10/26/2002 12:51 pm ET
Press Row: Pitching the key
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
The World Series hits just keep coming. And we're not talking low TV ratings. We're talking batters' bats battering pitchers like batting practice.
Pitchers' duels? Oh sure. But only in pre-game warmups.
Maybe the Angels' Kevin Appier can ape the Rally Monkey and hoist Anaheim back into a tie before the cage is closed for good, but few of America's scribes foresee anything resembling a classic low-scoring battle in Game 6.
As for the Series MVP? Try Giants' batboy and lucky charm Darren Baker on for size. Most Valuable Pipsqueak.
Mark Whicker of Anaheim's Orange County Register:
"Good pitching beats good hitting, but let's not change the subject.
"The pitchers who go to the mound in this World Series, and who are being treated by Anthony Edwards and Noah Wyle an hour later, are perhaps the least qualified corps to get this assignment in decades.
"The truth is that we usually see great starting pitchers. After watching the Giants and Angels put more round objects in orbit than Wernher Von Braun, perhaps we'll appreciate those pitchers in the future.
"Paging Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux ..."
Larry Stone of the Seattle Times also had fun with it:
"Maybe there are more purists out there than we realized, connoisseurs of the art of stately pitching. Because if there's one thing this Series has lacked -- other than enforcement of child labor laws regarding bat boys -- it is hurling that doesn't make you want to hurl.
"Shouldn't there be at least one starting pitcher in the house who can take over a game, shut down the bats, end the madness?
"Not yet, and now the World Series could end tonight if San Francisco wins at Edison Field. The odds of a quality start breaking out aren't good, what with the Angels' Kevin Appier opposing the Giants' Russ Ortiz, two pitchers whose combined statistics for their first starts are 3 2/3 innings, 14 hits, 12 runs, and four home runs allowed.
"We're not talking Don Larsen. We're barely talking Don Knotts."
While the Angels seem to be left with only one wing and a prayer, they feel they've got the Giants right where they want 'em to be -- one game ahead.
Cheryl Rosenberg Neubert of the Register:
"The Angels never thought they'd be anywhere else today than down to their final breath, fighting for air and the chance to play another game.
"That has been the story of their season. They bobbed and weaved through the year, avoiding countless knockout punches only to counter with their own surprise left hook.
"This time, there are no second chances. If they do not defeat the San Francisco Giants today in Game 6 of the World Series to force a Game 7 on Sunday, the Angels are done, their fingers bare, their season a disappointment because they failed to capture the ultimate ring.
"So who will lead the Angels today? Who will be the guy to step forward and deliver? The answer is no one. And everyone."
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle says Giants fans are already trumpeting a world championship, but cautions about sour notes:
"You don't want to get too giddy yet. Trust us here. You want to take your psyche confidently into Game 6, but without too much of a swagger.
"You will not listen to reason. You are partying like the Angels' team ERA is 19.99. You are so desperate to dance that you tried to find a 24-hour caterer.
"You're not going to wait at all, and everybody in the house knows it. So you stand on your roof and scream over the screams of your neighbors.
"The San Francisco Giants Are On The Verge Of Winning Their First World Series Ever! Forty-Eight Years Of Watching Champagne Happen To Someone Else Can End In 36 Hours! Willie McCovey Is Avenged! Loma Prieta Was Just The Earth Shifting In Its Seat A Little Bit! Order The Camembert And The Red Tail Ale, Margaret! It's Right There, So Close They Can Drink It!
"But you still know it's wrong. The Angels have been cuffed around twice, and the face of their Series has turned from Tim Salmon and Scott Spiezio to Jarrod Washburn and Ben Weber, but they're still too hard-minded a team to take lightly. You assume the best at your peril."
Meantime, expect little Darren to be buckled up in a child's safety seat in the Giants' dugout:
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times noted Game 6 will not be child's play:
"Darren Baker, the cute and cuddly 3-year-old son of San Francisco Giant Manager Dusty Baker who was nearly trampled near home plate in the seventh inning of Game 5 Thursday night in Pacific Bell Park, will be back in the Giants' dugout as a batboy for Game 6 tonight in Edison Field, but with a short leash.
"Baker's mother scolded Dusty after the game, and Baker's wife urged Dusty to keep Darren in the dugout, but the admonishment with the highest impact came in a telephone call to Baker on Friday from Sandy Alderson, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of operations.
"'He's going to be allowed to be a batboy this weekend,'" said Baker, whose team is 8-0 with Darren as batboy and doesn't want to mess with baseball superstition. "'But I have to monitor him a little closer.'"
On the managerial front, Ross Newhan of the Los Angeles Times notes Lou Piniella (Tampa Bay) and Ken Macha (A's) are spoken for, but that the Brewers, Mariners and Cubs are still looking for leadership:
"The Brewers ... Arizona bench coach Bob Melvin and Atlanta third base coach Ned Yost are thought to be the front-runners for a task more foreboding than trying to pick a winner in the nightly sausage race at Miller Park.
"The Mariners have a long list of candidates, including such former managers as Don Baylor, Cito Gaston, Phil Garner and Lee Elia, along with Angel pitching coach Bud Black.
"The Chicago Cubs may have Bobby Valentine as a fallback, have put their search on hold because of a willingness to do what the Mets wouldn't, which is wait to talk with Baker when he becomes a free agent."
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.