Sunday, February 17, 2013

February 17- Florida Marlins

Believe it or not, I tend to be a smartass from time-to-time. I know, I know, shocker, right!? And to be honest, of all the hats I own, this particular Florida Marlins hat brings out the most sinister of qualities buried deep in the recesses of my soul. Mwahahahahaha!!! Want proof? As you’ll learn from all of these New Era Caps, or even my tattoos, I love talking about the lesser-known, oddball stories that have taken place in baseball. 2012 was definitely a prime year for me, and it all started when we went to the head office of Major League Baseball within the first week of being in New York for the MLB Fan Cave. We were told to wear dress-casual attire; however, since I was about to head into the lion’s den I decided to class it up quite a bit and wore a three-piece suit. In keeping with my daily hat habit I opted to roll with a hat that “matched” my outfit… this one.

Now, most people were under the impression that I had chosen this hat because the colors complimented the suit I was wearing. The real story behind why I wore this hat is because 1. I hated that Jeff Loria changed the Marlins logo/colors. 2. It was a silent protest to MLB to let them know that I will stand by my convictions. Oh, and in case you wondering, the suits of MLB made sure to let me know that I couldn’t wear Florida Marlins gear any day that I was in the Fan Cave in order to keep up appearances with Jeff Loria’s wishes.

I declined to adhere to that rule. Like I said, I stand by my convictions.

This hat lasted the entire run of the Florida Marlins from 1993 through its unfortunate demise at the end of the 2011 season. The team saw 11 managers take the helm while only two of them, Jim Leyland and Jack McKeon, took the team to the Promised Land in 1997 and 2003 respectively. A slew of All-Stars and future Hall of Famers came and went, much like hired guns of the Old West, or… in the case of the results of winning both World Series, the owner’s built up a high caliber team, won a championship and auctioned off their players in an attempt to line their pockets with extra cash. Moneyball at its finest.

I think you’ll all agree on all of my choices for marking this beast up. And just so you know, I threw the numbers down in order of relevancy.

#19- It wouldn’t make a lot of sense if I left Jeff Conine off of this, or any of my Marlins caps. Conine is one of THREE guys to be a member of both World Series teams in ’97 and ’03. In 1997 Conine played in 151 games and was the primary first baseman on into the playoffs. What’s most interesting about Conine is that ’97 was his worst career year offensively for the Marlins as he went .242/17/61; however, then manager Jim Leyland opted to keep him in for every day duties. The three best years of his career came during his first three full years in the league (1993-1995). In ’93 Conine finished in third place for the Rookie of the Year Award; however, his first season in the league was in back in 1990 when he took the field for nine games with the Kansas City Royals. ’91 was spent in AAA and ’92 only saw him coming in for 28 games with the Royals. In 1994 and 1995 Conine cracked the Top 25 in MVP voting after hitting at least .304 with at least 18 home runs and 82 RBI in each of those seasons. Conine found himself back in Kansas City for the 1998 season before moving on to the Baltimore Orioles from 1999 though the All-Star break in 2003 when he was sent back to the Marlins. This time; however, he wore #18 as some up-and-comer named Mike Lowell had taken #19 at the start of the 2000 season.

#1- Luis Castillo is the second member of the All-Florida Marlins squad. Castillo’s first year in baseball was with the Marlins in 1996, but wore the #34 in all 41 games he played in. At the start of the 1997 Castillo opted to change his number, hoping for better fortune and more playing time. Castillo platooned at second base with former Oakland Athletic, and current Marin County Sheriff’s Deputy Kurt Abbott. Castillo didn’t see a single second of action in the postseason that year, but still got a ring for his service throughout the season. In 2003 Castillo’s presence became more well-known as the every day second baseman throughout the regular season and playoffs. Besides the two rings, Castillo won three Gold Gloves (all with the Marlins) from 2003-05, made three All-Star appearances (2002-05 and 2005) and finished his Marlins career with a solid .293 average.

#38- I decided to roll with #38, but could have gone with #33 as well as Rick Helling wore each number throughout his career with the Marlins; however, like Castillo is 1997, Helling didn’t see any action in the playoffs, which had more to do with being traded to the Texas Rangers around the trade deadline. But, he still got a ring. In 2003 he found himself back on the Marlins, once again as a trade deadline addition from the Baltimore Orioles. Helling saw action out of the bullpen during the playoffs, but got shelled during every appearance. Either way, he got two rings out of the deal.

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