MIAMI -- The Marlins, riding the wave of home runs by Giancarlo Stanton (aka, "Cruz" for Players Weekend), have crept into the National League Wild Card picture.They've won five straight series and are building momentum for what they hope is a meaningful stretch run. Still, they're going to have to
MIAMI -- The Marlins, riding the wave of home runs by Giancarlo Stanton (aka, "Cruz" for Players Weekend), have crept into the National League Wild Card picture.
They've won five straight series and are building momentum for what they hope is a meaningful stretch run. Still, they're going to have to stay hot -- and will need some help to reach the postseason. But it is certainly possible.
At least, that's how Jack McKeon and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez -- two major reasons why the Marlins won the World Series in 2003 -- see things.
The Marlins honored Rodriguez on Saturday for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. McKeon, a special adviser in the organization, managed the 2003 squad's improbable World Series championship run.
Before the season, McKeon felt the Marlins had a chance to reach the postseason. But that scenario didn't seem remotely possible when their record dropped to 17-30 on May 27. Since then, Miami has gotten back over .500, and it has a key series starting on Monday with the National League East-leading Nationals in Washington.
"I think you're seeing it now," McKeon said. "You're seeing the guys come together, and not worrying about being selfish. They're trying to figure out a way to win. [They're saying], 'What can I do to help [the team] win?' I see the difference from a month ago to now. It looks like they've come together, and have one thing in common -- doing every little thing to win."
The 2003 Marlins overcame long odds, including McKeon replacing Jeff Torborg as manager in May that season. At one point, that squad sat 19-29 on May 22 before going on a remarkable run. With Rodriguez offering leadership behind the plate, and McKeon's no-nonsense approach, the Marlins went on a 72-42 rampage to finish 91-71. From there, they shocked the baseball world, taking care of the Giants and Cubs in the postseason on the National League side. After defeating the Yankees in six games, the '03 Marlins claimed the organization's second World Series title.
Rodriguez on Saturday spent some time in the Marlins' clubhouse, speaking to several players. The recently inducted Hall of Fame catcher noted that seasons aren't defined in the first few months.
"Remember, this is a long season," Rodriguez said. "It's 162 games. Sometimes you're going to have ups and downs. It's normal in baseball. It's impossible to keep the same pattern all the time."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.