The 2003 version of the Marlins wasn't just the best team in South Florida, or in baseball, or in all of sports last year. They were, from a dramatic standpoint, one of the best teams in recent memory. First off, the horribly nicknamed "Men in Teal" weren't supposed to do much, except maybe give the Braves some decent practice before the postseason. And the team's risking of a large percentage of its payroll on an aging star catcher seemed a bit odd, if strangely welcome. To no one's surprise, the Fish came floundering out, quickly falling to a dismal record. Then they hired Jack McKeon, a septuagenarian manager who decided to trade his grandkids for one more chance at major league glory. Then some kid pitcher named Dontrelle Willis, who had a delivery reminiscent of a prehistoric mating dance, joined the club -- and captured the country with an eight-game winning streak. Then another kid named Miguel Cabrera joined the team and, in his first game, hit a walk-off home run to win it. Then that aging catcher, Pudge Rodriguez, carried the club to the pennant. Josh Beckett, the young ace with a Texas drawl, finished off the Yankees in New York to win the world championship. So... what about this year? They're going to be good, damn good. But failing to sign the only sure Hall of Famer on the team -- that aging catcher -- wasn't smart. Expect them to make the postseason but fall short of a repeat.
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