418,600, who cares?

Published 10:45 pm Thursday, September 4, 2008

It wasn’t that many weeks ago that the Florida Marlins were in the midst of the pennant race. Despite falling eight games out of the NL East, that the Marlins are anywhere near .500 with their payroll and preseason expectations should be an easy thing for fans, even a few fans, to get behind.

After all, this is not a dysfunctional franchise, at least in terms of wins and losses. How many other pro sports teams have two world titles in the last 11 years?

It is a dysfunctional baseball club only because it’s in Miami.

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On Wednesday, and yes it was an afternoon game, and yes I’m sure it was as hot as any other afternoon in southern Florida, but the Marlins drew a crowd estimated at 600. The official attendance, the number of tickets sold, went down as 11,211.

“I was way off,” said Florida pitcher Joe Nelson, as he was asked about the players and coaches being able to practically count the number of people in the stands.

“I had predicted 418,” said Nelson.

The Cubs have a playoff spot well in hand, so their recent five-game losing streak is no reason for concern. However, when it’s 99 years and counting between championships, and you throw in Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and heck, even Steve Bartman, Thursday’s news about Chicago ace Carlos Zambrano is reason to bring up the curse.

Zambrano’s had nagging injuries and missed a couple starts here and there throughout the summer, but an MRI on Thursday showed tendinitis and inflammation in his right, his pitching, shoulder. Zambrano got a shot and hopes to be back by next week. In his last six starts, he’s made it through five innings twice.

Milwaukee’s ace, C.C. Sabathia, has been the opposite of Zambrano. He’s set to start tonight for the Brewers and looking to go to 10-0 since being traded to the Brewers who are 4.5 games behind Chicago, but 4.5 ahead of Philadelphia for the wild card spot.

If the Brewers reach October, and Sabathia continues along the lines of 9-0 with a 1.43 ERA and six complete games in 11 starts, which other pitcher in the NL could claim to have a larger impact on his team this season? Does the Cy Young equate to the same thing as the Most Valuable Pitcher? If it does, Sabathia should win it even if he’s been a Brewer for just three months.

In the AL, Cleveland’s been out of the playoff race all year. Does that take away Cliff Lee’s claim to the Cy Young. Lee’s 20-2. Anaheim closer Francisco Rodriguez is closing in on Bobby Thigpen’s saves record of 57. Only Anaheim’s huge lead in the AL West might stop Rodriguez.

A Cy Young winner usually doesn’t come from a team way out of the race, and a reliever has always overcome high hurdles to win it. One of those unwritten rules will have to broken this year.