10/18/2003 5:57 PM ET
Contrasts collide at World Series
Upstart Marlins take on venerable Yankees
NEW YORK -- For all they've done and seen during their amazing postseason run, the Florida Marlins haven't experienced anything quite like the environment they'll step into tonight, playing in Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of the World Series.
Then again, the Yankees haven't seen anything quite like the Marlins, either.
The upstart Marlins take the grandest stage of all when they take on the 26-time world champion Yankees in a World Series fraught with contrasts -- the predominantly young team against the veteran-rich team, the small-market team against the biggest of the big-market teams, the 11-year-old franchise against the 100-year-old franchise.
It all gets started at 8:08 p.m. ET, when Yankees left-hander David Wells throws the first pitch of the 100th anniversary World Series. Wells will be matched against Florida right-hander Brad Penny.
After rain showers soaked the field Friday afternoon and evening, the Yankee Stadium field appears in perfect playing condition following a sunny day in the Bronx. Temperatures were in the high 50s around two hours before the game and are expected to dip close to 50 during the game.
While the Yankees took batting practice, there was perhaps a Yankee Stadium first beyond the left-field fence: Several Marlins players stood in their bullpen playing hacky sack.
When the baseball game begins, an intriguing matchup of very different teams will take center stage.
The Marlins bring with them an aggressive style the Yankees haven't had to face this year, with top two hitters Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo leading a running game that was far and beyond the best in the game this season. That style, along with a balanced lineup and performances like the two-hit shutout in the NLCS by 23-year-old right-hander Josh Beckett, helped earn them the NL Wild Card berth and pushed them through the first two postseason series.
The Yankees, meanwhile, have much the same cast of characters as they've had in the run that has seen them reach the World Series five of the last seven years, winning four. With Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams leading a core of Yankees who have known nothing but World Series contention in their careers, the Yankees are the epitome of postseason mystique.
The Yankees will be put to the test early after their emotional ALCS Game 7 victory over the archrival Red Sox on Thursday night. New York had to use three of its four starters to get through the clincher against Boston, including Wells -- who pitched two-thirds of an inning Thursday, allowing a home run to David Ortiz.
But Wells (2-0, 1.76 ERA postseason; 15-7, 4.14 regular season) is the freshest starter available for this one. Wells -- who at 40 years, 151 days old will become the oldest pitcher ever to start a Game 1 of the World Series -- has contributed two excellent starts this postseason. He won the Game 4 clincher of the Yankees' Division Series win over Minnesota and Game 5 of the ALCS vs. the Red Sox at Fenway Park to improve to 10-2 in his postseason career.
Penny (1-1, 10.24 postseason; 14-10, 4.13 ERA regular season) will be making his first start in 10 days, having pitched out of the bullpen at the end of the Marlins' NLCS victory over the Cubs. He was hit for seven earned runs on seven hits in just two innings in his Game 2 start at Wrigley Field, but he also earned the Game 7 victory with a scoreless fourth inning.
The Marlins are taking advantage of the American League rules by putting veteran Jeff Conine in the designated-hitter spot, moving 20-year-old phenom Miguel Cabrera over to left field and inserting Juan Encarnacion in right.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By John Schlegel / MLB.com