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World Series 2001
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10/29/2001 04:58 AM ET
Mayo: A Damian good gig
Johnson and Miller were quite a charged battery Sunday.
PHOENIX -- He may not realize it right now, in the thick of it, but some day, Damian Miller will truly understand what he's been a part of.

As of this moment, he does understand that in catching Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson back-to-back in the World Series (not to mention all year), he's got a pretty decent gig.

"It doesn't suck, that's for sure," Miller said. "I have the chance to catch both guys who won 20 games. When they pitch, good things can happen. I caught Randy when he struck out 20. There's always a chance of a no-hitter. They're that good."

They've been that good for the entire season, better once the playoffs began. As Arizona's two aces have played, "Can you top this?" to send the D-Backs into the World Series and give them a 2-0 lead against the Yankees, Miller has had the best seat in the house right behind the plate.

"When Curt is on and Randy is on, I go unnoticed," Miller said. "When the catcher goes unnoticed, that's a good thing.

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"The job description: We're the right or left guard on the football team. We take foul tips off our body. No one cares except other catchers and the pitcher. That's the way we like it."

Miller's receiving abilities are overlooked no longer, partially because of the national spotlight of the postseason, partially because of the seasons Johnson and Schilling have had, and partially because he's gotten a chance to play regularly.

Remember, this was a guy who scuffled through the Minnesota Twins farm system, finally getting a few at-bats in 1997 when he was already 27. He was left unprotected in the expansion draft and was taken by Arizona. He appeared in just 58 games in the D-Backs' inaugural season. The following year, 1999, saw his playing time increase and by 2000, he was Arizona's No. 1 backstop. He has only cemented his role this year.

"I've come a long way in my career," Miller said. "I thought I could do it if given the opportunity. The team I came from, maybe they miss me, but I'm glad it happened."

So are Arizona's two aces, no matter how much Miller tries to deflect credit:

"I've caught [Randy] for three years. He's won two Cy Youngs in two years. That makes me feel pretty good, not that I had a lot to do with it."


"One day, I'll look back and realize I caught one, maybe two Hall of Famers. And I'll look back at this season, when we made it to the World Series and I caught two 20-game winners. They're pitching as well as anybody has in a long time, as well as they have in a long time."

--Diamondbacks catcher Damian Miller

But Johnson and Schilling would be quick to rave about Miller's ability. Those who haven't heard of Damian Miller just don't follow the game.

"That's just people outside the game," Schilling said about those who think Miller is unknown. "People in the game know how good he is. It would be a crime if he didn't win the Gold Glove.

"It's very comfortable [throwing to him]. He's right up there with any defensive catcher I've ever thrown to. I think the best compliment I can give him is that I never think twice about throwing a ball in the dirt with a runner on third. I can just throw what I want to throw."

So far just about everything Schilling and Johnson have thrown has worked. This scenario - the two aces going 1-2 in the World Series and pitching the Diamondbacks to a 2-0 lead - is exactly what Arizona management had in mind when Schilling came to town to join Johnson.

"That's why we brought him over here," Miller said. "This is what Joe Garagiola, Jr. saw. He sacrificed some pretty good players to Philadelphia to bring him over. We rode (Schilling and Johnson) all season."

And Miller is not embarrassed to say the Diamondbacks will happily ride to a title on their coattails.

"Whatever it takes to win," Miller said. "We know the horses we have. If we're going to ride them, we'll ride them. If it comes down to riding those guys, fine."

What about critics who will say the Diamondbacks weren't that good of a team, that they won only because of two players?

"I don't care," Miller said. "Guess what? We'd have a championship."

Maybe once that happens, if it happens, Miller will be able to have a little perspective. He'll be able to reflect on this season, and just how special it's been to be on the receiving end of all those pitching masterpieces.

"One day, I'll look back and realize I caught one, maybe two Hall of Famers. And I'll look back at this season, when we made it to the World Series and I caught two 20-game winners. They're pitching as well as anybody has in a long time, as well as they have in a long time.

"My family is here. They're more excited and more nervous than I am. They see the magnitude more than I do because we have a job to do.

"One day, I'll look back and say, 'Wow, that was awesome.'"

Jonathan Mayo is a senior writer for MLB.com.