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High on the Throne in the Queen City


Good morning from Cincinnati, where the local chili chains (Gold Star, SkyLine) are cooking up their weiners and spaghetti concoctions for the lunchtime crowd and the Marlins are living high on the hog with the best record in the majors (Editors: "best record in majors" is a CQ). Fresh off a series sweep over the Nats and riding a 7-game winning streak, the Fish are starting to attract a bit of national notice. USA Today has a banner key-in on their Sports section this morning noting that the Sunshine State's two ballclubs -- the Marlins and the Rays -- are, as the paper put it, "giving Floridians an unusual treat." Tampa Bay is on a 4-game roll and is nestled in second in the AL East, 1 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.

Just think. It was five years ago this month the Marlins pulled into Cincy languishing 10 games below .500 with a record of 19-29. The storm clouds turned even darker when reliever Tommy Phelps was forced to take the mound in the series opener at the last moment after Brad Penny, the scheduled starter, fell ill and started throwing up in the clubhouse. The rest is history. Phelps notched his first major-league victory that night in what proved to be a season turning-point, the Marlins went on a 6-game winning tear, and they sailed on to capture the World Series

One "go-figure" note. The Marlins have won eight out of nine games since Fredi Gonzalez shuffled the lineup on May 2. But Hanley Ramirez, who was dropped to third in the order from the leadoff spot, has contributed all of 2 (two) RBI during that stretch. Dan Uggla's bat, on the other hand, turned so red-hot after dropping down in the lineup that he ditched his pink piece of Mother's Day lumber on Sunday for his regular model. Since May 2, Uggla has hit .400 with seven homers and 15 RBI.

That's it for the time being. Time for a four-way with onions.