10/17/2003 2:59 AM ET
East Coast rivalry brewing
Marlins-Yankees Series pits proven against new
No curses here.
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
There will be no discussion of goats, tavern owners or one-sided trades from more than eight decades ago allowed in this World Series.
The Marlins-Yankees matchup promises to be a wild ride, like nothing the East Coast of the U.S. has recently seen. Yes, it's going to be difficult to top both championship series this year, but these teams will try.
And no, this isn't a classic rivalry along the lines of Yankees-Red Sox, Cubs-Cardinals or Dodgers-Giants. But it should be very entertaining. And that's the way rivalries get started.
"They're an enterprising club. They do a lot of things, most of all, they don't quit. They have some fine, young talent over there," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of the Marlins, after his team had polished off the Red Sox in the ALCS.
There was a long time, from 1962 through 1995, when Yankee fans used to escape the cold of the northeast winter and make their way to Ft. Lauderdale, where their beloved boys used to hold Spring Training just down the road from where the Marlins play now.
In fact, next week, the World Series will move from the national baseball treasure known as Yankee Stadium to Pro Player Stadium, located in South Florida and better known, well, as a football stadium.
Folks in New York are recognized as bright baseball fanatics who will pack the park and always let the Yankees' corner outfielders catch any high foul pops near the stands. They will do whatever they can to help their boys win yet another title.
Marlins fans, on the other hand, get a bad rap.
They've stayed away in droves the last few years, yes, ever since original Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga ordered the dismantling of the 1997 World Series championship team.
But you can bet your leftover Disney dollars that there will be plenty of Marlins fans -- probably about 60,000 -- on hand in South Florida next week to show how much they appreciate having an owner who wants to win.
Marlins managing general partner Jeffrey Loria, by the way, was an all-city baseball player at Stuyvesant High in New York City.
And he won't be the only one of this series' teal-wearers who, most likely, once sported pinstripes. Marlins president David Samson was raised in New York City, and Marlins VP for Player Personnel Dan Jennings used to pitch in the Yankees' minor leagues. Marlins broadcaster Tommy Hutton called Yankees games from 1987-89.
And, of course, everyone remembers that Mike Lowell grew up on the Yankees' farm before he was sent straight down I-95 on Feb. 1, 1999. But, pop quiz, who were those players the Marlins gave up for Lowell?
Time's up! The answer: left-hander Ed Yarnall and right-handers Mark Johnson and Todd Noel.
Because of their history and payroll, the Yankees will be favored.
They do lead the all-time series with the Marlins, 8-6. The Marlins have won five of nine in South Florida, while the Yankees have won four of five in New York. The teams are tied, 2-2-1, in five different series. The last time they met was in 2001, when the Marlins won two of three at Pro Player Stadium.
The Yankees were an MLB-best 13-5 in Interleague this year, while the Marlins were 9-6 in Interleague games.
But most of those games were in June, and the Marlins looked very different in June. That was before the Marlins got Jeff Conine back or had Ugueth Urbina to nail down victories. And Miguel Cabrera was just a struggling 20-year-old barely into his Major League career.
Also, it wasn't until the end of the season that Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis and Mark Redman got to pitch in order.
The Yankees, of course, will be trying to win their 27th World Series title and fifth in eight seasons. The Marlins, still trying to establish tradition, will be going for their second championship in seven seasons.
Who will win? It might just take seven games to find out.
And, best of all -- no chatter about curses.
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.