Bahamian professional baseball player Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm is now a part of one of the most memorable playoff matchups in baseball history.
During their World Series title run in 2003, the last time the franchise made the playoffs, the former Florida Marlins, now Miami Marlins, knocked off the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) in seven games. However, it was the infamous incident involving Cubs’ fan Steve Bartman in game six of that series that had everyone talking afterward.
The Cubs led the series three games to two, and were ahead 3-0 in the eighth inning of game six, when Bartman interfered with a foul ball along the left field line while in the stands, that Cubs’ left fielder Moises Alou had an opportunity to catch. The batter, Luis Castillo, walked on the next pitch and the Marlins went on to score eight in that inning and eventually won the game, 8-3. They won game seven as well to win the series and went on to win the World Series over the New York Yankees.
Keep in mind, the Cubs had not won a World Series title since 1908 and their fans were hungry for a shot at the ultimate prize in the Fall Classic. The Cubs blew a three games to one lead against the Marlins that year.
Ironically, the Marlins defeated the Yankees two games to one in their weekend series this past weekend, and will now go on to play the Cubs in the wild card round of the playoffs this year. The Marlins are seeded sixth while the National League (NL) Central Division Champions Cubs is the third seeded team.
Chisholm, 22, was a young boy when that 2003 series was played, just five years old.
Now, he has an opportunity to be a part of history and help this Marlins team advance in the playoffs of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Cubs will host the Marlins in a mini best-of-three series starting Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. It will be televised on ABC. Game two is set for Thursday, and if necessary, game three will be played on Friday.
Chisholm and the Marlins clinched a playoff spot last Friday, knocking off the Yanks, 4-3, in the Bronx, New York. With that win, they ended the second-longest active postseason drought in MLB. It is their first time advancing to the playoffs since 2003. The Seattle Mariners own the longest drought, shut out of the playoffs for the last 18 years.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Marlins this season. Hindered by a coronavirus outbreak at the onset of the shortened 60-game season due to COVID-19, they shockingly won seven out of eight out of the gate, then dropped eight out of 10, including five straight. They remained around the .500 mark ever since, ending the season with a 31-29 win-loss record – their first winning season since 2009. Last season, they finished an NL worst 57-105. This year, they finished second in the NL East Division behind the Atlanta Braves and became the first NL team to make the playoffs after a 100-loss season.
As a result of their COVID-19 outbreak at the beginning of the season, they had to play a number of make-up games and ended up playing 28 games in 24 days. Monday was their first day off since September 3.
This is just the third trip to the playoffs for the Marlins. They won the World Series title both previous times.
They go into their series with the Cubs banged up, losing outfielder Starling Marte and right-hander José Ureña to injuries in the first three innings on Sunday. Marte left with a bruised left ear after being hit by Clarke Schmidt’s 94 miles per hour (mph) fastball, and Marlins’ starting pitcher Ureña was hit on the right arm by DJ LeMahieu’s liner in the third. It was reported Ureña has a fractured forearm.
The Marlins’ opponent on Wednesday, the Cubs, are highly favored in their first round matchup. The Cubs won the World Series title in 2016, essentially ending a 108-year championship drought, and are looking for another shot at glory this year. This year, they won their third division title in the past five seasons.
All of the first round series will be contested on the home field of the higher seeded team. Following that, all of the postseason games will be held in pandemic-prompted “bubbles.”
The American League (AL) Division Series will be held in the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, with games beginning October 5 and running through October 9 at the latest. Petco Park will host the AL Championship Series, which will begin October 11 and run through October 17, at the latest.
The NL Division Series host sites will be the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park and the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Those games will run October 6 to October 10, at the latest. The NL Championship Series will be at Globe Life Field, with game one on October 12 and game seven, if needed, on October 18.
Globe Life Field also will be the site of the World Series, with game one on October 20 and the last possible day of the season being October 28, if a game seven is needed.
Maintaining standard procedure, the division series will be best-of-five, with the higher seed designated as the home team for the first and second games, and if necessary, game five as well. The league championship series and the World Series will be best-of-seven, with the higher seed getting the last at-bat in games one and two, and if necessary, games six and seven.
On Sunday, Chisholm had one of his best games as a professional. Starting at shortstop and batting seventh, he finished 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored in the Marlins 5-0 whitewash of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York. He had a two-run double in the top of the second inning and a solo home run in the top of the eighth inning.
“Growing up as a kid, you always want to play in Yankee Stadium, and it was fun,” he said. “It was really cool to be going up against one of the biggest teams in baseball history, if not the biggest team in baseball history. I have to give all the credit to my teammates because if it wasn’t for them, I would not have been able to perform like this today.”
In the field, Chisholm had two stellar defensive plays, one-hopping a sharp shot off the bat of Gary Sánchez in the bottom of the fourth inning before spinning and throwing out Sánchez, then fielding a sharp grounder off the bat of AL Batting Champion LeMahieu in the bottom of the seventh and throwing him out.
“I saw the ball hit and I was like ‘Oh my God! This one is hit kind of hard. Let’s just go with it.’ It ended up in the glove, and it was one of the sickest plays I ever made in my life,” said Chisholm of the shot from Sánchez. “I was just out there playing defense. I go out there with the intention of making those plays every day. I’m always ready for those plays – every single pitch. I saw how the ball was coming and I said to myself, ‘This one is kind of hot. Get ready.’ The game gets better with reps, so being able to go out there and get the reps in is huge. It feels great.”
In that game, Chisholm added an assist and two putouts.
Chisholm was called up on September 1 and played in 22 games for the Marlins. Prior to this weekend, he was hitless in 19 at-bats before connecting for a single off Yankees’ reliever Miguel Yajure on Saturday. He followed that up with a 2-for-4 performance on Sunday and finished the season hitting .161 with two home runs and six RBIs. He had nine hits in 56 at-bats, five bases on balls, two stolen bases and scored eight runs. Chisholm ended the season with a .242 on-base percentage (OBP) and a .563 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).
Defensively, Chisholm had 25 putouts, 43 assists, an error and was a part of 13 double plays. He had a fielding percentage of 1.000 at second base and .962 at shortstop. Chisholm started 11 games at second base this season and six at shortstop. His defense could be a major boost to the Marlins in the playoffs.