Sunday, July 25, 2021

Marlins And Padres History Runs Deep

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

If you’re a Baseball Historian, you’ll appreciate this story.

If you’re not a Baseball Junky, you’ll learn something.

Earlier this season, I wrote a column pertaining to the Baltimore/Miami Baseball connection when the Orioles played at Miami Stadium during Spring Training and had a Florida State League team as well.

Today, the focus shifts to the San Diego Padres.

From 1983-84, the Padres and Miami Marlins were connected in the Florida State League.

In 1983, three players went on to play MLB Baseball while another has been a coach.

Shortstop Paul Noce, Catcher Benito Santiago and Pitcher Gene Walter made it to the big leagues. 

Second Baseman Brian Butterfield has coached for six MLB teams dating back to 1994 and is currently active at the age of 63.

The Manager of the Marlins was Jim Breazeale and he guided the club to a 44-89 record.

The biggest prospect of the group is without a doubt, Santiago.

Santiago was a five-time MLB All-Star and he is a member of the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame.

He played for the Padres from 1986-1992. 

His next stop from 1993-1994 was with the Florida Marlins playing in Joe Robbie Stadium.

Santiago will always be part of a trivia question with the Florida Marlins as he hit the first home run in team history.

Santiago played in MLB Baseball from 1986-2005 for nine clubs and had a .263 average with 217 HR’s and 920 RBI. 

He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1987 with the Padres.

In 1984, The Miami Marlins team was managed by Steve Smith and it finished with a 64-74 mark.

The big name prospect that came from this squad was Lance McCullers Sr. 

He was nicknamed “Baby Goose” after former big league pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage.

McCullers played for the San Diego Padres from 1985-1988. 

His additional stops were with the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers. 

The 1992 season was his last as he would conclude his MLB career with a 28-31 record, with a 3.25 ERA with 442 strikeouts.

His son Lance McCullers Jr. is currently pitching for the Houston Astros.

Where does the time go?

It’s been 37 years since I saw these two teams being connected.

Today at loanDepotPark there were a lot of interesting storylines in the Marlins 9-3 win over the Padres on Jewish Heritage Day.

The Marlins faced five-time All-Star Yu Darvish and they roughed up the Japanese hurler for four runs and five hits in five innings. He yielded a pair of home runs to Deven Marrero and Brian Anderson. Darvish had six strikeouts and one walk.

We saw Manny Machado hit his 17th homer of the season to center field.

Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. drew cheers from the crowd, but had a quiet afternoon with one walk, one stolen base and he stuck out twice.

Shortstop Marrero had a fine afternoon as he amassed three hits and six total bases.

There were a total of five home runs in this game.

The Marlins had three. 

Marrero, Anderson and Lewis Brinson went deep for the fish.

Brian O’ Grady hit the Padres second round tripper of the game in the top of the ninth inning.

This turned out to be a bullpen day for Miami as the Marlins utilized seven pitchers.

Anthony Bender picked up the win and improved to 2-1.

With the MLB trade deadline on Friday, July 30, 2021, it appears that the crowd of 12,765 saw Starling Marte for the last time. 

The Centerfielder didn’t disappoint as he collected three hits, one RBI, one walk and two stolen bases. 

The Marlins split the four-game series with the Padres 2-2. 

The Marlins improved their record to 43-57 while San Diego dropped to 58-44.

They’ll have Monday off then travel to face the Baltimore Orioles for two games on July 27-28. 

Miami has another day off on Thursday July 29th before returning home for a three-game series vs the New York Yankees.

The Marlins travel to San Diego for a three game series August 9-11.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

To see his broadcasts, subscribe to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Memory Lane With The Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

There is nothing better than taking a trip down memory lane from time to time.

So this the perfect opportunity to do just that.

We all know that life and the sports world has been in flux since the COVID-19 outbreak turned our society upside down during the early part of 2020.

FaceTime and Zoom have emerged as the new trends of seeing your friends, family and conducting meetings.

When the Los Angeles Dodgers appeared on the Miami Marlins schedule during a time that I would be in South Florida and not traveling, there was no way that I wouldn’t attend at least one game on Thursday July 8, 2021.

During the years, I’ve experienced many great memories with both organizations. 

My first major interview was with the late Hall of Fame Dodgers Manager Tom Lasorda at the 1981 Baseball Winter Meetings in the Diplomat Hotel (Hollywood, FL).

