We were on the top of the world, and getting everybody's attention. Regis Philbin inserted the Marlins into his daily Senile Round-up. Philadelphia sportswriters were warning fans that the Phillies had more than the Mets to worry about. "They're not a mirage and they're not going away," wrote the Daily News' Paul Hagen. "They will be a factor this season."
Josh Johnson was untouchable. John Baker was suddenly the best-hitting catcher in baseball. Emilio Bonifacio, God bless his soul, could not miss.
The Marlins were 11-1, and off to the fastest start in franchise history.
Ah, for it to be last week again.
Last night, the Marlins lost their seventh straight game, getting smacked up by the Mets, 7-1. The game was over by the first inning. Hanley Ramirez left after being hit in the wrist by a pitch (he's day-to-day) and the Mets scored six runs in the first off of starter Anibal Sanchez.
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The Marlins have now lost their last couple of games by a score of 3 to 20, and besides losses where closer Matt Lindstrom blew leads, the team has looked downright uncompetitive.
Regis aside, the Marlins' Behind the Music-esque downward tumble hasn't surprised many in the baseball world. The young team wasn't expected to contend, and the holes that have shown themselves in the last week were well-known coming into the season. The struggling Ricky Nolasco leads a sub-par rotation, and when Dan Uggla (who's been slumping) and Han-Ram don't hit for a night, it can be nearly impossible for the rest of the line-up to fill the scoreboard. And while most of the bullpen has been unexpectedly strong- and was as sturdy as Teflon during the hot start- Lindstrom is giving shell-shocked Marlins fans nightmares involving Kevin Gregg.
That said, we are 100-percent sure that the Marlins will one day win another game, and 46-percent confident that they will maintain a little of that early-season magic and contend in the National League East. They're a team with a ton of raw talent, not unlike the Tampa Bay Devil Rays two years ago: similarly, they might need one more year to get it all together.