Marlins Hater For Life - Or Until They Stink Again

For a long time, the Mets and Braves have been the most hated rivals of the Phillies. Now, with a World Series ring to their credit and a constant beating of the Phils, the Marlins have become public enemy number one around these parts.

On July 1, 2001, walking out of the Vet felt magical.

Beautiful Sunday game, Phils beat the Marlins 8-1 for Nelson "Figgy Smalls" Figueroa's first win. It was the improbable -- an ever-so-rare five-game sweep. It came at a time when the Phillies needed it the most, after getting trounced by Atlanta earlier in the week.

The Phillies owned the Marlins back then. The Good Ol' Days, as I like to call them. When the Phils simply turned a switch to beat the Marlins without breaking a sweat.

To top it off on that gorgeous Sunday, my season ticket buddy Big Daddy was so jazzed he celebrated by chugging a three-quarters-full beer someone left a couple rows behind us in section 248. It actually had a piece of popcorn in it and had been lying out in the 90-degree heat for God knows how long. For this disease-dodging feat of manliness, he earned $2 from my brother and me.

"I woulda done it for free," he said then, and still says now when the story comes up.

The parking lot was electric. We danced on our car - I still have the scrapes on my trunk to prove it. A five-game sweep! Others joined in as we blared our horn and mocked the Tomahawk Chop to oncoming traffic, as the Phils were headed to Atlanta for a first-place showdown.

The Phils used to beat the Marlins all the time. ALL THE TIME! I actually liked the Marlins then -- young, fun and as harmless as a summer breeze.

Now, I hate them. I hate them worse than the Mets. Yes, I just said that, and I'll go so far as to say it again -- I hate them worse than the Mets. Hate them, hate them, hate them.

These days, they're harder to bring down than the Terminator. Out hit them? Forget it, they'll get timely hits and draw walks and steal bases and catch all the breaks.

Out pitch them? Never mind, they'll wait and wait and send the game to extra innings and scratch and claw until you realize you've been duped into thinking the Phillies are going to beat them.

And it doesn't happen.

Just picture Ferris Bueller's principal Ed Rooney here -- nine times. That's how many straight times the Marlins have beaten the Phillies.

They're just plain annoying. It's gotten to the point where the announcers have stopped trying to paint a rosy picture when the Marlins start scoring.

On Comcast's Thursday broadcast, Larry Anderson pointed out the good side was that the Phillies lost 11 of 13 the Dodgers in '83, then beat them in the NLCS.

Umm, this was the fourth inning. Admitting defeat in the fourth inning - it's come to this.

Alex Gonzalez did his best Manny Ramirez impersonation Thursday, believing Brett Myers was throwing at him at a fastball that got away from the 23-year-old pitcher.

Maybe it didn't "just get away" from him - but it wasn't really that close.

So now I hate Alex Gonzalez. And I hate Chad Fox, for his showboating last season and already this season. And I hate Josh Beckett, because he's good and young and he'll be clobbering the Phillies for years. Miguel Cabrera for the same reason.

And I hate Jack McKeon for never playing Abraham Nunez, one of my favorite young players. And because he's old. And because Rob Dibble hates him, and well, that's good enough for me, because let's face it, Rob Dibble is cool.

Oh, Armando Benitez, can never be forgotten. The one Marlin who was both a Met and a Marlin? That's not the best lineage. Plus, I'm not too crazy about the Orioles, who he came up with.

Let's see, who else do I hate? Ooo, ooo, Jeff Conine. He'd hit the Phillies with one arm and standing on his head.

And let's face it, how can you not hate Luis Castillo and Juan Pierre if you're playing against them? They remind me of gnats constantly buzzing around my head. Chris Wheeler said it best Thursday - every time you look up, it seems one of them is on base. Then they steal, then they score, then I shake my head and wonder why the Phillies can't get these guys out.

OK, it's tough to hate Mike Lowell, one of the feel-good stories of the decade, beating cancer the way he did. But, umm, forget it, I hate him. He's turning himself into a Phillie killer too.

Hee Seop Choi? Well, I don't mind him - yet. But he is playing first base, which means he'll probably take over for Derrek Lee in wearing out Phillie pitching, so I'll take a pro-active approach and start hating him now.

If I've forgotten anyone on the Marlins, I apologize. But I hate them too. Loathe them, in fact, for reason Number One - they've got a ring and the Phillies don't.

So color me green with envy. But until the Phils get a five-game sweep of them again and Big Daddy drinks a full discarded beer, I will continue to hate the Marlins.

Worse than the Mets. And that's saying something.

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