10/04/2002 11:28 am ET
Press Row: Angels hang tough
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Offdays during a baseball postseason require participants to speak with the media, and the media to make sense of what was said.
Here are some highlights of Thursday's interaction at Edison International Field, where the Yankees and Angels resume their American League Division Series on Friday night, tied at a game apiece.
We'll start with a Hall of Fame baseball writer, who has covered the Angels virtually since their inception, and points out why the Yankees are having so much trouble beating them.
Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times: "It was on the eve of the division series between the Angels and Yankees that New York manager Joe Torre said the true profile of his 2002 team can be found on the mound and not in the batter's box.
"The Yankees may have occasionally awakened echoes of the Bronx Bombers while leading the American League in runs and finishing second in home runs, but Torre said, "I'd like to think the profile of this team is pitching."
"He would add, "This is the best staff I've ever had."
"No one will dispute the quantity and quality of a staff that can afford to put Jeff Weaver and Orlando Hernandez in the bullpen and not include Sterling Hitchcock on the division series roster, but at this point of a series that is tied, 1-1, and which they probably should lead, 2-0, Angel hitters are pretty much disfiguring that Yankee profile."
Of course, the Angels also have a manager who has more than a few similarities with Yankees skipper Joe Torre.
Joe Haakenson, San Bernardino Sun: "Tough-minded, hard-headed, stubborn, whatever you want to call it, that's [Mike] Scioscia and it's a mindset that shows in his players as they prepare for Game 3 at 5 tonight at Edison Field.
"Losing Game 1 as the Angels did ... giving up four runs in the eighth inning of an 8-5 loss ... might have sent other teams running for cover. Not these Angels.
"Many Angels players seem surprised when reporters new to their clubhouse say they have come out of nowhere. They respond by saying they have been right here, all season, for anyone who cared."
Scioscia was skewered when his pitching decisions backfired in Game 1, and Thursday it was Torre's turn.
John Harper, New York Daily News: "A day later, Joe Torre couldn't understand any debate about whether he should have left El Duque Hernandez in to pitch the eighth inning on Wednesday night.
"As a matter of fact, at about the time Garret Anderson was launching a game-tying home run off of El Duque, Torre was contemplating whether to leave Duque in for the ninth inning.
"The Yankees would have had to add to their 5-4 lead by a run or two for him to do it, Torre said, but the fact that he was already thinking of such a possibility tells you how convinced he was that El Duque was almost unhittable at that point."
Derek Jeter said he has moved on from the controversial called strike three in the eighth inning of Game 2. Apparently, his management hasn't.
George King, New York Post: "It's no secret the Yankees often send a tape of an umpire's bad call to Major League Baseball headquarters on Park Avenue because that's George Steinbrenner's style.
"Yesterday, the Bombers not only sent GM Brian Cashman downtown with a video but had president Randy Levine call commissioner Bud Selig to complain about the called third strike on Derek Jeter that ended the eighth inning of Wednesday night's Game 2 ALDS with the bases loaded and the Yankees trailing, 7-5."
As if Yankees owner George Steinbrenner doesn't have enough to put him in a bad mood, wait until he reads some of Reggie Jackson's comments.
Bob Klapisch, The Record: "Here it is, 20 years since Reggie [Jackson] last played with the Yankees, and he's still deep into a love-hate relationship with The Boss. These days, Jackson is paid to hang around the Yankees in Spring Training and whenever they're on the West Coast, and even in that limited time frame, Reggie still helps.
"He recounts a brief but telling conversation with Derek Jeter, who came to the slugger last month with questions about his sub-.300 average.
"Jackson said, "Give up on the inside fastball. Stop fighting it. I've seen you hit more ground balls to third and foul inside third than ever before. You used to hit line drives to right -- as hard as a lefty pull hitter. Not anymore, because you look bundled up and tight."
"Jeter never said a word, choosing to let Jackson's advice simmer. The result? He batted .324 down the stretch and is a key element in the current AL Division Series with the Angels. Reggie only wishes Steinbrenner could appreciate his bond with Jeter. But it's a two-decade-old story. It's all about ego in the eternal Reggie-Boss wars.
"I've learned the best way to deal with George is stay out of his way," Jackson said. Actually, he said more than that. With pride, Reggie said he has been in Steinbrenner's company "just two or three times all year. Every time I see him, I turn around and go the other way."
Jeter has made his mark on the national psyche as have few baseball players, at least in the eyes of one sportswriter.
Ken Daley, Dallas Morning News: "It has become cliché in sports for an athlete to declare himself all about winning. But Jeter not only embraces the cliché, he embodies it in a way few professional athletes ever have. In the pantheon of modern winners, there is perhaps Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter ... and who are we forgetting?"
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.