The Marlins on Friday clinched their first playoff berth in 17 years with a 4-3 10-inning win against the Yankees, sending feelings of nostalgia about their last fleeting stretch of MLB relevance pulsing through people involved with that group.
Miami (then branded as the Florida Marlins) beat New York in the World Series in 2003. It possessed a young, undeniably cool roster back then led by the likes of Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett and Miguel Cabrera.
Willis, aka D-Train, the spirited rookie of that title-winning season, followed the Marlins’ clinch on Friday and offered a passionate message to the new generation of Miami players.
“Proud of you boys,” Willis said. “You did it, man. Had your boy Train stressed out but you guys did it. Hats off to everybody in the organization. . . . Love y’all.”
Willis made the All-Star team as a rookie in 2003, going 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA and two complete-game shutouts. His unorthodox windup and infectious smile made him a fan favorite, not only in his first MLB season but also throughout his Marlins tenure. He was an impressive hitter, too, batting .244 in his career and delivering a three-hit game against the Giants in the 2003 NLDS.
The 2020 Marlins improved to 30-28 with their win Friday. They are a victory away from clinching their first winning record since 2009.
Miami has won the World Series in both playoff appearances in franchise history. The club wasn’t supposed to advance very far in 1997 or 2003, either.
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