Dusty KO's Tony

Wednesday, October 30 2002 @ 05:44 AM EST

Contributed by: Coach

Johnnie B. Baker, just as motormouth Tim McCarver was "explaining" that Tony La Russa "might not be more likely to put on a squeeze, but more likely than Dusty" -- huh? -- had Ramon Martinez do exactly that in the ninth inning of Game Two for a back-breaking insurance run. With lead-footed J.T. Snow on third, even a "safety" squeeze was "suicide;" but Martinez and Baker surprised McCarver, La Russa and the reeling Cardinals with a perfectly executed bunt they should have seen coming.

Considering that closer Robb Nen was on deck, and Snow's leadoff triple could otherwise have been wasted, it was a great call. So is starting Russ Ortiz in Game Three, setting him up for an unlikely Game Seven or the Series opener, and bumping Livan Hernandez and his baffling changes of speed to the twilight game the following day.

If they had come to blows the night before, Dusty would have laid a good whupping on the lawyer. It may be oversimplifying (and I'm certainly slighting Jason Schmidt) to say the managers are deciding this NLCS, but Baker has boosted his free agency campaign for a big raise and/or a new job, while La Russa's impact has been nil. It takes guts to pull a SS who has homered twice in a double-switch, but Dusty is no coward, and the eyebrow-raising move turned out just fine for the Giants.

Is there a hope that McCarver, who also worked two awkward football analogies into his "analysis" and never says in one sentence what he can say in ten, would be embarrassed enough to shut up for a moment? Nope.

(transferred; posted Oct. 11)