We Bad News Bears! This was the motto of the 2007 Florida Marlins. Loss after loss piled up, mainly because of bad
pitching, which caused pitching coach Rick Kranitz to be let go, and they finished off the year with a 71-91 record.
Last place in the NL East, even behind the Washington Nationals.
So as anyone in their right mind would guess, the expectations coming into the 2008 season were pretty bad.
Some "experts" predicted 60 wins , some 70, but it didn't go any higher than that. The Marlins had the same
nucleus from the previous season, so there was no reason to believe that they were going to be any better.
What the experts failed to realize, though, was that this was a young roster,
and they were going to be 1 year older this year, so they would be more mature. The team also brought
in veteran leader Luis Gonzales
which helped in giving advice to the young players and by being a "clubhouse prescence".
The season started against division rivals New York Mets. Former NBA Player Mark Hendrickson was
given the start, and the game did not go well for the Marlins. The Mets won easily.
But after that opening series, the Marlins started racking up a lot of wins, and finished
off May by leading the NL East by 1/2 game and with a 31-23 record. This was one of the
best starts in franchise history, and though
some "experts" were saying it was too early to tell if the Marlins were for real, expectations
were rising and some fans started thinking playoffs. The Marlins spent the next 2 months battling
between 1st and 2nd in the division. And by the end of July, playoffs started looking like a reality.
But in the month of August, the Marlins started slumping, blowing leads, not scoring runs, and just
losing heartbreaker after heartbreaker. The Marlins went down to .500 for the first time in awhile,
and they were about 10 games back in their division, and even farther down in the Wild Card
race. Pressure was turning on manager Freddi Gonzales, and many people, including myself, thought that
he might be fired at the end of the season for the late season slump.
But you know? These are the Marlins! Anything could happen.
And in the middle of September, the Marlins started a short winning streak, about
3 games, something they hadn't been able to do in
awhile. And to help the cause, the teams they were trailing, the Mets and Brewers started slumping.
The Brewers even fired their manager Ned Yost.
Unexpectedly, the winning streak started getting stronger, and Marlins fans and players duddenly
started "scoreboard watching", and after their opponents kept losing, the Marlins are now 4.5 games
back in the wildcard race and 5 games back in the Division. But whatever happens, with this winning
streak, Freddi Gonzalez's job has probably been saved. He has brought excitement at this point
of the season for the first time since '05 when the Marlins were in the other end of a streak.
So unless Freddi Gonzales starts cursing at Jeffrey Loria from the end of the dugout, he will stay,
and hopefully bring a championship to Miami this season