Fall Classic gives everyone chance to make a name
Anaheim, Calif. ? J.T. Snow just chuckled as the compliments poured in.
He’d made a nice, backhanded stop on Chipper Jones’ grounder to start a double play that clinched the first round of the playoffs. The next day, the San Francisco first baseman heard people all over raving about his defense.
“Not to be rude or anything, but I’ve made about a thousand plays better than that in my career,” the six-time Gold Glover said. “It was almost like people had never seen me.
“But it’s that West Coast vs. East Coast thing,” he said. “When our games start, half the country is already asleep.”
No more. Starting Saturday night, everyone will be watching and noticing when Snow and the Giants play the Anaheim Angels in Game 1 of the World Series.
It’s about time, too. Because beyond Barry Bonds, there are a lot of deserving players here still waiting to make big names for themselves.
Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus and Darin Erstad all have done huge things for Anaheim. But really, it’s a good bet that some fans are more aware of Shane Spencer, simply because he plays for the Yankees and always seems to show up in October.
“I live in L.A., and three weeks ago, I didn’t know any of the Angels,” said Michael Weisman, coordinating producer of Fox’s baseball coverage.
“For us, this will be a challenge. It’ll be the no-names against the one name that everybody knows,” he said.
All it takes is one clutch hit or one key play to change that. Sure worked for the likes of Craig Counsell, Scott Brosius and Mark Lemke over the years.
Or maybe one memorable game on the mound. If that happens, even casual fans will be able to tell Russ Ortiz from Ramon Ortiz.
“Some people have gotten us confused,” said Russ, whose 14 victories tied for the Giants’ lead. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, you’re the one who pitches for the Angels.”‘
Jarrod Washburn will start the opener for Anaheim. At 18-6 with a 3.15 ERA, he was excellent this year. He also exemplifies these wild-card Angels successful and unheralded.
Consider this: Of the eight teams to make the playoffs, 99-win Anaheim was the only one that did not have someone picked as a Player of the Week.
“I mean, we were under the radar all season long and it didn’t bother us. We kind of like being the unknown team,” Washburn said. “I think we kind of all thought that if we just go out there and do what we know we’re capable of doing, pretty soon everyone’s going to know about us.”