White Dade vs. TIWWDN: Shut Up New York
If you live in South Florida, there is no greater joy than seeing your team knock off a team from New York. It is partly to do with your constant flow of transplants who feel it necessary to let us know where they are from, and partly to do with their incessant presence at our local sporting events. Yankee fans wear their jerseys to Hurricane Football games. Jets fans start their infuriating chant at a Dolphins-Chargers match-up. If you ever watch an away game in Miami you know what I’m talking about. 60% New York fans, at least. This is why 2003, when our underdog Marlins beat the Evil Empire From The North, was so sweet. It made up for Allan Houston’s bouncing shot in 1999, it made up for the Jets Monday Night Comeback, it made up for the countless games I’ve had to leave listening to your fans go on and on and on about how “New York is the Greatest City in the World.” A win for Miami is a win for the little guy. It’s a win for the underdog and it shuts up the arrogant pricks who think they’re better than you. And when it comes to arrogant pricks, you don’t get much bigger than Larry.
For those of you who don’t know, Larry writes a little blog called This is What We Do Now. He is on Gawker about twice a week, I think he gets in the neighborhood of 20,000 hits a day, won some award as “Best Urban Blog” last year and has hundreds upon hundreds of blog groupies at his beck and call every night. In short, he is the New York Yankees of Blogging. And so after attending a Yankees-Red Sox game with Larry back in May, I decided that a friendly wager should be in order as our underdog Marlins once again come to town this weekend to take on the Yanks. A night of binge drinking in New York is the prize, since apparently Lawrence would rather freeze his ass off in the concrete jungle than sit on the beach and get plastered while looking at topless girls. To each his own, I suppose.
A lot has changed since 2003, though. The Marlins decided that fielding a competitive team to play in front of 7500 people every night just wasn’t the brightest of financial moves, and traded away every player making over the league minimum. What South Floirda got in return was an opening day starting lineup that featured six guys who had never started a game at this level before, and a payroll of $15 million. That’s right, $10 million a year less than the Yankees’ .281-hitting third baseman. The local press predicted a season on line with that of the 1962 Mets and nobody gave this year’s Fish a chance of losing anything less than 100 games. The team is now frequently outdrawn by the Sacramento RiverCats.
Oh, but a funny thing happened on the way to the #1 draft pick. Somehow, after starting the season 11-31, the Marlins all of a sudden decided they wanted to start winning ballgames and now sit at a somewhat respectable 31-38. This team has perhaps the best collection of young talent in baseball, and they are living up to their potential long before anybody thought they could. The Marlins have caught fire of late thanks mostly to the starting pitching of three guys NOT named Dontrelle Willis and a bullpen that can only be described as “Shut Down” over the last month. “What?!” you say? “The Marlins?! Isn’t that the team that gave away Mike Jacobs jerseys on Jewish Heritage Day without checking too see if he was, in fact, Jewish?” Yes, those Marlins. And don’t look now, but this year’s team is poised to make a run a .500 by the All-Star break. They are new to the game, hungry and out to prove that they can do just as well if not better than any of the over-hyped stars from New York. Sound like anyone we know? Exactly.
So pull your heads out of your collective asses, Yankee fans. This years Marlins are not the cellar-dwelling scrubs you wish were coming to town so you could get back in the pennant race. When you look in your program and see “Alfredo Amezaga,” understand that he is not a new special at Carmine’s but rather one of the top utility players in the game. New Yorkers, I encourage you to go out to the stadium this weekend and educate yourselves in some of the best young talent baseball has to offer. Because I guarantee you will be hearing the names Uggla, Han-Ram, and Cabrera(Miguel, not Melky) for a long time. I doubt you’ll get a chance to see this team again until 2008, and next time, it’ll be in October.