Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 25, 2002 · Page 29
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 29

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Friday, October 25, 2002
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Page 29
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<3nhtmta (gazette WORLD SERIES Friday, October 25, 2002 — Page 29 J.T. Snow yanked Giants' bat boy Darren Baker out of harm's way during the seventh inning of Thursday's game. (AP photo) Snow rescues Giants' bat boy By JAMIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer SAN FRANCISCO — Dusty Baker had barely reached his office when his phone started ringing. It was the manager's mother, calling from Sacramento. Christina Baker had a litde lecture in store. Just what was her S'/i-year-old grandson doing in harm's way in the middle of the World Series? "Yes, ma. OK, ma," Baker said. Baker's son, Darren, got so excited while retrieving a bat in Game 5 on Thursday night that he nearly got run over at the plate. When J.T. Snow scored for the Giants in the seventh inning of San Francisco's 16-4 victory, Darren ran out of the dugout to pick up Kenny Lofton's bat after he hit a two-run triple. The problem was, David Bell was running full-speed behind Snow. Snow made sure Darren was safe at home. He scooped him up by his oversized black jacket and asked, "You OK, buddy?" Darren, whose helmet had fallen off, nodded yes and patted the San Francisco first baseman on the back. "He's so eager all the time," Snow said. Baker looked a little sheepish and a tad shaken, too. As for Darren, he was fine in the dugout a moment later, sticking his finger in his nose for a national TV audience. While it may have appeared to be an adorable World Series moment, it was a little bit scary for just about everybody. "I think he was arguing with the other bat boys on who was going to get Kenny Lofton's bat," Baker said. "He's one of his favorites. I saw the play unfold, and I was thinking about what my mom told me, 'He shouldn't be out there, he's going to get hurt.' I said, 'Mom, I know what I'm doing.' " The bat boy said he learned a lesson and was grateful to Snow. "I told him, "Thank you,' " Darren said. "It didn't scare me at all. (My dad) told me, 'J.T saved you.'" Angels catcher Bengie Molina was about to step in and grab the child. "I thought he might get hurt big time," Molina said. "I was scared when I saw him wandering into the play. Luckily the ball was iiit a ton and as I went to scoop him up, J.T. grabbed him in the middle of the plate. You worry that he's going to get hurt bad. We were lucky that J.T. was thinking out there." Darren and several other little boys were standing at the top of the steps leading from the field to the clubhouse when Snow came up. Snow rubbed his hands through the boy's hair and they walked into the clubhouse together. Snow said he has a 4'/2-year-old son at home, so he knew how to grab Darren. "I reached down. Luckily, I grabbed him by the collar," Snow said. "His eyes were huge. I don't think he knew what was going on. "He's our good-luck charm. We can't have him going down. We need him as much as we need any of our players." Snow added a little humor. "I finally might get on the highlights for once by saving Dusty's kid," he said. Baker said his son would accompany the team to Anaheim. "A couple of the guys said if he didn't go, they wouldn't go," the manager said. Darren, who is shorter than the bats he struggles to carry, is one of the most popular attractions at Pacific Bell Park. He missed Game 3 on Tuesday night with an earache and sinus infection, but his dad couldn't keep him away for Games 4 and 5. He woke up early Wednesday, eager to get to the ballpark and make up for missed time. Baker, in his 10th season managing the Giants, has been receptive to having players' kids around — both in the clubhouse and on the field. They rotate as bat boys. Rarely is there such on-field participation by players' children in other ballparks. Kent's big night a fond farewell? By GREG BEACHAM AP Sports Writer SAN FRANCISCO—Jeff Kent never stops to admire his homers. He made no exception for the two home runs that propelled the Giants to the brink of a World Series championship in perhaps his last home game in San Francisco. Kent drove in four runs and scored four times in Game 5 on Thursday night, breaking open a tense contest by emphatically snapping the 3-for- 16 slump in which he began the game. Kent, a free agent after the season, scored four times to tie a record for a Series game. San Francisco beat Anaheim 16-4, moving within one victory of the franchise's first title since 1954. While leaving the field at Pacific Bell Park, Kent allowed himself a moment to reflect on (he biggest game of his career in San Francisco — but only a moment. "There might be a little bit of sad- "1 uOn t think there's a better way we could potentially end our careers here, if it is that." — San Francisco second baseman Jeff Kent ness because it might be my last game here, but I'm thinking beyond that," said Kent, who aiso doubled. "I have enough respect for this Series and enough respect for the Angels to know that this doesn't mean squat. The next two games are going to be the biggest • games we've ever played." Kent made only one concession to the enormity of the moment: He cracked a smile after his second homer put the Giants well ahead. For the first time in his first World Series, Kent made a big contribution to the Giants' attack. Finally excelling on the stage he waited 11 major league seasons to reach, Kent had the first two-homer game in the World Series by a Giants player since Benny Kauff in Game 4 of the 1917 Series against the White Sox. It was quite a iast hurrah. Kent — the ML MVP in 2000 — isn't expected to return to San Francisco unless the expected big-money offers don't materialize. Manager Dusty Baker is also a good bet to leave the Giants this winter. "I don't think there's