Throughout the years, I’ve covered the Dodgers in Spring Training in Vero Beach, Florida (Dodgertown) and Arizona.

There have been no shortage of memories with the Marlins as I’ve documented all-season long.

What makes today’s game with the Marlins and Los Angeles so special is Miami’s Manager Don Mattingly used to manage the Dodgers.

But the big reason I’m here is to see a team that I watched play against the Milwaukee Brewers on March 11, 2020 in Glendale, AZ at their Camelback Ranch facility.

On that day, it was neat attending a pre-game press conference with the Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and I spent time with Alanna Rizzo, who covered the Dodgers. 

I met Alanna at the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Awards Luncheon in January of 2020.

The Dodgers defeated the Brewers 4-1 on that Cactus League Wednesday Night Game in the Valley of the Sun. 

The starting pitcher for the Dodgers was ace Clayton Keyshaw.

This was no ordinary game. There was inclement weather throughout the day and I wondered whether they would get the game in. 

They did.

Our planet was on pins and needles as COVID-19 was beginning to cause havoc in our society.

The reality is this Brewers contest turned out to be the last game of Spring Training as the COVID-19 cases continued to rise rapidly and MLB decided to shut things down. 

Cancellations throughout the sports world were piling up.

The NBA, NHL suspended their seasons while MLB’s would be reduced to a 60 game campaign. 

There would be no College World Series and March Madness. 

This list goes on and on.

I tried to talk My father-in-law to come to the game as we were going to buy him a ticket. 

Unfortunately, he wasn’t feeling well and never had a chance to see a Spring Training Game, flying in from Milwaukee, WI.

But that was then and this is now.

The Dodgers came to South Florida to face the Marlins at a crucial time from July 5-8. This four-game series was the most important one of the 2021 season for Miami.

The Marlins are in desperate need of momentum going into this weekend’s All-Star Break.

Will they be buyers or sellers at the July 30 trade deadline?

We’ll find out soon enough.

On Tuesday’s Media Availability Call with Mattingly, I asked the skipper how important this series was for his squad.

“It would be great to win at least three games and win the series.”

His team has responded to the challenge by defeating the Dodgers 5-4 on Monday, July 5, they won 2-1 in 10 innings on Tuesday, July 6 and on Wednesday, July 7, the bats came alive in a 9-6 triumph.

What Mattingly had hoped for did occur as the team did win three games, but it was unable to complete the four-game sweep.

Kershaw was scheduled to start on Thursday as he was placed on the 10-day Injured List with forearm inflammation but the injury will keep the southpaw out until after the All-Star Break. 

Kershaw had a 9-7 record with a 3.39 ERA over 106.1 innings.

The pitching match-up we ended up getting was Julio Urias (10-3) facing Miami’s Sandy Alcantara (5-7).

After yielding a lead off home run to Jazz Chisholm Jr. that went 446 feet to right-center field in the bottom of the first inning, Urias looked strong as he pitched seven innings, gave up five hits, and held the Marlins to one run while striking out nine, and yielding two walks and giving up just one run. 

The Dodgers used a balanced offensive attack and chased Alcantara after four innings for five runs to defeat Miami 6-1 in a game that lasted 3:05. 

A crowd of 12,031 watched the Dodgers improve to 54-34 while Miami dropped to 38-48.

Urias improved his record to 11-3 while Alcantara dropped to 5-8.

The big story of this contest is what took place off the field as the Marlins picked up Mattingly’s option for the 2022 season. 

GM Kim NG spoke to us during the bottom of the fourth inning. 

The video is at the bottom of this story.

Mattingly, 60, is the franchise’s longest-tenured and winningest skipper. He entered this game with a 345-446 mark, (.436) in six seasons.

After consecutive last place seasons from 2018-19, he was named 2020 National League Manager of the Year for leading the underdog Marlins to their first playoff berth since 2003. 

During that campaign, Miami dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak and 174 roster moves in a 60-game campaign.

During the video, I asked Ng a few questions but one of them was about the timing of the extension since Mattingly managed the Dodgers from 2011-2015, compiling a 446-363 record, including three straight NL West Division titles.

He became the 15th manager in Marlins history by signing a four-year deal in November 2015, then proceeded to sign a two-year contract extension with a mutual option for 2022 in September 2019.

The Marlins went 1-2 against the Atlanta Braves going into the All-Star Break and finished the first half of the season 39-50.

On Sunday, Pablo Lopez set a major league record by striking out the first nine hitters to start off a game leading the Marlins to a 7-4 win. 

