SUNRISE, Fla. – Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jarred Cosart admits that, at times, he felt a little bit like a fish out of water while taking in the Florida Panthers’ riveting 2-1 overtime victory over the the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.
“I’ve been to a couple (of games),” said Cosart, who was sporting a custom-made Panthers jersey. “It’s fun. It’s fast paced -- the hitting, the action. When you first start watching, you can’t follow the puck, but right now I’ve got a good grasp on it. I know what offside is. I know all the rules and stuff. It’s fun to watch.”
As part of Florida’s second-annual Marlins Takeover Night at BB&T Center, Cosart and fellow pitchers Jose Fernandez and Mike Dunn were given the star treatment by their gracious hockey hosts, signing autographs and mingling with several Panthers players, such as defenseman Steven Kampfer and enforcer Shawn Thornton, before the game.
“I’m a big fan of baseball,” said Kampfer. “It’s always fun to meet those guys because they put in the same amount of work that we do. It’s fun to meet them and see how big they are because those guys are big boys.”
In addition to a meet and greet with players and fans, Fernandez, the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year, was also chosen to participate in the ceremonial puck drop in what he claims was his first-ever hockey game.
“I don’t think a lot of (baseball players) grow up playing hockey, so it’s fun to kinda show them,” said Kampfer. “It was definitely a good game to watch. Hopefully they keep coming back.”
After failing to reach the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season, Cosart believes that his Marlins could learn a thing or two from the first-place Panthers in order to kick start a resurgence of their own.
Much like the Marlins, the Panthers have also spent the majority of the last decade on the outside looking in at the postseason as constant roster upheavals kept the team from establishing any sort of consistency. However, with a mix of young talent and proven veterans fueling their success, the franchise has now begun to turn things around and capture South Florida’s imagination once again as they push towards the playoffs.
"It's a pretty young team, you've got a little mix. Jagr, 44, Ichiro, 41 — two guys that are ambassadors of the game. They've been around a long time, they go about their business the right way, so as young guys you learn from them," Cosart said.
"Watching these guys, I play for the Miami Marlins and I'm rooting for the Florida Panthers to win a Stanley Cup playoff. I hope they're doing the same thing if we get to the playoffs."