News? Not Really
Marlins Pretend They're Playing Small Ball By Choice
Posted: Wednesday March 14, 2007 1:37PM; Updated: Wednesday March 14, 2007 3:19PM
This story is not real. All names are made up, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. All quotes are fictional and any similarity to actual quotes is coincidental.
MIAMI--The Florida Marlins starting lineup will never be confused with the 1927 New York Yankees, but that's okay with manager Fredi Gonzalez, who plans to school his players on the fundamentals of "small ball." While other teams are bashing home runs, the Marlins will be bunting, sacrificing, stealing bases, and playing good old-fashioned station-to-station baseball.
"There's nothing like small ball," said Gonzalez, in his first year as Marlins manager. "There's nothing like moving that runner along, playing station-to-station baseball, and driving other teams crazy by stretching singles into doubles. That's why I tell all my guys 'Don't worry about slamming it out of the park every time. There's more than one way to win a baseball game.' You know what? They've been listening to me. We only have five home runs this preseason. Way to go, boys!"
The Marlins are 2-10 so far this preseason and have a team batting average of .200. So far, "small ball" hasn't resulted in many wins, but Gonzalez plans to be patient.
"It's only the preseason. Don't worry," he said. "Once the regular season starts people will be blown away by our small ball fundamentals. I'm just so glad we're not one of those loser teams that has to rely on home runs to score all our runs. How pathetic. What do you do if you don't hit a home run? Nothing. You lose the game. But with us, we don't need to hit home runs. We can lose games perfectly fine by playing station-to-station."
From the first day of spring training, the Marlins have been spending their days working on situational hitting, slapping the ball to the opposite field, and hitting pop-ups that are deep enough to drive the runner home from third. During batting practice, very few balls make it over the outfielder's head, which is exactly how the Marlins want it.
"The first day we got to spring training, we knew this was going to be an old fashioned, throwback type of team," said first baseman Mike Jacobs. "You should have seen me during our first intra-squad scrimmage. I got up to the plate and bunted! I was thrown out and the runner moved along to second. Well, he tried to, but it was the third out. Then Fredi explained that you're supposed to do it with less than two outs, which, frankly, is an awful lot to remember. Then he reminded me that I actually did have some power, so it would be okay if I tried to hit home runs. These are pretty mixed signals he's sending. If I start hitting homers, won't I be like one of those fat people who can't manufacture runs?"
Gonzalez points to the 2005 Chicago White Sox as a team that was able to win games with strong pitching and fundamentally sound baseball. The Marlins already boast some of the best young arms in the league, and Gonzalez believes a Wild Card berth is a distinct possibility. Last year, they came within a few games of the playoffs, despite having the lowest payroll in all of baseball.
"I think the White Sox proved you can win a World Series without having a lineup like the Red Sox or Yankees," said Gonzalez. "We definitely have the arms to win this thing, and don't forget, we were pretty close last year. This year, we're a little older, a little wiser, and we have a new manager. Also, we've added a little salary. We signed Aaron Boone to a one-year deal. Woo! That's taking a page out of the Yankees' book. When these guys want someone, they go out there and get him."
GM Larry Beinfest, who finished second to Twins GM Terry Ryan as Executive of the Year, approves of the team's smart, efficient style of play. He expects big things from the team, one year after firing manager Joe Girardi, who himself was named NL Manager of the Year.
"Now that we've fired Joe and hired Fredi, we feel this team is ready to compete for a playoff spot," Beinfest said. "The way I see it, we either win a World Series and I'm covered in glory, or we don't and I don't really give a shit. It's liberating not to give a shit, but I wouldn't recommend it to just anybody, like GM's of teams that actually have fans. They tend to frown on not caring, then they start pissing all over you and sending you death threats, and the next thing you know you're spending $136 million on Alfonso Fucking Soriano. Not naming any names, of course."
Dave Saraiva is the author of thebrushback.com. Click here to buy his book, The Brushback Report: All the Sports News That's Unfit to Print.