2003 Florida Marlins
When the Marlins brought back Jack McKeon last week to take over their struggling ballclub, they were hoping for history repeating itself. They did the same thing in 2003, and that turned out pretty well.
The Marlins began that season 16-22 under Jeff Torborg before bringing in McKeon, who had managed the Royals, A’s, Padres and Reds and had been the 1999 National League manager of the year. The salty McKeon engineered a stark turnaround for the Marlins, going 75-49, qualifying for the playoffs as a wild card and, unfathomably, winning the World Series. Managing future standouts such as Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera, Derrek Lee and Mike Lowell and with certain Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate, it took McKeon 40 games just to get the Marlins back to .500, at 39-39. They lost eight of nine in late August to fall to 70-63 but then ripped off 13 of 15. In the final week they won five in a row to finish 91-71.
The Marlins charged into the postseason and knocked off the heavily favored Giants in four games. On to the NLCS and one of the most famous playoff series ever. The Cubs led three games to two and were up 3-0 with five outs to go before the Steve Bartman incident. The Cubs never recovered, as the Marlins won that game and Game 7 to advance to the World Series. After their workmanlike six-game victory over the Yankees, a franchise just 11 years old had won its second world title. Better not count on McKeon replicating that magic this year.