough to win.

 

Saturday, on the other hand, was a slam dunk from the moment Derek Jeter took a called third strike as New York's opening batter in the first.

 

All the same, the heat was on for eight angry innings, and then McKeon sent Beckett out again in the ninth with a two-run lead to hold and a World Series to win. It was right in keeping with all the other aggressive moves that made the Marlins so dangerous the past few months.

 

The ninth inning, incredibly, was over in a heartbeat, just like this six-game upset of the Yankees. A couple of scary line drives to left by Williams and Hideki Matsui, each of them tracked down by rookie Miguel Cabrera. Then, fittingly, Beckett himself recorded the final out, scooping up a dribbler down the first-base line and laying the tag on Posada as a sellout crowd moaned at the simplicity of this defeat.

 

"This is a special individual," McKeon said of Beckett. "He's got the guts of a burglar and the confidence that he could get the job done. And I was not about to take him out in the ninth inning."

 

Good thing, because Florida's closer combo of Ugueth Urbina and Braden Looper would have scared South Florida to death.

 

"I just told the guys to go out there and have fun," McKeon said. "The pressure was on everybody else because we're not supposed to win."

 

Not the first time in 1997 with Wayne Huizenga's mercenary starts, and certainly not in 2003. This is two World Series titles for the Marlins in seven seasons. Two titles in 11 years of existence. Whatever comes next, and there may be significant siphoning of the roster in the off-season as contract negotiations continue on a more realistic course, this almost routine rout of the Yankees will reverberate forever.

 

And Josh Beckett, the strong right arm that finally wrestled this World Series away from all other contenders, will be forever young and powerful and brash.

 

"In big moments," Beckett said, "you have to step back and realize that sometimes less is more."

 

Everything you want in a World Series hero, with the spectacular bonus of so many seasons to come.

 

Palmbeachpost.com

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