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October
21st
2002
Out of the Frying Pan
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The Game That Doesn't End

by Jessica Polko

This is the game that doesn't end,
yes, it goes on and on, my friend,
some people started watching it not knowing what it was,
and they'll continue watching it, forever just because,
this is the game that doesn't end,
yes, it goes on and on, my friend. . .

		-Parody of Norman Martin's "The Song That Doesn't End"
Of course, Sunday's game did end a little less than four hours after it began. However, as the first inning progressed and the announcers talked of the longest World Series game in history, that little ditty popped into my head. Despite the annoying nature of the song, I also was quite excited at the possibility of a game of record-breaking length.

Luckily, while the game didn't end until close to midnight here, kids in California were likely able to stay up until the last out. With both World Series' teams on the west coast, the habit of playing games during prime time for the purposes of increasing the television value won't interfere with most young fans of the teams involved watching the game on TV. Baseball in California should receive a hefty influx of young enthusiasts as a result of this Series.

Additionally, while the Golden State already provides a good number of prospects because the weather allows play in all seasons, the additional interest in the game may mean that the region will turn out many more promising players a decade from now. Who wants to play soccer when you can be like David Eckstein? Why play basketball or football when Barry Bonds is working on setting a new career home run record that you can one day chase? With ever-growing competition for the interest of young people, baseball is very lucky to have this opportunity to grow the sport.

Sunday's Fox broadcast opened with a combination promo for the game and the sequel to the latest Charlie's Angels' movie. Daniel Rodriguez, the police officer from Manhattan South Precinct who gained acclaim as "America's tenor" after singing at last year's World Series, was there to sing the anthem.

Leading off the game, Kenny Lofton attempted to take first base after striking out, as he thought he'd walked on a 3-2 pitch until corrected. Then David Eckstein dove to stop a grounder hit by counterpart Rich Aurilia, throwing to first to get the second out. The game seemed off to an unremarkable start as Kevin Appier retired the top three batters in the San Francisco order, a feat achieved by the starter facing the Giants in five previous playoff games this October. I strongly disapprove of Dusty Baker's lineup decision to bat Bonds fourth, as there are frequently already two outs even when he is able to bat in the first inning, allowing the other team to easily walk him to pitch to Benito Santiago.

After losing the night before, the rally monkey was working on the leadoff batter in the first inning of Game 2. Eckstein singled to start an offensive barrage that would cause starter Russ Ortiz to leave in the second inning after throwing 47 pitches. Darin Erstad doubled and then Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson, Brad Fullmer, and Scott Spiezio all singled. Fullmer scored on a two-part mistake by Santiago. Spiezio took off to steal second during Ben Molina's at-bat. Santiago threw to second to stop the steal without even checking the runner at third, Fullmer stole home, and Spiezio was safe at second due to a high throw that Adam Kennedy barely gloved.

The first inning ended on a play that the announcers commented "you could go 10 years without seeing". However there was no replay until Adam Kennedy's next at-bat. Kennedy ducked out of the way of the pitch, which otherwise would have hit him. The pitch hit the bat behind his head and rebounded forward, landing in fair territory. Kennedy was thrown out before he knew what had happened.

Appier's arm must have grown cold while waiting for the first to end. He issued a walk to Bonds to lead off the second. Although he retired Santiago, Appier then allowed a single to J.T. Snow before giving up a homer to Reggie Sanders, who apparently was saving his offense for the World Series. David Bell followed Sanders with a solo shot. Lofton made it to base, but Appier was able to close out the inning with the Angels still in the lead by one.

Back at the top of the order again, Eckstein bunted for a single to lead off the top of the second. Erstad hit a flyout, but Salmon followed with a two-run homer, putting the Angels up 7-4. Ortiz remained in the game until Glaus hit a double, at which point the Giants brought in Chad Zerbe, who closed out the inning.

John Lackey relieved Appier at the top of the third. Jeff Kent, not wanting to be left out of the offensive barrage, led off the inning with a solo homer. No other runs would score that inning and both relievers escaped the fourth without further scoring, each allowing only one hit. However, Lackey ran into trouble when San Francisco returned to the top of their order in the fifth. Lackey allowed a double to Aurilia, and although he struck out Kent, he was pulled from the game after issuing an intentional walk to Bonds. Ben Weber came out to relieve Lackey, but he failed to stop the bleeding as the Giants scored four runs on five hits to put them in the lead for the first time that night.

Glaus hit a line drive off Zerbe to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Fullmer then hit a line drive to centerfield, but Lofton bobbled the ball and Glaus was able to make it to third. Glaus dove into the base and possibly rolled over the ball. He appeared to be in considerable pain after his ill-advised move, although he remained in the game and scored on a Spiezio sac fly.

Francisco Rodriguez relieved Weber at the top of the sixth, struck out Aurilia and Kent, and caused Bonds to ground out to first on the only pitch of the at-bat. The Angels put together another couple hits in the bottom of the inning for another run, tying the game.

KRod gave further credence to his nickname in the seventh, adding two more strikeouts to his total while also inducing a groundout to remain perfect through two innings. San Francisco removed Chad Zerbe from the game in the sixth, but his performance deserves mention as the reliever pitched four innings with only four hits allowed, though he neither walked nor struck out anyone. Zerbe allowed two runs, though one was unearned due to the Lofton error and the other was from a baserunner who scored after he left the game.

Felix Rodriguez came in to pitch the seventh for San Francisco. Aside from walking Brad Fullmer, he shut down the Angels' scoring machine. During his plate appearance, Fullmer fouled off a ball into the stands that Royals' Hall of Fame 3B George Brett caught.

Although there were no strikeouts involved in the inning, KRod went out for the eighth to pitch his third perfect inning of relief. Tim Salmon got a piece of a Felix pitch in the bottom of the inning with Eckstein again on base, hitting his second two-run homer of the game and putting KRod in position for his fifth win of the postseason. Anaheim then brought in Troy Percival to close out the game in the ninth. Barry Bonds hit a solo homer with two outs, but the Giants were unable to continue the rally and lost 11-10.

Anaheim also dropped the first game of both the Division Series and the ALCS before winning game two of each series. Rally Monkey Syndrome appears to have either infected their entire club or the disease is a direct product of their play. At this point, I'm beginning to reconsider our predicted champion. Given Mike Scioscia has described the Angels as a National League club playing in the American League, I am anxious to see how Anaheim performs under NL rules in San Francisco.

Click here to read the previous article.

I can't please all the people all of the time, but I am more than willing to read the comments of the pleased, the irate, and everyone in between. You can send your opinions to jess@rotohelp.com.
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