As the dust settled following the conclusion of the 2023 Miami Marlins season, I made my way around the clubhouse to ask everyone I could what their favorite moment from the season was. Many of the guys pointed to clinching a playoff berth in Pittsburgh as their favorite moment, though some had a more personal answer.
Read all the way to the end and I promise it will be worth it.
Clinching/Making it to the Postseason
“Entering the postseason. There’s no better moment when you clinch than to celebrate with the guys, and you know you accomplished something. The hardest part of the season is to get into the postseason.”—Manager Skip Schumaker
“Just getting here together. I mean, getting here together as a team. That was probably my favorite moment.”—Jazz Chisholm Jr.
“Getting here. Getting to the postseason and being able to experience a crowd like that.”—Sandy Alcantara
“Clinching the postseason. It’s been five years since I’ve done it. I know a lot of guys did it for the first time this season and I think that just kind of solidified the whole year and all the hard work. We’ll think about that for a lifetime. So, hopefully we’ll be back next year, too.”—Garrett Hampson
“My favorite thing about this team is just the guys. I mean, I just love this group. It’s just been a fun and special group to be a part of. We really all enjoyed each other. Think we’re all really sad to see it end. As far as a moment, I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you just one. I mean, clinching with this group was pretty special, so I guess I’ll go with that.”—Joey Wendle
“Probably in… shoot, where did we clinch? I don’t even remember where we clinched!”
“Pittsburgh, yeah, probably just celebrating in Pittsburgh getting to the playoffs. I mean, it was such an accomplishment for this group, especially how spring training went and what everyone else’s expectations were of us. I think just making it to that point and celebrating with the guys was my favorite part by far.”—Nick Fortes
“Definitely clinching a spot in the postseason in Pittsburgh. To be able to celebrate that moment with everyone was special and something I’ll never forget.”—Bryan Hoeing
“It had to be clinching in Pittsburgh. Obviously haven’t done in 20 years here. Nobody expected us to be there—literally, it seemed like nobody. So, clinching was huge. I mean, it was so fun. A lot of people know how special it is get to the postseason, how hard it is, so just getting to experience that with such a great group of guys was awesome.”—Steven Okert
“Clinching, popping champagne bottles with everybody was awesome. There’s so many great moments, but I think I think the biggest one would be popping bottles with the boys and just seeing what we can do and know what we can do.”—Andrew Nardi
“Clinching in Pittsburgh. Just seeing all the hard work that the team did to come together and achieve that was just a great experience.”—A.J. Puk
“Honestly, I would say probably the first game I played [in Miami]. No sleep and we go down against the Phillies and I think we won in like the 10th or 11th inning. I knew I was at home when we won that game.”—Jake Burger
“The most fun I had, the loudest I screamed, was that comeback against the Yankees. That was what kind of set the standard , the trust in, you know, it doesn’t matter how many runs we needed at the end of the game. Just gotta start with one shot, and if we can do that, we have a chance.”—Josh Bell
“My favorite moment had to be the comeback agains the Yankees. Was some of the most fun I’ve had watching a game in a long time.”—Jesus Luzardo (via text)
“Teamwise, that win in Chicago, the White Sox win. That was a pretty, pretty sweet win. And for me personally, I’d have to say the 13-strikeout game. It’s always fun to get a lot of strikeouts. So yeah, I’d say that.”—Braxton Garrett
“I think the best part for me was watching how the clubhouse became so close and how everyone embraced their role on the team! It was cool to see what a winning team and culture looks like on the big league level. That was the first time in my big league career where I felt like our team had such good camaraderie! It was just all special. It takes a certain group of that type to turn the culture around. I was a part of that same type of transition of a program in college my freshman and sophomore year so I know what it looks like. My first year there we had a new coach and leadership. Same here with the Marlins and it’s pretty cool to see and just be a part of. So I guess you can say it was literally me coming over in the trade to be a part of something special taking place here.”—Jonathan Davis (via text)
“My favorite memory from this year was getting my full-circle moment and getting to play at the [Citizens Bank Park]. Was a surreal experience getting to play in the park I grew up going to games in.”—Devin Smeltzer (via text)
“My personal moment was the season our pitching staff had! The fact that we competed with every single team. Also, can’t forget the bats! What Arraez continues to do in both leagues is legendary.”—Chi Chi Gonzalez (via text)
“Probably the first day I got there [Miami] and got three outs under the dome.”—David Robertson
And Finally, Tanner Scott
Allow me to preface this with some background on the Marlins closer.
Let’s go back in time to June 15, 2022. The Marlins are in Philadelphia for a matinee rubber match of a three-game series with the Phillies. It’s my second road trip on the beat. In the clubhouse, prior to the game, I was chatting with Tanner Scott and said to him, “Hey man, you’ve been nails in the ninth inning lately.”
Big mistake. Whether or not I believe in jinxes, the look Tanner gave me when I said that immediately told me that I had screwed up. Tanner laughed it off, and we went our separate ways. A few hours later, with the Marlins leading 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and two men on base, Tanner Scott threw a slider to Phillies backup catcher Garrett Stubbs. Stubbs sent it out of the ballpark. The Phillies walked it off.
Tanner didn’t talk to me the rest of the season. It became a running joke amongst those in the clubhouse that under no circumstances would Tanner talk to me. It wasn’t until halfway through spring training this year that he broke his silence, but even then, he would cooperate reluctantly and make the exchanges as uncomfortable as possible.
That brings us to this week, prior to Wednesday’s game that ultimately decided the Wild Card Series between the Marlins and the Phillies, ironically at the same ballpark where I inadvertently put a hex on him. Tanner is holding court in the interview room for a quick press conference. After answering a few other questions, the mic gets handed to me. Tanner sees me holding the mic and dramatically rolls his eyes as I start to ask my question.
As usual, I get flustered, he grins, and the other reporters chuckle.
After the game, when I was asking everyone for their favorite moments, Tanner doubled down: “[My favorite moment was] today, getting to mess with you.”
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images