CHICAGO (AP) -- The Florida Marlins did their best to create a
homey atmosphere -- their mascot danced on the field, their P.A.
announcer did the lineups, they even wore white pants.
The hurricanes that have been hitting Florida are brutal, and from a baseball perspective it's brutal for the Florida Marlins to have to play half of a five-game home series this week at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago (home of the White Sox). With the approach of Hurricane Ivan, MLB decided to shift the first two games of the Marlins-Expos series from Miami to Chicago, where the Marlins played a weekend series vs. the Cubs.
For the Expos, it's business as usual. They're rumored to be headed to Virginia and they've played home games in Puerto Rico, so they're used to playing home games away from home. But the Marlins are in the thick of the wild-card race. It's tough to give up home games when you're in a pennant race.
It will be interesting to see how many Chicago fans show up for the Marlins series. And how many Marlins fans will book flights from Florida to Chicago?
People are trying to get out Florida, but I don't think they're trying to get that far away.
For more from Tony Gwynn and a host of other analysts and writers, check out all that ESPN.com's Insider has to offer.
Chased out of Florida by Hurricane Ivan, the Marlins staged an
eighth-inning rally Monday to beat the Montreal Expos in a strange
setting at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Yeah, you got to feel like we're at home, even when we're in a
different city. We still want to get back home to our houses and
hopefully Ivan won't cause any more havoc," catcher Paul Lo Duca
said after the Marlins scored six runs in the eighth and beat the
"It was a little weird early but once you get on the field,
everything is fine, you just go back to playing baseball," Lo Duca
"You miss your crowd and you miss going home right now. Now we
go back to the hotel an hour away. That's a little difficult."
Florida, two games behind wild-card leading San Francisco, will
play the Expos at U.S. Cellular again on Tuesday.
The Marlins announced after Monday's game that the teams will
play a doubleheader in Miami at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday, and a single
game Thursday night.
Before Monday, the last NL game in an AL ballpark was in 1946,
when the Boston Braves played several games at Fenway Park because
a paint job on the seats at Braves Field had not dried, according
to the Elias Sports Bureau.
A small but spirited crowd announced at 4,003 transformed the
home park of the Chicago White Sox into a foul-ball chaser's
paradise. With the upper deck closed, most of the fans who spent
$15 for a ticket -- $5 going to hurricane relief -- sat behind the
dugouts and close to the field. There was a loud pro-Expos
contingent, some dressed in Chicago Cubs attire.
"We were surprised to see the large number of Marlins fans,
whooping and hollering," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.
"And I see we brought a few Cubs fans here. They might have
felt threatened by us (in the standings). They wanted to see us go
down the tubes real fast."
The Expos, who know something about moving around after playing
a portion of their home schedule in Puerto Rico the last two years,
got two runs in the first off Josh Beckett on Tony Batista's RBI
grounder and a triple by Terrmel Sledge.
"It's unusual. Of course it's unusual," Expos manager Frank
Robinson said. "You always want to play your home games at home in
front of your fans."
Sun-Wood Kim blanked the Marlins for seven innings before
Florida broke through against the bullpen, scoring five unearned
"We're trying to win games, it doesn't matter how. Unearned
runs or earned runs," Beckett said, adding the site isn't
"If you got to play in Comiskey (U.S. Cellular) or if we got to
play in Alaska, it doesn't matter. We'll try to win those games."
Batista made an error on a ball hit by Miguel Cabrera as the
first run scored, Mike Lowell's sacrifice fly tied the score, and
Florida took a 4-2 lead when Rivera couldn't catch Alex Gonzalez's
shallow fly. Pinch-hitter Lenny Harris, who earlier had been hit by
a flying bat that slipped out of Gonzalez's hand, followed with a
Batista homered in the ninth. Matt Perisho (5-2) was the winner
It was supposed to be a short trip across town for the Marlins,
who played four games over the weekend at Wrigley Field.
But they had to leave their downtown Chicago hotel Sunday and
move to one 25 miles away in suburban Arlington Heights, making
their trip to Chicago's south side an hour by bus. But that's a
small inconvenience for a team playing three doubleheaders in a
span of 11 days as it tries to return to the playoffs.
A large plant with a sign on it greeted Florida's players as
they walked into the clubhouse: "Welcome To Your Second Home,
McKeon took over the office of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen,
who last year was the Marlins' third-base coach. Most of Guillen's
memorabilia lining his office walls and shelves is from his own
career, but there was one big picture of the Marlins celebrating.
"I'll see if I can't smoke this up good," McKeon said, puffing
on a cigar.
McKeon insisted the travel hassles were no big deal.
"It's an unusual situation. We couldn't control the hurricane
or the will of God or what he wanted to toss our way," he said.
"We have to accept it, go on and think nothing about it. A regular
The Marlins were as loose as ever as they did their pre-game
stretching, joking and clowning.
"This team has learned to roll with different scenarios, not to
let it affect it," general manager Larry Beinfest said. "It's a
little bit weird. It feels like we're in a totally different place
because we switched hotels, switched leagues and switched
Beckett's single in the fifth was the first hit ever by a
pitcher at U.S. Cellular Field, which opened in 1991. ... Montreal
had beat the Florida five straight times before Monday. The season
series is 6-6.