1997: the year of Dustiny. The Giants, who before the season were not expected to make any noise in the division, instead opted to make lots of noise in the division and ended up winning it. Their opponent in the first round of the playoffs: the wild card Marlins. Giants fans were optimistic; the team had made the playoffs for the first time in eight years. During the season, when they had to win two big games against the Dodgers, well, Barry Bonds did a pirouette and Brian Johnson raised his arms in triumph. They had heart. They had talent. They felt like a team of, yes, Dustiny.
They got swept by the Marlins. They lost each of the first two games in the bottom of the ninth, and the third one, the only game in San Francisco even though the Giants had home field advantage, was decided on a Devon White grand slam, and the Marlins won 6-2. After the dizzying high of an exciting regular season run, the playoffs seemed like a crushing negation of everything that team had been for six months. Thanks, Marlins.
2003: the year of leading the division wire-to-wire. The Giants, led by Barry Bonds and Jason Schmidt, were in first place after Game 1 of the season. The Giants were in first place after Game 161* of the season. They were in first place after all the games in between. They won 100 games and had an excellent team.
The Marlins beat them in four games in the NLDS. Schmidt was excellent in Game 1, but Sidney Ponson and Joe Nathan combined to cost them Game 2, and Nathan’s performance in this series is a big part of why the Giants shipped him out of town, so THANKS FOR THAT TOO, MARLINS. In Game 3, the offense couldn’t really get going against Mark Redman and Jose Cruz Jr. couldn’t really catch an easy fly ball, and, of course, we all remember J.T. Snow being extremely thrown out at the plate to end Game 4 and the series. It was the opposite of 1997, but still terrible: a memorably bad series to cap off an undramatically great season.
2011: the year of this thing I’m about to talk about that sucked.
In 2011, Scott Cousins unnecessarily plowed over Buster Posey at home plate and broke his leg. Scott Cousins, at the time, was on the Marlins. It was not an illegal play, but it was a bad one, and because of that, Major League Baseball started thinking very seriously about whether to change the rules on catcher collisions, and THEN THEY DECIDED NOT TO FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS AND ONLY CHANGED THEIR MINDS WHEN ALEX AVILA, THE SON OF TIGERS GM AL AVILA, GOT INJURED IN A PLAYOFF GAME, but that’s neither here nor there.
To Giants fans, Cousins has become a villain for the play. That’s it. I don’t have some counterfactual about why he shouldn’t be one. When you do bad things and they have bad results, you’re a villain. Sorry, Scott. Sorry for your bad decision.
Cousins kicked off the Death Fog Era, where it seemed like some Giant would get injured every year while they were playing the Marlins. Posey was first, off course, but the next year, Pablo Sandoval broke his hamate bone against the then-Florida Marlins. The next year is a little sketchy, but Angel Pagan re-injured himself in a minor league rehab game when the Marlins were in San Francisco; sorry, but it’s site policy that that counts. Then finally, in 2014, where were the Giants when Marco Scutaro threw a ball in warm-ups that concussed Brandon Belt? That’s right. Miami. That’s the Marlins Death Fog, baby.
The Giants traded for Casey McGehee and not only was he a terrible hitter in general — he slashed .213/.275/.299 — but more specifically, he somehow managed to ground into 15 double plays in just 138 plate appearances. If he kept that pace up for 600 plate appearances, he would ground into 65 double plays, which would shatter the all-time record of 36.
Also, the Giants gave up Luis Castillo for McGehee. Castillo’s struggling this year, but he had a very promising 2017 for the Reds, and is exactly the kind of young player this team needs if they’re going to successfully complete the quick turnaround that the front office thinks they can do. But instead of him, the Giants got a few months of Casey McGehee being terrible.
In conclusion, the Casey McGehee trade did not work out for the Giants.
I want to take you back to late June 2015. The Giants, though their rotation has spent most of the year being either hurt or ineffective, are contending. They’re 42-35. Matt Duffy and Chris Heston are establishing themselves as franchise cornerstones for years to come. Most of the lineup has an OPS at or above .800. The team’s just a game and a half out of first place in the NL West, and they are about to go into Miami to face a Marlins team that, at 31-46, was not exactly making anyone scared.
The Giants got swept. Justin Bour homered in every game of that series, raising his season OPS from .770 to .836, and the Giants suffered one regular loss and two devastating losses. The first game of the series was a garden variety latter day Vogey start, a 6-inning, 4-run outing with old non-friend Mat Latos outdueling him. But in the next game, the Giants took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth, and it took exactly three batters for that 5-3 lead to become a 6-5 loss, courtesy of Bour. In the third game, both Matt Cain and Jose Fernandez returned from injury for their first starts of the year, and for four innings Cain had the better of it, which was an important emotional lift after two bad games.
Then Fernandez homered off Cain in the fifth, and not to be outdone, so did Bour, and a 3-1 lead turned into a 5-3 deficit, and all the emotions went the other way. It was an ugly way to finish being swept in an ugly series. That’s where it started. That’s the beginning of this new incarnation of the Marlins — the Marlins that don’t injure Giants bodies but instead their souls.
Now, the Giants did go 4-2 against the Marlins in 2016, so you could be forgiven for thinking that the Justin Bour series did not cause this malaise. But the feeling of Marlins-related doom persisted that year, and starting in 2017, Marlins-related doom became all that exists in the world. Last year, the Giants went 1-5 against the Marlins, including being swept in San Francisco, and were good at nothing in those games. Last week, the Giants blew 8 leads over the course of a 4-game series in Miami and went 1-3, with the one win taking 16 innings.
Nothing good will ever happen again when the Giants play the Marlins. Feel free to take a screenshot of the first six words of that sentence and Tweet it out with “2018 mood,” by the way. We’re here to provide all kinds of delightful content.
And finally, here’s one from December. The market developed slowly last offseason as teams waited to see where Giancarlo Stanton, feared dinger monster, would end up. The Giants and Cardinals had both submitted bids that the Marlins had accepted, and then it was just a waiting game to see which team he would waive his no-trade clause to go to. And in the end, like so many sitcom characters torn between two possible lovers, he said, “I choose me.”
Stanton declined to go to St. Louis, and then he declined to come to San Francisco. He claimed it was because neither team had won enough the previous year, but let’s be honest: it’s because he was a Marlin. The only good things the Marlins have ever done for the Giants (Robb Nen, Cody Ross) were because they were a bunch of damn cheapskates who, instead of running a professional baseball team, should’ve been working at Bud Selig’s used car lot, trying to upsell the customers on the clear coat. He was too infected with their cultural ethos of “Screw the Giants” to ever want to come here, too wrapped up in the organizational mandate to always, always make the Giants and their fans suffer.
The Marlins are a bad franchise, run badly so that rich people can get richer without effort, investment, or talent. The purpose of their existence is to cause you pain. This is what they are. This is what they have always been. Every year, they will come up with some fresh hell that we are all subjected to, and we will wonder why, and that question will never be answered.
But there is one question we can answer, and it’s one that Grant posed four years ago: Yes, Giants fans should still hate the Marlins. Thank you for your time.