a better way we could potentially end our careers here, if it is that," Kent said. The Giants say they can't afford what Kent will probably command, and Kent has criticized Pac Bell for its unfriendliness to hitters. That'll be a difficult argument to accept .after what Kent did in the biggest game in the park's three-year history. "You just knew he was going to bust out," San Francisco right-han- der Jason Schmidt said. "It was just a matter of time. You can't keep a guy like him down. He knew what the stakes were tonight." Kent hit .188 in the first four games of the Series, striking out five times and often looking terrible while doing so — but he carried his own weight in Game 5. In the first inning, he drew a walk and scored on Santiago's sacrifice fly. In the second, Kent doubled to right and scored on Santiago's single. With the Giants clinging to a 6-4 lead in the sixth, Kent launched a pitch from reliever Ben Weber into left field, where a San Francisco fan gloved it cleanly in the front row of the bleachers. One inning later, Kent hit another homer off Scot Shields. Two years ago, before the Giants lost a division series to the Mets, Kent said he might retire immediately if he ever won a ring. Now that the Giants are nine innings away, he tried to keep his mind on the near fu- Angels caught in headlights By STEVE DILBECK Los Angeles Daily News SAN FRANCISCO — They're in the headlights now, eyes wide, hearts racing. If they freeze, it's over. As quickly as the magic began, they're just another puff of smoke. .The Angels' ride through the postseason has been so enchanted, their faithful will have a difficult time facing up to an incomplete ending. They want the fairy-tale finish, not another bitter defeat. They want talk of comebacks and new stars and parades, not reminders of ghosts and curses and heartbreaks. The Angels are down to it now, down to one final loss. The Giants saw to that on a chilly Thursday night with a convincing 16-4 defeat in a Pacific Bell Park that grew more demoralizing by the inning. The Giants, who appeared to be in such dire trouble just a couple nights earlier, took a 3-2 lead in the 2002 World Series with the victory. The series returns to Anaheim now, where the Angels have to win Saturday and Sunday to capture their first World Series. Where they have to recapture the magic that slipped away by the Bay. Rallies that were answered by the Giants. Balls that agonizingly hugged the chalk, only to drift away. A bullpen that became average. Their best starting pitcher, reduced to a two-time World Series loser. Carriages back to pumpkins. Thursday night, balls hit by Giants that had found gloves fell just out of their grasp. And each one proved costly. ^ Shortstop David Eckstein ran halfway to the wharf chasing down a foul pop-up by Kenny Lofton in the second inning, only for the bail to bounce off the inside of his glove. Most nights, the diminutive shortstop makes this play. This time he doesn't, and Lofton hits the next ball for a single to begin a three-run rally. With two outs in the sixth, Rich Aurilia hits a line drive that just goes off the web of third baseman Troy Glaus' glove. It easily could have been the third out. Instead, Jeff Kent comes up and hits a two-run homer. His first of two. The night began with huge disappointment for the Angels. Jarrod Washburn, their ace, their 18-game winner, failed miserably for the second time. The left-hander who said he relished the Game 5 situation, who "wanted to be the guy," gave up three runs in the first inning and three more in the second. Washburn is now 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA in the World Commentary Series. With Jason Schmidt throwing smoke for the Giants, 6-0 appeared a safe lead for San Francisco. But the Angels started chipping away, like they had all postseason, started fighting back, kept believing. Hadn't the Angels been down 6-1 to the Yankees in Game 3 of their division series and come back? They scored three times in the fourth, added one more in the fifth to chase Schmidt, and suddenly it was a game. The Angels were very much alive, looking very capable of coming back and returning to Anaheim as the team needing one victory. Then came the ball off Glaus' glove, the Kent home run off ineffective reliever Ben Weber, and the floodgates would soon open. Poor rookie Scot Shields — who hadn't appeared in the entire postseason, the entire month of October — was fed to the wolves, and it was hide-your-eyes ugly. The necessary sacrifice. Glaus committed an error along the way, but for Shields there would be two home runs and five runs, and a postseason debut that could haunt. And now the Angels are in trouble, real trouble for the first time this postseason. They have to win Game 6 on Saturday, and they're starting right-hander Kevin Appier, who's made every postseason start an absolute adventure. If they survive Saturday, unpredictable Ramon Ortiz, fighting ten- dinitis in his pitching hand, is scheduled to start Game 7, though it might be best to expect rookie John Lackey. It doesn't look promising, but often this has been when the Angels excelled. They have no choice now. They'd better have saved their best comeback for last. You know the Giants are going to be ready. They can taste it now, can imagine the celebration, see San Francisco giddy with its first World Series championship. If the Angels have an ounce of magic left, they'll need it now. They'11 need every plastic noiscmaker, need every inspiration that can be gleaned from the red sea at Edison Field. They'll need all the execution and breaks they can muster. The Angels are 6-1 at Edison during the postseason. They're scheduled to face two starting pitchers they've already beaten, Russ Ortiz and Livan Hernandez. They can still do this. Can still be the comeback kids. There's just no time to be the fro/en deer, captured in the moment. Jeff Kent received congratulations from Benito Santiago after slugging his second home run of