In baseball, you never know.
In the year 2020, you never know.
Here is what I know now.
The Miami Marlins faced tremendous adversity moreover scrutiny.
A global Covid-19 pandemic did not discriminate against anyone. The baseball season was delayed leading to only a 60 game season.
Covid-19 is real, evident of the outbreak just days into the shortened season for Miami.
Let’s take a trip to memory lane. On opening day, Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro was placed on the injured list after testing positive for COVID-19. First baseman Garrett Cooper and outfielder Harold Ramírez also tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after that. Two days later, prior to the final game of the opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the scheduled starting pitcher, José Ureña, tested positive for COVID-19 and was scratched from his start.
Following the game against the Phillies, the Marlins delayed their flight back to Miami due to an outbreak’s concerns.
Miami remained in Philadelphia; games were being postponed, members of the Marlins were still being tested. At one point, while tweeting about the reported positive tests, I wondered why the Marlins? Covid-19 did not care.
The team was up to at least 20 reported positive cases of COVID-19 between players and coaches who traveled with the team since Opening Day, including 18 total players testing positive. Scary.
“There was a false sense of security; guys have been going through three weeks of spring training; everyone tested negative; they are all together; they let their guard down.” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter shared. “As an organization moving forward, MLB has made changes to the protocols; we have as well. We cannot make any mistakes; we have been allowed to hit the reset button.”
There were echoes of the season for Miami being canceled; instead, MLB postponed all games for the Marlins through August 2.
Members of the team were being transported back to South Beach; players were called up through their system to fill in for those who had to be quarantined. But the season continued. The fish went on to win their first five games after returning to play and first place in the division at one point.
The marlins faced adversity and did not complain instead; they played when the opportunity was given and won.
“In our jobs, we always plan for plan a, plan b, plan c, plan d and that is normally one or two players at a time,” President of baseball operations Michael Hill shared. “To encounter the numbers that we have to place on the injured list and respond to that has been a challenge for our entire baseball operations department.”
As a result of COVID-19 delays, players being quarantine, front office decisions, new lineup additions, the Marlins ended up being scheduled for 24 consecutive games. On September 24, in a 4–2 win against the Braves, the Marlins played their 21st game in a row, which is a violation of the CBA. Stating no team “No Club shall be scheduled, or rescheduled if practicable, to play more than twenty consecutive dates without an open day.”
The beat went on for the Marlins, winning on the diamond and off. In the middle of their eye-catching season, Marlins took a moment to share racial unjust is not overlooked even in the middle of a pandemic.
The Marlins and the New York Mets jointly walked off the field after a 42 second moment of silence to honor Jackie Robinson. Besides, draping a Black Lives Matter T-shirt across home plate as they chose not to play to protest and racial and social injustice after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
The team had momentum; there is no doubt jointly coming together for that protest made the ball club closer.
Collectively, through the adversity and scrutiny, the fish won.
Now here we are.
Shortened season, however, going in the Marlins were 20-1 odds to reach the postseason, the worst in NL and tied for worst in MLB.
There were 174 roster moves this season; also, only five players were on the roster the entire season.
Marlins used 25 different batters (3rd in MLB), 37 other pitchers (most in the MLB).
Add it all up; the Marlins are the first team in MLB history to reach the postseason after a 105-loss season.
“Nobody picked this club to be able to do anything this season,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly shared. “But we believed in ourselves. It’s easy to be proud of these guys, the way they have dealt with everything.”
Don’t be surprised if Don Mattingly wins manager of the year.
The Marlins are back in the postseason for the first time in 17 years.
It is the rematch of the 03 NLCS made infamous by the Steve Bartman incident. Marlins, a six seed is taking their talents to Wrigley Field to face the three seed Chicago Cubs.
The fish will go with Sandy Alcantara in game one, Sixto Sanchez game two, and Pablo Lopez (if necessary) in game three.
Again, in baseball, you never know. Cubs’ pitching is tough. It is only a short three-game series; Marlins have a chance. Marlins in three.