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Angel Nostalgia Must Be Put on Hold for Finley

October 12, 2002|Steve Springer

SAN FRANCISCO — He is a remaining link to the bitter Angel past. And he could find himself in a position to make their future bitter as well.

But none of that will be on Chuck Finley's mind today. He has far more immediate concerns.

Like keeping his current club in contention.

Finley will be on the mound at Pacific Bell Park this afternoon for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of their best-of-seven National League championship series with the San Francisco Giants. Trailing two games to none, with both losses coming at St. Louis, the Cardinals know they must win today to have a realistic chance of advancing to the World Series. No club in baseball history has come back to win a seven-game series after losing the first three.

"I recognize it is what it is," Finley said. "Obviously we would like to have come out here with a split as opposed to where we are."

Finley, 39, doesn't know where he'll be after this season, or if he'll be pitching at all. As of early July, he didn't know he would be in this spot with the Cardinals.

Finley spent 14 seasons with the Angels, beginning in 1985, and then spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Cleveland Indians.

By the All-Star break of this season, the Indians were going nowhere.

"I knew I was going somewhere," Finley said. "[Cleveland General Manager] Mark Shapiro told me he thought I was going to the postseason. First call he gave me ... he told me I was going to the Giants. I said, 'Fine.'

"He called me back a couple of hours later and said, no, you're going to the Reds. Called me back a few minutes later and told me I was going to the Cardinals. Called me back a few minutes later and said, 'I don't know where the hell you're going.' "

Ultimately, Finley was traded July 19 for minor leaguers Covelli Crisp (an outfielder) and Luis Garcia (an infielder/outfielder).

Finley went 7-4 for St. Louis with a 3.80 earned-run average to give him a lifetime record of 193-169.

Finley then started the second game of the division series and blanked the Arizona Diamondbacks for 6 1/3 innings on four hits, striking out seven and walking two, in a game St. Louis went on to win.

An Angel-Cardinal World Series would be a dream matchup for Finley. But if he can't hold the Giants down today, the dream could be over soon.


Another day went by Friday without St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen (sprained left shoulder) taking batting or fielding practice.

Said Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa of Rolen, who was injured in the division series, "Until you see him out there [practicing], he's not close."

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