The Marlins somehow escaped Montreal-like fan desertion when Wayne Huizenga sold off all the big talent after the 1997 World Series. A solid base of fish-lovers survived three consecutive losing seasons. But then John Henry skipped off to Boston and Jeffrey Loria bought the team, bringing a little of that Montreal magic with him. Now the Marlins are bringing in 5000 or so at home games, right on par with the 'Spos. And despite the fact that the carpetbaggers from Canada callously traded closer Antonio Alfonseca, the team is showing signs that it could be a serious playoff contender. The young pitching staff has the potential of supplanting Atlanta's old-timers as the best rotation in the National League, and the batting lineup is solid from top to bottom. If a few consistent guns emerge from the bullpen, the men in teal (and no, we're not talking about some dance troupe from Key West) might just vie for a championship. Which brings us to that ancient philosophical question: If a team is winning and nobody is watching, does anybody give a damn?
"I wept." With those simple words, Ray Hudson, the most quotable coach this side of Knute Rockne, confirmed what South Florida soccer fans had feared: The four-year-old Miami Fusion was dead, a victim of the money-lusting contraction fever that has gripped professional sports. The Major League Soccer team was killed by owner Ken Horowitz, who had steadfastly maintained he would support the Fusion for the long haul and then unceremoniously bailed out, insisting the action would make the sport stronger. That the death came less than six months after the Fusion completed a fairy-tale season only made the sting worse. In his first full year as coach, the always colorful Hudson led the team to its best record (16-5-5) ever, missing the MLS championship match by only one goal. The English-born Hudson, who first endeared himself to South Florida fútbol fans in the 1980s as a member of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, is now coaching D.C. United in the nation's capital. As for professional soccer in South Florida, with two failures on its record, fuhgeddaboudit.

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