10/26/2002 8:07 pm ET
MLBeat: Baker not playing favorites
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It would be hard to find critics of Dusty Baker these days, what with his team one game from its first world championship since 1954. But those that do knock Baker often do so because they believe he is too loyal to veteran players like Shawon Dunston, who struggled mightily during the regular season in a pinch-hitting role but finds himself as the designated hitter in Game 6.
"Ain't no time for no sentimentality now," said Baker when asked if that played a part in naming Dunston the starter against Kevin Appier. "That was a baseball decision. I played him last time (in Game 2 because) he's done well against Appier. If there's some sentimentality involved, I'd have played Yorvit Torrealba tonight and found a way to get him in the World Series or the playoffs."
Barring an injury to Benito Santiago, Torrealba will be the only player on either team that has been eligible to play in the postseason, but has not. But Baker can ill afford to risk an injury to his backup catcher. With Dunston, who is 3-for-7 in his career against Appier, Baker knows he can turn him loose and expect nothing less than 100 percent.
"I'm going to try to go up there hacking like I usually do," said Dunston with a smile. "You want to see some pitches to see how hard he throws. I'm not a walker, so I'm going to go up there hacking."
Baker has not allowed himself to give thought to how close his team is to winning, but should the Giants jump on Appier early, it could cross his mind.
"You start thinking about it depending on the lead," he said, adding that the body language of the Angels will also be a tell tale sign. "You feel it and they feel it, too."
President and managing general partner Peter Magowan can feel it as well, having been a fan of the team since his childhood in New York.
"I don't think any fans in the country deserve this more than ours," he said from outside the visitor's dugout at Edison Field Saturday. "They've been very patient, waiting 45 years. I think I have a sense, as a fan, for how much pent up frustration on the one hand and the elation, satisfaction on the other hand if we're able to pull this off."
But Magowan said he could handle falling to the Angels Saturday, if he knew for a fact that his team would win a seventh and deciding game.
"If you give me a choice between winning it in six and playing seven, I would say winning it in six," he said. "But if you tell me we're going to win in seven, I wouldn't mind losing this game."
Scene from the field: Giants hater and Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda chatted on the field before Game 6 with Mickey Hatcher, the Anaheim coach who was one of the many heroes on the 1988 World Championship Dodgers.
There's no doubt that Lasorda, a former left-handed pitcher, gave tips to the one-time Dodger farmhand, Chad Zerbe, who is now in the Giants' bullpen. In fact, Zerbe and Felix Rodriguez were batterymates at Single-A Vero Beach in 1993.
What a difference a decade makes.
"When he was a catcher, he had a great arm but I would never think we'd wind up on the same team, in the World Series, pitching in the same game," said Zerbe, who shared the sixth inning with Rodriguez in Game 5. "They released [us] and you're with their rival and you're in the World Series and they're not -- it kind of makes it sweet for us."
Good morning, Anaheim: Comedian and Bay Area resident Robin Williams shared some laughs in the Giants dugout before Game 6 with Bobby Bonds. As the two chatted and Bonds did his best impression of Williams in the movie, "Good Morning Vietnam," a crowd of reporters gathered around eagerly awaiting a quote from the actor.
When Williams turned around to see dozens of people listening in on his humor, he reverted to his days in the comedy club scene by quipping, "Three drink minimum ... For the (Barry Bonds) earring fund."
But he also admitted he made the trip to Anaheim hoping to bring the Giants some luck from their hometown.
"When they played in Candlestick where they used to lose balls in the fog, I went to a couple games," he said. "And a lot of times you'd lose players, too. You had nipples the moment you walked into the stadium. It was slightly cold."
Josh Rawitch is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.