When asked about the Atlanta Braves, Gary Sheffield refused to comment and Alex Fernandez responded with several profanities.
Could it be that the Florida Marlins are a bit tense with the Braves coming to town? The only remaining charter members of the Marlins, Jeff Conine and Alex Arias, acknowledged that this week’s four-game series is the biggest in franchise history.
“We don’t have anything to compare it to,” said Conine, who has played in plenty of meaningless August games since 1993.
“This can make or break our season,” Arias said. “We need to win three of four.”
Florida, considered by many to be Atlanta’s most formidable challenger in the National League, trails the Braves by 7-1/2 games in the East. The Marlins’ 9-9 record since the All-Star break made the series that much more imperative for them.
“It’s the biggest series we’ve ever had,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “It’s more important for us than it is for Atlanta, because they’re ahead of us.”
Dombrowski, Sheffield and manager Jim Leyland have all spoken recently of the need for the Marlins to enjoy the first pennant race in their five-year history. But several players strained to downplay the importance of the Braves series.
“I’m not talking about the Braves, because they’re not here yet,” Sheffield said.
“The media and the fans make it a bigger deal than it is,” outfielder Moises Alou said.
“A series against Cincinnati is just as important,” said Fernandez, cursing to emphasize his point.
Canseco nixes Yankees
Oakland Athletics slugger Jose Canseco said he doesn’t want to play for the New York Yankees.
“Absolutely not,” said Canseco, who was hitting .236 with 21 home runs and 67 runs batted in entering today’s game at Yankee Stadium.
Canseco and teammate Mark McGwire, who wouldn’t talk to reporters before Wednesday’s 7-0 loss to the Yankees, have been the subject of considerable trade speculation. Major League Baseball’s trading deadline is 11:59 p.m. New York time tomorrow. After that, players must clear waivers before being traded.
Dodgers get go-ahead
The Los Angeles Dodgers were given permission by major league baseball’s ownership committee to draft an agreement with Fox Group for the sale of the team to Rupert Murdoch.
Any prospective sale must be approved by major league team owners.
Owner Peter O’Malley announced in January that his family planned to sell the team they have controlled since 1950.
Realignment not yet fact
Baseball realignment came no closer to reality during a 4-hour meeting by a committee studying plans to readjust the leagues as early as next season.
Acting commissioner Bud Selig promised, however, that the issue will stay in the forefront.
“I will keep pushing this very aggressively,” he said.
“There are a lot of different ideas. Every club has a different thought process, but yet the feeling about realignment is very positive,” he said after the 12-member realignment committee met. “Each plan has a lot of variations to it and it gets complicated. Clearly nothing has been decided.”
Selig said the next step would be another meeting of the committee, perhaps by conference call early next week.
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