COMMENTARY - As a youngster growing up in South Florida, there wasn't major-league baseball. There were the Miami Orioles, a minor-league team for the Baltimore organization, and that was about it. My love for baseball came from another source.
I remember sitting up at night with the transistor radio listening to Los Angeles Dodger games on WIOD, the AM station in Miami. Vin Scully would paint a masterful picture for me of what was happening on the diamond. I was hooked by his sound and the image in my head of balls and strike.
When my family moved to North Florida, we discover cable television, and with that I discovered the Chicago Cubs. Much to my delight there was afternoon baseball and once the school bell rang, I raced home to watch the Cubs lose on a regular basis.
As a writer, and someone who covers and likes watching the Marlins, other than Miami being in the playoffs themselves, this is the greatest time of year for me. While those of us in the media have an obligation to be objective and to remain neutral, we all would be lying to you if we said we didn't cheer for the teams we covered. That's what makes this game so special. And on a personal note, the fact that the two teams that I rooted for as a child are playing with a chance to go to the World Series, I feel like a kid all over again.
I wonder out loud at times whether fans who support the Marlins or the Dodgers or the Yankees are any other team, have a love for another organization? Does their love of baseball transcend to the postseason when teams like the Marlins or the Braves are eliminated from contention?
I have often said baseball is one of the sports where the name on the back of the jersey is just as important as the team the name plays for. It is the most polarizing sport in that statistics mean everything and player performance is vital. But for teams like Miami and Tampa and to a lesser extent, Colorado and Arizona, tradition is still being created. So when those teams are eliminated from playoff contention, do fans jump back on the bandwagon of the team they supported long before these teams played the game?
If there's any question whether this is right or wrong, let me be the first to say it's OK. If you're a true fan of the game you should support the teams that make the postseason. You don't just turn off your television set because Miami doesn't wind up in the wild-card or the fact that Miami is a limited after the first round of playoffs. I have been watching baseball since I was four years old, and in 40 years, I have never missed a postseason. Of course, it would be more magical if the Marlins were in the postseason, but that wasn't meant to be this year. To coin a common phrase, there's always next year. But no matter what happens, baseball remains king.
As the fan, there's no denying the excitement of a World Series.
Watching the playoffs this weekend has been as exciting a time for me as it has been in quite a while. I still root and cover the Marlins. I still want to see another championship pennant raised in Marlins Park. I still hope for success with the organization. But for now, regardless of who plays – it’s baseball, it's the National League Championship Series, and there's nothing greater to be a part of.
Until the Marlins are once again in the postseason and a trip to the World Series is on the line. Then, everything is perfect.