by Scott Kindberg
First Postseason Experience is Thrill for Jamestown Native
"There could be the worst thunderstorm in Florida's history and it wouldn't rain on my parade," said Dan Lunetta.
Lunetta, Florida's director of minor league administration, spoke Tuesday morning - hours before the Marlins' 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants in the division series opener - about the anticipation of the history-making event.
"It's gratifying when you think about how difficult it is to get (to the playoffs)," Lunetta said. "It's even more gratifying when you come to the realization that we've done it in our sixth season."
The Marlins, who joined the national League in 1993 with the Colorado Rockies, expected to make the playoffs this season, primarily because of their free-agent acquisitions and the deep pockets of owner Wayne Huizenga. In fact, in the past year, the Marlins have spent $175 million on long-term contracts, including $89 million to acquire six free agents. Anything less than a playoff berth would have been a disappointment.
"(General manager) Dave Dombrowski and (assistant general manager) Frank Wren did an outstanding job going out and getting the guys we needed," Lunetta said. "The coup de grace was getting Darren Daulton (from Philadelphia midway through the season). This is a guy, who by all baseball opinions, is a true gamer who didn't take long to make his presence felt here."
Lunetta, 42, who oversees the administration of the Marlins' farm system, has been working in professional baseball for 19 years, including major league stints with Montreal and Cincinnati, but yesterday's game was his first postseason experience.
"It's an absolute thrill," the 1973 Jamestown High School graduate said. "A lot of people I know, who have been in baseball two and three times longer than I have, have never had the opportunity. It's everything you work towards. The goal is to qualify. The goal beyond that is to win the championship. How deep we go remains to be seen, I think we have a real good chance to go deep into the playoffs."
Looming over the Marlins' postseason run is the impending sale of the franchise. Huizenga, who is trying to peddle the team, reportedly claims he'll lose $30 million this year despite the fact that the Marlins' home attendance climbed 36 percent to 29,555 per game, the biggest percentage increase in the major leagues.
"We wanted a greater increase to offset the money spent on free agents," Lunetta said.
The former Jamestown Expos general manager noted, however, that team officials are "very optimistic about the future."