"They hate us more than any team in baseball. Right now, we’re their favorite team."
~Cody Ross, Marlins Outfielder
"It’s from a mixtape Chase Utley just sent me," Scott Olsen said as Alfredo–always one to get into the spirit of things–danced cheek-to-cheek with assistant trainer Mike Kozak.
There has been an eerie shift in the Marlins’ universe of late, and the music isn’t all that has changed. Deliveries of flowers, chocolates, and giant teddy bears have streamed into the clubhouse since last week, and nearly every inch of space is covered with cards, boxes of Godiva candies, and bouquets of roses.
"It’s standing room only in here," said Dontrelle Willis, sidestepping a pile of heart-shaped boxes, "Uh, hold on. I just got another text message from Barajas. Please please please forgive me, Mr. Willis. Pretty please, with a cherry on top. Love, Rod."
So who has suddenly got it bad for the Fish? None other than our sniveling NL East rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies.
It’s no secret that there has been little love lost between the Phillies and Marlins over the past several seasons, so why the sudden turn-around? To put it very simply, the Phillies are 2.5 games behind the Mets in the division. If the Marlins can manage to play half-decent baseball over the next ten days, the Phillies’ chances of making the post-season will greatly increase. So for this week at least, the Fish are Philadelphia’s new best friends.
Isn’t it lovely to be needed?
Sure it is. But even lovelier than being needed is being able to mock mercilessly once the Phillies are eliminated from both the division and the wildcard. I, for one, will not be swayed by any amount of last-minute good will from our evil NL East rivals. Would I go as far as to encourage the Marlins to tank against the Mets this week? Absolutley not. Just play like you’ve been playing, fellas, and the rest will take care of itself.
That only leaves one tiny problem– what to do with all those gifts.
"We’re sending them to the Nats," Scott Olsen said, "except for the chocolate-covered cherries; those are mine."
The flowers and confections are being FedEx-ed to RFK Stadium, where the Phils begin a four-game series with the Nationals tonight. I, for one, can think of no fate worse than a post-season that includes the Philadelphia Phillies, and can only hope the Nationals will play with as much annoying fervor as they did when they faced the Marlins last.
For now, though, let’s enjoy the fake friendship.