10/23/2002 1:07 pm ET
Press Row: Double-themed Series
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
After finishing 41 games out of first place last year, the Angels accepted manager Mike Scioscia's plan to reinvent the team's approach to the game.
As a result, the Angels are two wins away from being world champs, and as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com wrote, it's no fluke: "You should not get the impression, however, that this stuff they do every night is one gigantic nine-man coincidence.
"It is by design that pretty much the whole lineup beats everyone but the trainers to the park. It is by design that they choke up and shorten their strokes with two strikes. It is by design that they think they're entitled to two bases on every hit unless served with a temporary restraining order. It is by design that they think the object every night is to wear down the opposition just by being so darned relentless in everything they do.
"In an age marked by big swings and big numbers, in an age dominated by home runs and strikeouts, the Angels don't fit. In most clubhouses, it would be easier to sell 1,000 shares of Enron than it would be to sell this little-ball stuff. Not in this one, though. Not when they're a year removed from finishing 41 games out of first place."
Coming into the series, the key questions were whether Barry Bonds or the Angels would step up in their long-awaited opportunity for October glory. So far, as Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, they both have: "Barry Bonds is off on his own adventure, headed for some distant realm of the supernatural, but the job gets more difficult now. He'll have to take the shell-shocked Giants along with him.
"In what has become a distinctly double-themed World Series, Anaheim has a 2-1 lead and Bonds has the floor. He crushed yet another titanic home run Tuesday night, making some history in the process, while the Angels ran wildly around the bases in a 10-4 rout at Pacific Bell Park."
San Francisco Chronicle colleague Scott Ostler contined that theme: "The only difference between the two teams right now is that, aside from Bonds, the Giants are being outplayed at every position.
"Barry came into the Series hoping -- expecting -- to live up to the New Barry expectations, and he has. A homer per game, each of them an absolute monster blast.
"The Angels, though, are catching on. They walked him in the first inning with runners on first and third and one out. They walked him again with two outs in the seventh with a 9-4 lead. They just don't want to let him start feeling too good.
"If this keeps up, Bonds will get the MVP trophy and the Angels will get the other trophy."
The television networks missed it, but there was a little bad news for the Angels, as Bill Shakin of the Los Angeles Times reported: "Ramon Ortiz, in line to start a possible Game 7 of the World Series, is scheduled for an examination today after complaining of stiffness in his right wrist Tuesday.
"Ortiz earned the victory Tuesday, pitching the first five innings of the Angels' 10-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the World Series. During the fourth and fifth innings, catcher Benjie Molina said he noticed that the velocity on Ortiz's fastball had dropped from 94-95 mph to 88-89 mph, and he asked the pitcher what might be wrong.
"He told me his wrist was bothering him a little bit," Molina said.
"Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Angels' medical director, said Ortiz would be examined today. He said Ortiz already is on anti-inflammatory treatment routine to pitchers."
Meanwhile, six managerial openings remain, and the key man in filling them is Alan Nero, the agent for Lou Piniella, Art Howe and Ken Macha. All three of them figure to have a job when the dust settles, as Bill Madden and Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News reported: "Now, in this game of managerial musical chairs, Macha will take over in Oakland and Howe, who will earn $1.5 million next season, likely will get a two-year contract from the Mets.
"Meanwhile, Piniella will be well-compensated for the daunting rebuilding task in Tampa Bay. Piniella could not be reached for comment yesterday, but his agent, Alan Nero, acknowledged from Tampa that the Devil Rays had greatly reduced the chances of Piniella coming to New York.
"We had a very good meeting," Nero told The News, "and I'd say a deal with the Devil Rays is about 95% done."
If Piniella, Howe and Macha wind up with Tampa Bay, New York and Oakland, that leaves the Brewers, Cubs and Mariners still searching. Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel listed the candidates interviewed to date: "Besides Macha, the Brewers interviewed New York Yankees third-base coach Willie Randolph; Brewers bench coach Cecil Cooper; Atlanta third-base coach Ned Yost; and Arizona bench coach Bob Melvin."
Mike Kiley of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that Melvin also is the likely favorite for the Cubs job, unless Dusty Baker becomes available. Macha also received permission to speak with Seattle, as reported by John Hickey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who added that Mariners general manager Pat Gillick also contacted Mariners coaches John McLaren and Bryan Price about interviews for the job.
The Wild Card in the managerial situation is Baker if he does not return to the Giants.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.