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Game 2: The Night That Time Stood Still

October 21, 2002|Mike Penner

In between pitching changes, score updates and replays of Angels and Giants circling the bases, Fox's Joe Buck took a deep breath Sunday night and read ad copy for a season-long credit card promotional campaign: "What did you decide -- what's the most memorable moment in major league baseball history?"

Right around the 2 1/2-hour mark, around the middle of the fifth inning, I had my answer:

The final out of Game 2 of the 2002 World Series ... assuming it would come before the birth of Francisco Rodriguez's first grandchild.

The Galaxy won a league championship Sunday, playing two overtimes and 113 minutes before Carlos Ruiz scored the game-winner.

After the first 113 minutes of World Series Game 2, the Angels and the Giants had completed three innings.

In the NFL game that preceded the Angels and Giants (and ran long, into overtime, forcing Fox to trim its baseball pregame show to 15 minutes), the Arizona Cardinals defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 9-6, in overtime.

After 4 1/2 innings, the Angels and the Giants had combined to outscore them: Giants 9, Angels 7.

San Francisco's Game 1 victory Saturday drew a record-low overnight prime-time rating for the World Series opener: 11.2, down 5% from Game 1 of the 2001 Series between Arizona and the New York Yankees. And that 4-3 Giant win had a lot going for it: the Angels making their first World Series appearance in 42 years, Barry Bonds going deep in his first World Series at-bat, former Angel J.T. Snow returning home to beat the team that traded him six years ago with a home run and a slip-sliding defensive gem.

Could this have been the reason why?

Time of game: 3 hours 44 minutes.

Sunday's Game 2 surpassed that by 13 minutes, and surely would have threatened the World Series record for longest nine-inning game -- 4:14 -- if not for Angel rookie reliever Rodriguez, just a 20-year-old kid with places to be and people to meet and no time to spare dawdling on the mound.

Angel Manager Mike Scioscia mercifully inserted Rodriguez into the top of the sixth inning and nine Giant batters later, it was the top of the ninth inning -- time for Troy Percival, one more Bonds home run and then, at long last, the final out in the Angels' 11-10 victory.

Fox's Tim McCarver called it early, long before the first full-count walk, as he sized up the starting pitching matchup before the game: "Neither of these pitchers tonight stay ahead of the hitters. Kevin Appier will be wild low and Russ Ortiz will be wild high. A lot of deep counts. Does that translate into a long game? Probably."

The Angels led, 5-0, before Ortiz recorded his third out of the night.

The Giants had cut the deficit to 5-4 before Appier could finish the top of the second inning.

"This game has slowed down to a crawl" McCarver observed just before Appier staggered to that precious final out.

At the one-hour mark, with the Angels leading, 7-4, with one out in the bottom of the second, McCarver issued the following public-service announcement: "This has all the earmarks of the longest World Series game ever played." That was valuable information for East Coast viewers, who knew they could safely watch the "The Sopranos" and come back to the game when the Angels and the Giants were still in the fourth inning.

With time to kill, someone dug up the official figure for Buck. The record for the longest nine-inning World Series game was set in 1993 by Toronto and Philadelphia in Game 7: 4 hours 14 minutes. McCarver worked that game and Buck predicted he could remember every run scored. Of course he could. "Fifteen-fourteen, Toronto," McCarver said.

No one wanted to go through that again. McCarver began pleading for "a tourniquet out," for someone to "stop the bleeding." He said "pitchers from coast to coast are saying, 'Somebody stop this!' And nobody can."

Technically, Percival saved the game, but Rodriguez saved the broadcast. In a game plodding along in slow motion, K-Rod came in and pushed the fast-forward button, enabling Tim Salmon to strike his game-winning eighth-inning home run on Sunday night and not Monday morning.

Two games down, who knows how many more hours to play, but from a weary TV viewer's perspective, the kid will be tough to beat for World Series MVP.

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