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Notes: Cubs respect Marlins
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10/08/2003  7:44 PM ET 
Notes: Cubs respect Marlins
Ratings strong for Game 1; Baker looking for more luck
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Darren Baker knocks fists with Kenny Lofton (left) and Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Darren's dad. (Ann Ryan/AP)
CHICAGO -- The Florida Marlins may not be household names to many people in Wrigleyville but that doesn't mean the Chicago Cubs are taking them lightly in the National League Championship Series.

"I know this clubhouse didn't overlook them," Cubs catcher Damian Miller said. "We've been watching them play the Giants [in the NL Division Series] and we saw what they're capable of doing. They're a pesky team. They can beat you in a lot of ways. They can beat you with speed, they can beat you with power. Their pitching is pretty darn good, too. We know we have our work cut out for us."

Reliever Mike Remlinger agreed.

"[The Marlins are] a really good team," Remlinger said. "We've said that and I don't think people believe it. This is a very good team and they do have a lot of heart, but so do we."

Chicago hope: Game 1 Tuesday attracted the highest big-city television ratings since 1993 for the opening game of the NLCS. FOX's telecast of the Marlins' win drew 12.2 percent of viewers in the top 55 U.S. markets. That's the highest rating in top markets for an NLCS opener since Philadelphia and Atlanta drew 15.4 percent on CBS 10 years ago.

Tuesday's game rating was 53 percent higher than FOX got for its opening League Championship telecast last year. That American League game between Anaheim and Minnesota drew 8 percent of viewers in the top markets.

Chicago had the highest rating for the game at 38.7, while Miami was next at 26.6, according to Nielsen Media Research Inc. Each point represents 749,000 households with televisions.

"The one thing I've learned is nothing's predictable in Chicago."
-- Alex Gonzalez on Chicago's weather

Kid stuff: Yes, that was Darren Baker at his father's side during pregame introductions to Game 1 of the NLCS Tuesday night.

The 4-year-old was the San Francisco Giants bat boy last year when Dusty Baker managed the team and got more attention than he wanted when he had to be saved in Game 5 from a near-collision at home plate.

"He wanted to be there and give everybody a high five for good luck, he said," Baker said of his son. "He said, 'I'm part of the team.' I said, 'You are, son.' It's the first time he's been on the field all year. After that he went with his mom and watched the game."

Dress code: Think Baker isn't superstitious? He wore the gray wristbands with blue stripes Tuesday for Game 1 of the NLCS, the same ones he wore in Game 5 of the NLDS. But the Cubs lost, so Baker on Wednesday was sporting solid blue wristbands.

Santo update: WGN Radio color commentator Ron Santo will undergo surgery next week for bladder cancer. Tumors were discovered on Santo's bladder during a physical and he has had to miss some of the Cubs' postseason games. The Cubs are hanging his No. 10 jersey in the dugout during the NLCS.

Santo, 63, the Cubs' longtime third baseman, has had his share of health problems. He has had both legs amputated below the knee because of complications with diabetes.

Home sweet home: The weather for Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS has been unseasonably warm which is delightful for the fans. It's not good for pitchers because the wind is blowing out and giving a boost to any balls hit in the air.

"The one thing I've learned is nothing's predictable in Chicago," Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez said. "I wasn't expecting it to be 80 degrees today. It's nice to have a year [of] experience here and to be able to make the adjustments. I think for an opposing team to come in, when it can get hot and then cold can make it difficult."

Pro Player Stadium is different than Wrigley Field -- it's larger, especially in the outfield. There's not much charm. Baker won't adjust his approach because of the ballpark.

"I'm not going to manage any differently and I urge my pitchers not to pitch any differently," Baker said. "You manage according to the situation."

The forecast for Miami this weekend calls for temperatures in the 80s and partly cloudy skies with a slight chance of rain.

    Alex Gonzalez   /   SS
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 195
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Hit chart
Cubs site

Miami nice: The Cubs' Gonzalez is a Miami native but he's playing against them. He's made it clear to friends and family who they should be rooting for.

"I hope all the people I know are going for the Cubs," Gonzalez said. "If they're not, they've got to make sure they let me know and I'll deal with that later on. I think a lot of people I know down there are probably pulling for the Marlins, knowing it's their home team. And I can understand that.

"But if they're following the games they'll know that I'm from Miami but I'm playing for the Cubs, and I think there's probably a lot of people split between the two," he said. "They're probably going for both teams at the same time."

In 1997 when the Marlins won the World Series, Gonzalez was home watching the playoffs. He was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays at that time.

"I'd finished my season so I did go to the World Series in '97 and was kind of pulling for [the Marlins] at that point," he said.

Gonzalez also watched the Marlins dismantled after winning the World Series.

"I think the fans were put in a difficult situation," he said, "and I think the organization was in a difficult situation, too.

"Now they've had time and it takes a certain amount of time to be able to build a team together to get to where they are now," he said. "Now they're probably proud about what's happening out in the field and going out and supporting them this year."

Facts and figures: In 17 of the past 33 NL Championship Series, the loser of Game 1 has bounced back to win Game 2, most recently the Atlanta Braves in 2001. Of those 17 teams that tied the series at 1-1, eight eventually claimed the pennant. The last team to do so was the 1991 Braves over Pittsburgh. ... However, a NL Central team has yet to advance to the World Series since the division formed in 1994.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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