Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida
By CHARLIE McCARTHY  |  Last updated 8/4/13
MIAMI -- Few people enjoy smoking cigars as much as Jack McKeon. A daily communicant, the former Marlins manager has been known to leave a lighted cigar outside church while attending Mass only to pick up the stogie immediately following the service. But two months after undergoing heart bypass surgery, McKeon dropped a bombshell at Marlins Park on Sunday -- his cigar-smoking days have gone up in smoke. "I gotta give them up, that's the sad part," McKeon said after Miami's 2-0 loss to Cleveland. "The saddest part of the whole thing. Cigars are out -- the toughest thing to do. I hate it. But if I've got a warranty for 20 more years, I don't mind giving them up." McKeon, 82, was at the ballpark to take part in a ceremony celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Marlins' 2003 World Series title. The man who enjoyed two stints (2003-5, 2011) as Marlins skipper said he was feeling "great" and doing a daily routine of 1 12 miles on a treadmill and 2 12 miles on a bicycle following June 3 surgery. Might he be gearing up for yet another managerial opportunity? "You never can say never," he said. "I said never a couple of times, and bang, I was back." The man who replaced Jeff Torborg as then-Florida manager in May 2003 was asked if seeing Sunday's ceremony and World Series trophy might act as incentive to the young current Marlins. "I really don't think it even registers," said McKeon, who then made it obvious he had been keeping up on the PED news. "You got a new culture today. What I've been reading about the last couple of weeks, the culture of these players, c'mon ... if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." During Sunday's pregame ceremony, a short video of 2003 highlights played on the center-field video screen. Marlins manager Mike Redmond said he saw things that had been forgotten, such as first baseman Derrek Lee bunting. "It was a terrible bunt. Naturally, it worked," said Redmond, referring to the magic of that season. McKeon's take on seeing the highlights was a little different. "It seems like it happened two or three years ago," McKeon said. "The parades, the celebration at Yankee Stadium ... you can't get it out of your mind." Looking back helps McKeon remember how difficult it is to win a championship. "I think about it all the time," he said, "when you see some of these clubs that are highly rated and want to go all the way, Washington for example, they don't realize how tough it is. Even the back-to-back playoffs, it's not easy." "The club that had the most guys having the best years is going to win. But then the following year, everybody gets so cocky and says, 'Oh, we don't have to make any moves. We'll be fine.' But it doesn't happen, because you're hoping the same type of guys have the same type of years. And that's where you get sidetracked." McKeon found himself in such a position in 1984 as the San Diego Padres general manager. "We won the pennant, then I said, 'I've gotta get some pitching,' " McKeon said. "So I went out and got a Cy Young guy, LaMarr Hoyt -- and we still didn't win." Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas.
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