Lopez set the mark on the one-year anniversary of his father’s death.

The 25-year old Lopez broke the mark of eight straight strikeouts to begin a game set by Jim Deshaies in 1986 and matched by Jacob deGrom in 2014 and German Marquez in 2018.

Lopez (5-5) threw 30 of his first 35 pitches for strikes. The Venezuelan began the day with 102 strikeouts over 95 innings in 18 starts this season.

Lopez gave up three runs in six innings after his sensational start and he didn’t strike out anyone else in his final three innings. He gave up five hits and walked two, with 65 of his 83 pitches for strikes.

Miami’s biggest contribution came from Jesus Aguilar, who had a three-run homer and had four RBI.

Darby Swanson hit his 14th and 15th homers for Atlanta.

A  crowd of 9,456 fans saw Lopez’s historic performance and there were 388 dogs on hand as part of the Miami Marlins first “Bark At The Park” promotion since 2019.

We’ll find out how the Marlins respond after the All-Star Break but at least one thing is for certain. Don Mattingly won’t have to worry about job security for the foreseeable future which suits me fine because I truly enjoy working with this classy manager!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Jumbo Shrimp Experience

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The Summer of 2021 will be like no other that I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime!

Aside from covering Miami Marlins games, there will be other baseball trips lined up so we’ll keep you posted.

The first one began the weekend of June 24-26 as we travelled to Jacksonville to promote the Miami Marlins AAA affiliate, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

My late friend and colleague David Levin would be doing cartwheels in heaven over this because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t know anything about the Jumbo Shrimp.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, there have been numerous challenges when it comes to covering sporting events as direct access has been eliminated and Zoom Calls have become the new norm.

As time goes on, hopefully we can get back to how things were and we can go about our business the old fashioned way, and that’s getting to know the newsmakers up close.

On this trip, it was great to see AAA Baseball in Jacksonville, FL. 

My photographer Candy Ebling and I did the best we could with what we had to work with.

It was great to see the enthusiasm of the fans of Jacksonville when the Jumbo Shrimp hosted the Durham Bulls. I was totally impressed with the atmosphere and watching this was a great reminder of how a town should support their local team and that’s what transpired. 

The energy in this ballpark was electric!

Before covering the Jumbo Shrimp, I’ve been to Jacksonville numerous times for Jaguars games. I’ve seen winning and losing seasons for the Jaguars and let me tell you, when this team starts having sustained success, TIAA Bank Stadium will be a huge home field advantage.

There was no shortage of rain as the tarps remained on the field most of the day but by the opening pitch, the field at 121 Financial Field was green and looked fantastic. Kudos to the grounds crew for their work.

What did we accomplish in Jacksonville?

The agenda was do some human interest videos.

On this trip, there was no player, coaches and manager access.

As a result, the focal point centered around Media and Public Relations Manager, Play-by-Play Broadcaster Scott Kornberg.

Scott’s hospitality on the trip was fantastic!

We did a video on the Miami Marlins-Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp working relationship.

We did another one on the History of Baseball in Jacksonville, Florida dating back to the days when the team was named the Suns. He showed us where the old Wolfson Park was which is now the Jaguars Practice Field.

Scott’s broadcast partner Matt Present spend time with us and we did a video on his dream to eventually reach the MLB in that role. Matt is a personable young guy and we wish him well.

Finally, John Vittas came to town. I met John when he was working for the now defunct Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay Rays Class A Affiliate of the Florida State League) and he came to town to visit his Maryland Terps pals. 

We did a short video on the Stone Crabs situation and his new job in Fort Myers with the Mighty Mussels. Vittas was the broadcaster for the Stone Crabs and is now doing it for the Mighty Mussels.

It’s a small world catching up with Vittas.

As I sum up the trip, I was very pleased with what we accomplished as we had an opportunity to enjoy baseball in Northern Florida but to also work with building our platform which is going to be centered around doing remote videos.

All of these videos can be seen on the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel. 

If you haven’t subscribed yet, it’s free so go ahead and do so as we have many great videos and podcasts ahead. 

Our next trip will be next week as we take our show on the road to Pensacola, Florida and we’re looking forward to working with the Miami Marlins AA Affiliate, the Blue Wahoos.

We’re extremely excited to work with these folks and build on the foundation that we built with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.


Inter-Miami, Recap Before International Break

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH This is the time of the year in sports where we begin to hit that slower period where the NBA Finals are complete, the N...