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Around the Horn

7 April 2000

Smells like Fish

The Florida Marlins, world champions just three years ago, have fallen from grace faster than most. After selling off the team that beat the Indians in the seventh game of the 1997 World Series, the Marlins' entire team payroll is now just a little more than the single season salary of L.A. Dodgers pitcher Kevin Brown.

Florida fans are not happy about what is essentially a minor-league team inhabiting those teal uniforms. Home attendance, in fact, is looking more and more like the minor leagues. Only 7,741 fans showed up for last night's game against the Giants. Things are going from bad to worse for the once solid expansion franchise.

Drew Hits Two in Season Debut

St. Louis Cardinals young slugger J.D. Drew, the high priced, high draft pick, who spurned the team that drafted him (the Phillies), homered twice - including a grand slam - in his first two at-bats of the season in the 13-3 romp over the Cubs yesterday.

The 25-year-old smooth swinging outfielder is entering his second full season in the majors. After posting decent numbers last year in little more than half a season (104 games - 13 HR's, 39 RBI in 368 At-Bats) many around baseball feel greatness is just around the corner for Drew. According to one scout, "J.D. Drew is about to have a breakthrough year."

Griffey's Collar

Ken Griffey Jr.'s much heralded return to his hometown of Cincinnati has started out with a great big collar. The former Seattle slugger is hitless through his first ten plate appearances this season. Pressure? What pressure?

Have no fear, Junior will heat up and streak before too long. He has been baseball's most consistently productive high-end hitter over the past few years. He is well known for getting into a "zone" several times throughout the summer. These snippets of perfection that last sometimes for weeks at a time, are recognizable when the nightly highlight packages suddenly become even more repetitive. Every night Griffey slams something into the upper deck. You are certain you saw that same swing, that same result, just yesterday. And you know what? You're right, you did.

Like the legend of Roy Hobbs, for a few magical weeks during the summer everything Ken Griffey Jr. hits soars as if shot from a cannon.

The Big Cat Comes Back

Andres Galarraga, the Atlanta Braves' power-hitting first baseman, missed all of last season due to a battle with cancer. Sporting a touch of gray below his capline, Galarraga has picked up where he left off two seasons ago. Through Atlanta's first three games, the Big Cat has a pair of home runs and five RBI.

Just having his bat back in the middle of the lineup makes life seem easier for third-baseman Chipper Jones. Last season the switch-hitting Jones improved his power numbers from the right side, hitting .319 while powering out 45 home runs and 110 RBI. A big enough performance to gain Chipper the National League MVP honors. With Galarraga, a .300-hitter capable of 40+ HR's and 120+ RBI hitting right behind him, Jones should feast on fastballs all season long.

Morgan Still Around, After All These Years

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Morgan picked up his first save in almost a decade on Wednesday night as the Diamondbacks trounced the Philadelphia Phillies 11-3. In the process Morgan also became the 25th player in Major League history to play in four decades. The right-handed reliever is playing for a record 12th major league team, which gives scribes the right to link him with the age-old nickname "Suitcase".

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