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World Series 2001
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11/04/2001 01:09 AM ET
Hidden conversation: Jay Witasick and Byung-Hyun Kim
By Troy E. Renck
Left Field PHOENIX -- Byung-Hyun Kim and Jay Witasick are feeling decidedly helpless.

Hours after a public flogging by the Arizona Diamondbacks pushed this latest edition of the World Series to the ledge, the pair sits on bar stools shaking their heads, sipping away their sorrows.

Sensing their pain, a bloodshot patron attempts to inject 40ccs of humor.

"You know if you are infamous," he says, "it means you are more than famous."

Neither laughs.

There is nothing particularly funny about what has happened to them over the last few days. It's the kind of stuff you wouldn't wish on your ex-wife's attorney. In Game 4, Kim, a nice kid from Korea, transformed Derek Jeter into Mr. November with one stroke at midnight. Twenty-four hours later, despite unleashing 61 pitches, Kim was back on the mound again.

There he starred in "Groundhog Day," watching with a whiplashed neck as Scott Brosius crushed a game-tying homer in the ninth. Following the most improbable sequel, Kim bowed his head and clasped his hands to the face. His posture told the story -- but not as well as the headline in South Korea's leading newspaper. In a word, it read: NO!

On Sunday, Witasick played Charlie Brown to Arizona's Lucy. The good news is that he recorded four outs. The bad news? Nine runs crossed the plate before he staggered into the dugout.

Anxious to see how both are holding up, we wiretapped a coaster. Here's what we discovered:

KIM: People don't understand. They say they do. But they don't. There's nothing like closing a game. Breathing becomes second nature, palms become sweaty and pupils dilate. It's like bungee jumping without a cord. All those local TV stations think it makes me feel better to see psychologists on every news broadcast? I'll give them some Freud for thought. There's nothing to soothe this pain.

All I can say is mistakes happen.

WITASICK: I know a lot about mistakes. The Boss has been calling me one ever since I arrived by trade. I thought it would be great to play for the Yankees. After I came off the field, I heard a rumor that they are going to replace me in the pen next year with Danny Almonte. Apparently, they want someone older, with more experience.

KIM: No you didn't. You didn't just make a horribly camouflaged attempt to inspire sympathy. So you were responsible for more hits than Elvis? Big deal. People are comparing me to Calvin Schiraldi. Of all the Longhorns to be linked to -- Roger Clemens, Bruce Ruffin, Greg Swindell -- I end up with a former Red Sox. Last I heard, Calvin was working at Blockbuster. I am not sure what that means exactly, but it can't be good.

WITASICK: Oh, stop. At least your teammates bull rushed to your defense. They talked you up in the press, protected you from fang-bearing columnists and showed you some love. Mark Grace never gave me a hug. Heck, I didn't know I was still on the World Series roster until (Manager Joe) Torre sent me out there on Saturday. How bad is it? I had to show three forms of ID and an American Express card to board the charter at La Guardia.

KIM: Two words: Mitch Williams. Don't be crying me a river. If we don't win Sunday, my legacy will conjure up images of a guy with a mullet. Just call me "Joe Dirt."

WITASICK: At least you will show up periodically on those ESPN Classic flicks. Something tells me that the Game 6 tapes will be placed in a box alongside OP Corduroy shorts and parachute pants that reads thusly: IN CASE OF FIRE, LEAVE THIS. Hello, I made my debut in the third inning when the Diamondbacks scored eight runs, the most by a team since 1968.

KIM: Jay, one more thing. Those eight hits you allowed in the frame are the most ever allowed by a pitcher in one inning of a World Series game. You knocked Joe Wood, circa 1912, out of the record books. Not Kerry. Joe. Not that I was counting or anything.

WITASICK: OK, funny guy, you want to get personal? You've heard of the The Curse of the Bambino? You are the Cash of the Bambino. With two pitches, you made Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius more money than Well's Fargo.

KIM: I do my part.

WITASICK: Hey, what would you be doing if you weren't here?

KIM: Probably serving in the military. And you?

WITASICK: Playing for the Padres.

KIM AND WITASICK: Maybe infamy isn't that bad after all.

Troy E. Renck is a reporter for