10/03/2002 7:39 pm ET
MLBeat: Memories of Millwood
Baker, Sabean contract talk continues to swirl
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The last time the Giants saw Atlanta's Kevin Millwood, they scored four runs off him in 5 2/3 innings and the right-hander did not earn a decision in a May 13 start at Pacific Bell Park. But after that point, he posted a 16-4 record, returning to his form prior to the 2000 season.
"He has better control now and his ball has movement," said Giants manager Dusty Baker. "When a guy throws as hard as he does and has pretty good control of his fastball, the key is if he's getting his breaking ball over or not. If he gets his breaking ball over, he can be very tough. Let's face it, if you're Millwood and you're watching [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine pitch, you're going to learn something just through osmosis."
Sure, the Giants have the benefit of a one-game lead, but Baker knows his team was in the same position in 2000 (albeit the win was at home) and it lost the series to the Wild Card Mets.
"I've been on teams that were up 2-1 and lost and I've been on teams that were down 2-1 and came back and won," he said before realizing that he's still pleased to be in this position. "It's better than 0-1."
Though many believe that the Giants should be content with a split on the road, they don't see it that way.
"I think as a player, you try to just take every game as it comes," said David Bell, who had two hits in Game 1. "I don't know anybody in here who, even before [Wednesday's win], wanted a split. We want to win both games."
Back in the news: Despite the fact that Baker hoped to avoid discussion of his contract, which expires at the end of the postseason, the topic of his future was raised again Thursday when a report in the San Francisco Chronicle claimed that the team has already decided to offer contracts to both Baker and general manager Brian Sabean.
Team officials in Atlanta would not comment on the matter, as they are trying to avoid any distractions during the playoffs. But Sabean does not have that same fear and is not annoyed that the subject continues to come up despite efforts to quiet the rumors.
"We went through it in 2000," he said. "It just happens to be that we're in the same boat (in the playoffs). I think the guys in uniform could care less. They're too experienced. I don't think it's even a second thought."
Sabean, like Baker, admitted that he's still in the process of deciding whether or not he wants to return. Both insist that they still have not yet made up their minds. But Baker took no solace in the news report of a contract offer.
"Is it comforting? I mean, how truthful is it when nobody's told you and I heard it on ESPN? You know what I'm saying? Either way it doesn't really affect me too much...
"That doesn't put no more pressure on me that you've got to go deep into the playoffs to be offered a contract. If that's the case, then (Atlanta manager) Bobby Cox, if he didn't win the World Series (more than once), he wouldn't be offered a contract."
With openings in Chicago and New York, Baker will surely receive lucrative offers if he decides to test the market. But he doesn't seem concerned with dollar figures.
"I'm going to make x amount of money anyway," said Baker, who receives an average of $2.75 million per year. "It's not all money. There's a lot of variables and factors: how close they are to winning, how close are they to keep winning, what kind of minor league system, the town, my family, conditions.
"Everybody just puts everything on money. I guess that's the American way, but everything's not money."
TV talk: Game 3 has been set for 1:06 p.m. PT at Pacific Bell Park, but Sunday's start time for Game 4 remains up in the air because the television networks always prefer to carry the Yankees during prime time.
"It's a function of the world of television we live in," said executive vice president and chief operating officer Larry Bear. "The cruel reality is that the television networks pay a lot of money for the rights and they want to be able to choose which game they air."
Sunday's Game 4 will begin at 1:06 p.m. and be shown on ABC Family or ESPN, unless the Yankees and Angels series (currently 1-1) is complete. If that is the case, the game will begin at 4:30 p.m. PT and be shown on FOX. If a Game 5 is necessary, it will be played in Atlanta on Monday at 5 p.m. PT and be broadcast by FOX .
Josh Rawitch is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.