Sunday, October 20, 2002
Updated: October 22, 11:15 AM ET
Five things to remember this World Series
By Ray Ratto
Special to ESPN.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Nine years ago, on this very night, the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays turned Game 4 of the 1993 World Series into a Lucy skit.
You remember it -- 15-14, Blue Jays. The game took four hours and change, left baseball fans across the entire East Coast trying to score enough cocaine to keep awake until the end, and might even have changed the tide of the Series if the Blue Jays hadn't already taken control of it.
Or, maybe you said, "The hell with this. I gotta go to work Friday. Screw the Phillies and Blue Jays.'' You would not have been alone.
Which brings us with some trepidation to Game 2 of the 2002 World Series. The Anaheim Angels drew to an inside straight in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat the San Francisco Giants, 11-10, and even the series at one thing apiece.
But the game also reminded us of several other valuable things, information that will serve us in good stead as this series weaves its way on unsteady feet to San Francisco, The Place Where Anything Can Happen, Probably Already Has, And The Police Are Investigating.
For one thing, we spend way too much time worrying about the starting pitcher. Sunday night, we tried to parse out cosmic truths about Russ Ortiz and Kevin Appier, only to look up and discover that they'd both been chased from the game.
They combined to spread 12 runs and 14 hits over 11 outs, were sent to their respective clubhouses to construct plausible explanations, and thereby assured that we would be led immediately to ...
The second thing, which is we worry way too much about managers and their pitching changes, when most of the time, those changes make (or don't make) themselves.
Example? San Francisco's Jay Witasick walks Tim Salmon with Darin Erstad at second base in the sixth inning, thereby forcing Dusty Baker to bring in Aaron Fultz, who he had surely hoped to avoid using, to face Garret Anderson. Base hit, run scores, game is tied at 9, and the first question on everyone's lips is, "Did you think about bringing in Felix Rodriguez instead?''
The answer to this, of course, is "Oh, shut up.''
Another example? Anaheim's Mike Scioscia leaves Francisco Rodriguez in for three innings to burn the Giants' avenues of escape. He faces nine hitters, retires them all, strikes out four of them, and someone wants to know if he used Rodriguez too long.
The answer to this, naturally, is, "We won, you dope.''
And then there's ...
The third thing, which is There's Always A Way To Get Into Barry Bonds. This time, it was not only to marvel at his ninth-inning home run ("The longest ball I've ever seen hit,'' drooled Tim Salmon), but to notice that he was otherwise rendered inert by the strategically timid Angels pitchers.
Or, more accurately, walked twice by the unreliable (at least on this
night) Appier and again by John Lackey. He came up once with a man on base all evening, was pitched to once when he could have hurt the Angels, grounded out sharply to first base and then hit a one-run homer when the Giants needed two runs.
It was, frankly, the perfect of all worlds for all fans ... Giants fans got a chance to see him hit a ball halfway back home, and Angels fans got the satisfaction of knowing he didn't pull out their hearts and show them to their owners.
And finally, there's ...
And the fourth thing is, The Damned Monkey Made A Comeback.
Oh, traditionalists and other old clots will credit Anderson, and later Salmon, for the Angels avoiding the shame of blowing a five-run lead, but those folks who watch baseball to see how the marketing department is doing got to credit the Rally Monkey for avenging his failure of the night before.
This matters because the Giants have no commensurate gimmick. Someone is trying to start a campaign for a Rally Chicken, but this person (or
persons) should, of course, be jailed.
The Giants had prided themselves for years on not needing outside stimulants to prod their heroic employees to greater feats, but abandoned that with a useless mascot (Lou Seal), a useless canine navy (dogs that were supposed to swim in McCovey Cove and retrieve all the hundreds of home run balls hit there, only to find out that only 23 have been hit and have been scooped up by litigious scuba divers), and an immense baseball glove behind the left field pavilion that not even Bonds himself could reach with a driver and sand wedge.
So maybe there is actually a ...
A fifth thing, that This Is Still About The Game. The first two games have been properly weird, each side has one, and now it's first-team-to-three.
Or, more precisely, first-team-to-get-its-starter-into-the-seventh.
Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com