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Baker Absolves Fan, and There's No Catch

October 20, 2003|Bill Shaikin and Jason Reid | Times Staff Writers

NEW YORK — Chicago Cub Manager Dusty Baker, on hand for Sunday's Game 2, said Cub fans must not blame fan Steve Bartman for the team's failure to reach the World Series for the first time since 1945.

The Cubs led Game 6 of the National League championship series, 3-0, and were five outs away from a trip to the World Series when Bartman tried to catch and ultimately deflected a foul ball that appeared destined for the glove of left fielder Moises Alou. The Florida Marlins scored eight runs in the inning to win Game 6 and won Game 7 the next night, making Bartman the least popular man in Chicago.

"I'm just glad that we weren't in a cowboy movie and they had vigilante parties, because they would have hung him from the highest tree," Baker said.

"I feel very badly for the young man. I think it's a natural, instinctive thing to reach for the ball. I saw the replay. He didn't even see Mo [Alou], it didn't look like to me. He was looking up at the ball. Mo was looking up at the ball. It was just one of those unfortunate things that happened. I hope we can make amends next year."


Yankee first baseman Nick Johnson is headed to the bench despite going three for four with two runs in Sunday's 6-1 victory.

Jason Giambi, the designated hitter in the first two games, will be at first base as the World Series shifts to Pro Player Stadium on Tuesday.

Without a designated hitter in the National League ballpark, Manager Joe Torre is going with experience and the potential of more power from Giambi, acknowledging that he's sacrificing other things in removing Johnson from the lineup.

"Jason is our experienced guy," Torre said. "Nick Johnson can do a lot of things ... but Jason Giambi is the guy that we really need to have in the middle of the lineup. It just gives us a deeper bench."


Whenever the Yankees slumped during the regular season, rumors surfaced that owner George Steinbrenner might fire batting coach Rick Down. The Yankees' abysmal hitting with men in scoring position during Game 1 revived those rumors, and a World Series loss could send Steinbrenner scampering to find a scapegoat.

"I don't worry about it, but obviously I'd be the first one to go," Down told reporters. "... We could win the World Series and someone could still get fired. We have no control over that."


Florida reliever Chad Fox said he was rooting for the Boston Red Sox in the American League championship series so he could see his friends and former teammates.

He has no such fondness for a Boston coaching staff that juggled relievers all season and even through the playoffs. According to Fox, Red Sox coaches worried more about which pitches he threw than how effective they were, second-guessing him even after a scoreless inning.

Fox posted a 4.50 earned-run average in 17 games for Boston. The Red Sox released him July 31, and he signed with Florida, posting a 2.13 ERA in 21 games.

"I moved on," he said. "I got another job. I'm standing here at the World Series. They're at home."

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