The Miami Marlins and the New York Mets are bitter rivals. They both compete in the National League's eastern division, and have come to blows on numerous occasions over the years. There is nothing the Marlins and their supporters would like to see more than the Mets fall in their first playoff appearance since 2006. But the Fish don't want them to fail, not yet.
This is because the opposing manager in New York's division series, Don Mattingly, might very well be axed if the Dodgers suffer a second division round exit in the last three years. The Dodgers haven't won a World Series since 1988, and with the team playing in such a large media market, patience is running very thin indeed.
This could play right in to the hands of the Marlins. Mattingly has been identified as the club's ideal managerial candidate, even though he is under contract with Los Angeles through next season. This is because the two teams have very different expectations. The Dodgers, with their payroll and pedigree, expect to play for the World Series every year, while the Marlins are simply looking to secure their first winning season since 2009.
Even though Don Mattingly may fall out of favor with the Dodgers if he does not deliver a championship this season, it is not because he is a bad manager. In five years with the Dodgers, starting with his first ever year of managing in 2011, Mattingly has lead the team to a .551 regular season win percentage and three straight NL West titles.
Given that those results came in a division that is also home to the always talented San Francisco Giants, his managerial resumé looks even more impressive. That postseason experience he has acquired over the last three seasons is critical to a young Marlins squad who may be primed for a playoff run after a few off-season additions.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about Manny Acta and the job opening in Miami. Compared to Acta, Mattingly has achieved so much more over the course of a similar number of games at the helm, that he has to be considered a superior candidate. Larry Bowa is also in the mix after it was revelead that he'll have a second meeting with the Marlins. However, Bowa's age gives Mattlingly a serious advantage as he still has time to develop his skills as a skipper.
Even though I am a current Florida Gator, it feels wrong to tell Marlins supporters to don any orange and blue that they have on Thursday night. But, if the Mets beating the Dodgers means that the Marlins will be in a better position next season, with a manager with a positive track record, then let us at least remain partial to the outcome of this game. After all, beating the Mets next year with Don Mattingly in charge would be so much sweeter knowing that they were the reason behind the move.