Governor Acts Like a Fan
Among the luminaries making Dodger Stadium an “in” place to be seen again were Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Laker Rick Fox and actor John Goodman.
Schwarzenegger was shown on the video board along with his family -- his wife, Maria Shriver, was sporting a pink Dodger hat -- in the bottom of the sixth inning after Shawn Green’s second home run. A strange buzz of surprised cheers and muted boos arose from the gathering of 55,992, the largest crowd for a Dodger home game since Game 2 of the 1988 World Series.
Although the Dodgers, Angels and New York Yankees got all the headlines in their pursuit of Randy Johnson, the St. Louis Cardinals quietly pursued the five-time Cy Young Award winner before the July 31 trading deadline.
At the time, the Yankees and Cardinals were the only teams comfortably ahead in playoff races. Johnson had said he would consider waiving his no-trade clause for to join a team with a real -- “not theoretical” -- chance of advancing to the World Series, and the Cardinals considered an ace the one component missing from an already formidable team.
“Randy was the one guy we identified that we wanted,” St. Louis General Manager Walt Jocketty said. “We didn’t have enough in player personnel to acquire him, and we didn’t have enough payroll to assume his contract. Otherwise, it would have been perfect.”
Jocketty said the Cardinals set their trading priorities as an ace, another setup man and another hitter. When he failed to address the first two areas, he acquired outfielder Larry Walker, with the Colorado Rockies agreeing to pay $9.35 million of the $17 million remaining on his contract. The Arizona Diamondbacks told clubs interested in trading for Johnson that they would not pay any of the $16 million left on his contract.
“I don’t think he really wanted to go anywhere,” St. Louis closer Jason Isringhausen said. “And, at the time, we had five perfectly good starters. [Chris] Carpenter is a little messed up now, but all five starters won 10 games, and four won 15.
“When we added Walker, we added another tooth in the shark’s mouth.”
Although the Angels were eliminated from the playoffs Friday, the Molina brothers still can carry the family banner into the World Series.
As the Angels worked out before the 2002 World Series, Yadier Molina stood in the Angel dugout, wearing a sweatshirt and watching his brothers practice. That scenario could reverse itself this year, with rookie Yadier -- the younger brother of Angel catchers Bengie and Jose Molina -- serving as the Cardinals’ backup catcher.
The Cardinals promoted Molina, 22, from triple-A Memphis in June to replace injured starter Mike Matheny.
“We wanted to bring him up for a couple weeks and give him some experience,” Jocketty said. “He did so well we decided to keep him.”
Molina hit .267 in 51 games and threw out eight of 16 runners. Matheny, the incumbent, is eligible for free agency after the season.
“We hope to re-sign him,” Jocketty said. “If we don’t, we think Yadier could catch next year. He’s a very smart kid.
“It’s a great story. His parents have got to be pretty proud to have three boys in the big leagues.”
Dodger Manager Jim Tracy was managing the Montreal Expos’ double-A team in Harrisburg, Pa., in 1993 when it lost the first two games of a best-of-five playoff series.
“I told my players then the same thing I told our guys now -- we have to win or tie every inning,” Tracy told Fox announcers Thom Brennaman and Tim McCarver before Saturday’s game.
His Harrisburg team came back to win that series.
The Dodgers have seemingly had their backs to the wall all season, as evidenced by their 53 come-from-behind wins. But being down 0-2 in a best-of-three series was a different animal.
“We’ve been in tough spots, not obviously as tough as this one,” Robin Ventura said. “But we’ve been in tough spots during the year and been able to bounce back. You realize each game is its own game.... You don’t have to win three in one day.”
Times staff writer Larry Stewart contributed to this report