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The Marlins are on the march

Youth and ignorance: a killer combination


On a day when baseball celebrated the opening of opulent Yankee Stadium, baseball's paupers continued their torrid start. The Florida Marlins swept the Braves with a 6-2 victory Thursday, improving to 8-1. That's the best record in the Majors and is tied for the best start in franchise history with the 1997 and 2004 teams.

As everyone knows, the Marlins have the lowest payroll in baseball, but they also have an impressive assemblage of talent. They lead the NL in runs per game. Their rotation -- Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, Andrew Miller, Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad -- is young but is more than getting the job done in the early going, as the Marlins trail only the Dodgers in team ERA. Of course, the rotation was expected to be pretty decent and having been fifth in runs scored last year, it's not totally shocking that they're hitting. What is surprising is that Florida has been playing excellent defense and getting lots of help from a bullpen that looked like a liability entering the season. They committed no errors in their sweep of Atlanta, and the bullpen pitched nine shutout innings. With the slow starts of the Mets and Phillies, what seems (at least to this Atlanta fan) as a mastery of the Braves, and the fact that they haven't even gotten a chance to beat up on Washington yet, one can't help but think we're in for another surprisingly strong year from the young Marlins. And boy, are they young:

Emilio Bonifacio was in Class A and 21 years old, playing for the Lancaster Jethawks, and he earnestly asked his manager a question. "Skip, did you ever play in the big leagues?" Bonifacio inquired. "Yeah, a little bit," said Brett Butler, a veteran of 17 seasons, 2,375 career hits and 558 career steals. "If you listen, I can show you some things that can help you."

I feel incredibly old at the moment.