April 1, 2003: Without the help of a noisy alarm clock, barking dogs or a hotel wake-up call, both Ken Macha and Bob Melvin were wide awake before the sun came up in Oakland.

That’s what happens when you get your first managerial job in Major League Baseball. Macha and Melvin, both tired but too anxious to sleep, spent the morning doing busy work, trying to erase the anticipation of the season opener. No such luck. The nervous excitement actually took its toll on Melvin, who had to fill out his lineup card three times before getting it right (one, he messed up his own signature and the other he didn’t include Ichiro Suzuki’s last name).

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Monday was a travel day for the Marlins. Florida manager Jack McKeon used the flight from San Francisco to Pittsburgh to plot his strategy for September — and if McKeon gets his way – – October and a National League Wild Card slot.

When the plane lands in Pittsburgh, McKeon will need to re-charge the Marlins. They have lost 5 of 6 to Colorado and San Francisco on the west coast and now have a stop in Pittsburgh before returning to Pro Player Stadium for Labor Day weekend to start a pivotal seven game home stand, including a four-game weekend series against the Montreal Expos. Despite the recent skid, the Marlins and McKeon are a great story.

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