10/15/2003 11:58 PM ET
NLCS Game 7: Game balls
Bring on the Red Sox! Or Yankees! For the World Series-bound Marlins, it doesn't matter who they face in World Series Game 1 on Saturday. We award up to five fish for heroes of the pennant-crazy Marlins, and "Harry Carays" to the best and worst of those cursed Cubs.
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Five fish: Whale of a performance
Four fish: Starfish
Three fish: Happy as a clam
Two fish: Nice minnow
One fish: Sorry, Charlie
Ivan Rodriguez: A no-brainer for the NLCS MVP award. He added yet another RBI on Wednesday for 10 in the series, an NLCS record, and has a hit in every Marlins playoff game. For the Marlins, this was money well spent.
Miguel Cabrera: The media guide bio says Cabrera is 20 years old, but he played throughout the series like he had been here before. His three-run home run off Kerry Wood spotted the Marlins a 3-0 first-inning lead and announced the beginning of a slugfest. His defense in right field -- a position he had never played before the postseason -- kept the Marlins in it.
Brad Penny and Josh Beckett: Both came back on short rest, Penny after a forgettable start and Beckett after a gem, and did something starter Mark Redman could not: kept the Cubs off the scoreboard. On two days' rest, Beckett held the Cubs to one hit and one run in four gutsy innings, but we will see if he can stay fresh for the World Series.
Common sense: When they handed a $10 million check to Pudge Rodriguez, common sense said it was too much. When 72-year-old Jack McKeon was brought in, common sense said he was too old to connect with a young roster. When the Braves, Cubs and Giants also made the postseason, common sense said the Marlins were overmatched. When they trailed, three games-to-one, in the NLCS, common sense said history was on the Cubs' side. When they trailed the Cubs, three games-to-two, facing the prospect of two games at Wrigley Field against co-aces Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, common sense said it was a nice run about to end. All the Florida Marlins did was come from behind in six of their seven playoff wins, punching common sense square in the mouth.
Five Harry Carays: Holy Cow!
Four Harry Carays: Like a long fly ball onto Waveland
Three Harry Carays: Careful -- Cubs fans are fickle
Two Harry Caray: Stuck in traffic on Lakeshore Dr.
One Harry Caray: Throw it back!
Billy Goat: That "Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!" skit from Saturday Night Live -- the one that made Chicago's Billy Goat Tavern famous -- is not so funny to the long-suffering fans of the Cubs. The supposed curse was treated lightly throughout the playoffs, especially when the Cubs had the Marlins on the ropes after Game 4, but after Games 5, 6 and 7 slipped away, it looks like that goat had the last laugh.
Moises Alou: The guy who carried the Cubs offensively throughout the division series stayed hot after a slow start in the LCS. One of baseball's best fastball hitters, Alou crushed a Redman bender into the crowd on Waveland Avenue to break a tie and give the Cubs a short-lived 5-3 lead.
Kerry Wood: Wood you believe the start to this one? In 32 regular season starts, Wood surrendered a nine first-inning runs, but Cabrera's home run put a three-spot on the board early Wednesday. Wood then tied it up in the second, crushing a two-run, fan-igniting home run off Redman. In the end, the Cubs finally lost one of his postseason starts.
Troy O'Leary: With the Cubs down four runs, Wrigley Field looked and felt like it was hosting a funeral. O'Leary injected some life with a solo home run to make it a three-run game, but the Cubs offense stopped there.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.