Thursday, September 07, 2006

Go to hell, Florida Marlins

It will be on the front page of the sports section of your Plain Dealer this morning, greeting you over Fruity Pebbles, scrambled eggs, bagels, or whatever your breakfast of champions is. There it will be looking you straight in the eye. A picture of an ecstatic Anibal Sanchez, most likely being carried off the field by his teammates.

What is an Anibal Sanchez, you ask? Well, he's a pitcher for the Florida Marlins. A rookie pitcher for the Florida Marlins. A rookie pitcher who before Wednesday night had started all of 12 games and thrown all of 78.1 innings in his major league career. A rookie pitcher who joined the Marlins in the offseason, along with Hanley Ramirez, when the Marlins traded Josh Beckett to the Boston Red Sox.

And now a rookie pitcher, who in his lucky 13th start in the bigs, has thrown a no-hitter. Which is the most disgusting thing a Cleveland Indians fan can hear. Especially while eating Fruity Pebbles, scrambled eggs, a bagel, or whatever his or her breakfast of champions.

More than the Pittsburgh Steelers, more than the Baltimore Ravens, more than the Detroit Pistons, even more than the Chicago White Sox -- that's how disgusted the Florida Marlins should make us Cleveland fans.

For a moment let's just forget about the 1997 World Series, where the upstart Marlins -- just five years old at the time -- handed our town one of the most devastating psychological blows in sports history. The Mesa! The only time a team ever held the lead in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the World Series YET LOST. It could only be done by a Cleveland team. And it was. But let's put that aside.

Let's think about the stinking four no-hitters the Marlins have thrown in just 13½ years of existence. That's one every about every three years. The Indians have 14 no-hitters in their history, which spans almost 105 years. That's a no-hitter every 7½ years. And none since 1981. The Marlins have four since their debut in 1992.

Then there's not just the disgusting World Series victory over the Indians, but their is the SECOND Marlins world championship. That came in 2003, and even though it was against the dreaded New York Yankees, what Cleveland fan could take solace in it? Do you root for the Yankees, which was like rooting for U.S. Steel as comedian Joe E. Lewis said in the 1950s (or like cheering on Exxon today), or do you root for the cocky new kid on the block WHO ALREADY HAS AN UNDESERVED WORLD SERIES trophy? Ugh, Jigsaw couldn't come up with a worse trap in Saw III.

But wait, there's more. Despite starting 11-31, the Marlins have become the first team in more than 100 years to work their way back to a winning record after being 20 games under .500. Right now they're 70-69, just three games out of the wild card lead. The Indians, with four less wins, are farther from civilization than the gang from Lost, 14 games out of the wild card lead.

Oh, and we are SO PROUD of the Marlins, because they snapped the longest no-hitter drought in the history of baseball. Never mind that three days ago Washington Nationals pitcher Ramon Ortiz almost did it, taking a no-hitter into the ninth.

Nope, baseball's new (and old) darlings, the Florida Marlins have done it. And they're right in the wild-card hunt. And they remain rammed in the craw of every Indians fan everywhere who roots for things to be done the right way, who roots for effort, who patiently sits by his radio and waits for the Indians to finally do SOMETHING besides make God angry.

But, hey, the Indians have one of baseball's best records over the last month, which leaves them at exactly six games under .500.

Six under, there's a fitting number for everything Cleveland.

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