Welcome to the Dwork On Sports blog. This is a place where I’ll cover all things related to South Florida sports, with a steady combination of facts and opinions while ultimately keeping a close eye on anything and everything related to our local teams.
Watching the Miami Marlins break out of their early season slump and start winning games on an almost daily basis has been a lot of fun.
There haven’t been many winning seasons for Marlins fans to enjoy over the years but early signs indicate that this season could be different.
This post isn’t about the 2015 Marlins though.
One of the heroes of the aforementioned winning seasons has emerged as a new MLB manager and it seemed like a good opportunity to re-live some of those awesome memories.
In each of the franchise’s two World Series winning seasons, the Marlins received a major boost from a couple of rookies.
In 2003 it was Miguel Cabrera at the plate and Dontrelle Willis on the mound.
In 1997, pitcher Livan Hernandez was a national story after defecting from Cuba and signing with the Marlins as a 20-year-old prospect. A year later he was breaking major league playoff records while helping then-Florida reach the World Series.
Another rookie played an integral part in that championship season, especially in the playoffs.
Acquired by the Marlins in July of ’97, 27-year-old rookie Craig Counsell became the team’s starting second baseman almost immediately.
He’s best remembered for a pair of plays in Game 7 of that year’s World Series. First, he hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Then in the bottom of the eleventh inning, Counsell scored the series-winning run on a base hit by shortstop Edgar Renteria.
The image of Counsell touching home plate and leaping into the air is one that I’m sure has been etched in Marlins’ fans memories ever since.
Following his eventful rookie campaign, Counsell went on to have a long MLB career that lasted until his retirement in 2011.
He must have left a pretty strong impression on the final team he played for, the Milwaukee Brewers, as they announced on Monday that Counsell has been named the team’s new manager.
Recently, Counsell has been serving as a special assistant to Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin. He has a hometown connection to the Brewers, growing up in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, which is about 10 miles away from Miller Park.
I hope Marlins fans young and old will join me in wishing Counsell nothing but the best as he starts this new chapter in his baseball career.
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