Delgado picks team that 'has a chance to win'

MIAMI -- Carlos Delgado is willing to stand up for his
beliefs -- or, in his case, not stand up.

At his introductory news conference Thursday with the Florida
Marlins, Delgado said he'll continue to not stand up this season
during the playing of "God Bless America."

An opponent of the war in Iraq, Delgado refused to stand when
"God Bless America" was played last season at games involving his
Toronto Blue Jays. Instead, he would stay on the bench or go into
the dugout tunnel.

"I wouldn't call it politics, because I hate politics,"
Delgado said Thursday after finalizing his $52 million, four-year
contract. "The reason why I didn't stand for 'God Bless America'
was because I didn't like the way they tied 'God Bless America' and
9-11 to the war in Iraq in baseball.

"I say God bless America, God bless Miami, God bless Puerto
Rico and all countries until there is peace in the world."

Marlins officials, who gave Delgado the richest per-season
contract in the team's 12-year history, made no objection to his
war protest.

"The Marlins don't support it, and we don't not support it,"
team president David Samson said. "He's an adult. The club's
position is that what he does is up to him."

Florida is mostly interested in Delgado producing runs the way
he did with Toronto, where he hit at least 30 homers each of the
past eight seasons. He's the kind of hitter the Marlins have long
coveted -- a left-handed slugger capable of altering the balance of
power in the NL East. He's also a box-office draw who boosted
season-ticket sales at least fivefold this week.

The Marlins won out in the bidding over Texas, Baltimore and the
New York Mets. Delgado wasn't surprised by the fervor with which he
was pursued.

"What do you think I am, chopped liver?" he said with a grin.

Texas offered $48 million, then withdrew. The Mets offered $52
million and the Orioles $48 million.

"It wasn't that I came to the Marlins over the Mets. We were
talking to a few different teams. It seems like the media made the
Mets a bigger deal (than) what it actually was," he said. "I
think this is the best fit for me to have a chance to win. And the
fact that it's nice and warm here, the fact that it's only two
hours from Puerto Rico, yeah, it is very nice as well, it's

His news conference took place at the Marlins' stadium in the
Miami Dolphins locker room, and for a change the mood in the room
was jovial. Among those in attendance were manager Jack McKeon and
three of Delgado's new teammates -- Mike Lowell, Al Leiter and
Jeff Conine.

As usual, McKeon drew the biggest laugh. He has lobbied for a
left-handed power hitter ever since becoming the Marlins' manager
in 2003.

"Jack, I guess now you know you've got the left-handed bat you
want," owner Jeffrey Loria said.

"It's about time," McKeon responded with a playful grumble.

One factor influencing Delgado's choice of teams: He has yet to
reach the postseason, while the Marlins own two World Series titles
since 1997. The slugger said he noticed Loria's enormous 2003
championship ring.

"How can I miss it?" Delgado said. "He says he's going to
make next year's bigger. ... This ballclub has a very, very good
chance to make it to the playoffs. After being somewhere else for
10 years and not having the opportunity to smell the playoffs, I
wanted to put myself on a team that had a chance to win."

During negotiations with the free agent, teams raised the issue
of Delgado's stance regarding the Iraq war, said his agent, David
Sloane. It wasn't an obstacle to a deal with any club because
Delgado was willing to follow team policy regarding "God Bless
America," Sloane said.

"He didn't like the politicization of baseball making use of
the song," Sloane said. "But he told me, 'I will never do
anything to place myself above my teammates.' If you have a policy
that everybody has to be on the top step, he'll be on the top

The Blue Jays had no such policy, and neither do the Marlins.

Even Toronto teammates who disagreed with Delgado accepted his
right to refuse to rise for the song. Conine predicted there will
be little reaction from Delgado's new teammates.

"That's an opinion of his, and you have to respect that,"
Conine said. "He's man enough to stand by it. I don't think
there's going to be one thing said or one ill thought in the

While Delgado doesn't make a public show of his protest, he was
the target of scattered jeers when he played last summer at Yankee
Stadium, the only park in the majors where "God Bless America"
has been played during every game since the Sept. 11 attacks.

But he said reaction to his stance has been mostly supportive.

"Probably 90 percent of the people I've talked to say they
agree with that," he said. "I don't do stuff so people agree with
me. But it's always nice to get some sort of support."