the game. (AP photo) Cure, not the big picture. "The World Series is bigger and better than anything that free agency could bring," Kent said. "You'd like to think you have many opportunities to get to the World Series, but as you get older, you start to wonder if it's ever going to happen to you. "Maybe that makes this night even better." Few showdowns, little magic and too few viewers SAN FRANCISCO —To their, credit and regret, the Anaheim Angels pitched to Barry Bonds again. Double to right, double to left, single to center. Bonds, batting .500 with 10 walks in the World Series, jumped on pitches when he finally got a chance, thanks to hits and homers ahead of him by Kenny Lofton and Jeff Kent. The onslaught brought the San Francisco Giants a 16-4 romp Thursday and a 3-2 lead. "You look at the final score, and it was a whuppin' — no doubt about that," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was more than just Barry, obviously." This series was turning into the biggest tumoff of all time, producing the lowest national TV ratings, and a prime reason was Anaheim's fear of pitching to Bonds. They've been playing in the most beautiful ballpark in America. Games have been tight with comebacks by each team. There have been hits galore in a couple of breakouts by each. But something was missing. The star. The showdown. The magic. Steve Wilstein People who are not Angels fans or Giants fans or unwavering baseball addicts would watch just to see Bonds launch balls into McCovey Cove or go down trying. They may not care who wins, but they might tune in to see the best hitter in baseball challenged — just as people who couldn't care less about golf turn on the Masters to watch Tiger Woods. Fans love stars and dramatic moments. As the Angels kept walking Bonds, i who scared them with homers in each of the first three games, this World Series seemed like a Rolling Stones concert with Mick Jagger's mouth taped shut. "You're missing the star," Hall of Famer Joe Morgan said after Bonds was walked three times intentionally in Game 4. "To be blunt, there weren't a lot of big stars in this series. It's not like the Yankees. There's not Curt Schilling. There's not Randy Johnson. There's Barry Bonds. And he's taken out with walks. "I just hate that a guy has honed his skills to be the best and he doesn't get a chance to prove it anymore." There are reasons for some of the worst TV ratings in World Series history other than the five intentional walks and nine overall that Bonds got in the first four games. It's a West Coast duel that hasn't grabbed the rest of the country and it's part of a general slump in ratings and attendance since baseball came close to a strike. The games are on too late, take too. long, and Fox's Tim McCarver talks too much. Nobody knows the game better, but four hours of his lectures and opinions can induce a grand slam headache. "The pace seems inexorable," says IV sports consultant Neal Pilson, the former president of CBS Sports. "And it's infuriating to the viewer that the only major national star in the game, Barry Bonds, is a factor only as a baserunner. I'm frustrated, myself, watching it. ' • "It may be good strategy to walk him, but it's bad for viewers, bad for spectators at the ballpark and bad for the game. It robs the public of the confrontation between pitchers and one of the best hitters in history." Bonds was walked a record 198 times this year, 68 intentionally, in all kinds of situations. When he's walked with first base open and a runner on second, that's baseball. When he's walked intentionally, as he was in Game 4, with runners on first and third and one out, that's gutless. Sure, it worked out for the Angels, who got the next batter, Benito Santiago, to ground into a double play. But it's a timid way to approach the game and a sure way to turn off fans. "Our job 5s to win ballgames/' Scioscia said, defending his strategy. "That takes precedence over anything that you might say anybody wants to see. ... I don't listen to the criticism." Scioscia let Jarrod Washburn pitch to Bonds in the first inning of Game 5 with runners on first and second and one out. Bonds lined a double down the right field line, driving in one run, and San Francisco went on to take a 3-0 lead as Washburn walked four other Giants, one intentionally. In the second inning, Bonds was walked intentionally, though reasonably, after a single by Lofton and a double by Kent, and the Giants padded their lead to 6-0. In the sixth, after Kent's two-run homer gave the Giants an 8-4 lead, Bonds doubled again. Bonds singled in the seventh after Lofton's two-run triple and Kent's second two-run shot made it 12-4. Scioscia said Bonds should be flattered by the attempts to neutralize him. "The problem I have," Morgan said, "is that managers, because of the way they walk him, they've allowed their pitchers to not be competitive." At the start of the series, the Angels said they intentionally walked only a couple dozen batters all season and wouldn't be walking Bonds all the time. Then in the second game, Bonds crushed a 485-foot homer off Troy Percival, the longest shot ever hit in Anaheim. It was a solo homer with two outs in the ninth in the Angels' 11-10 win, but it wasn't meaningless. "It told everybody that there's nobody here who can stop him. That set the tone," Morgan said. "I hate, in a way, that he hit that home run, because he's not going to get anymore." Walking the best hitters has been pan of the game forever. Babe Ruth held the walks record long before Bonds. But at a time when attendance and ratings are flagging, maybe some thought should go into getting rid of intentional walks, perhaps by forcing catchers to remain in a crouch behind the plate. "There's a solution for every problem," Morgan said. "I just know that it's not fun for us to watch." Steve Wilstein is the national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him atswilstein@ap.org

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