In the wake of Posey’s injury, will the Giants bring back a familiar face in Molina?

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey reacts after the Philadelphia Phillies scored their third run in the third inning during Game 5 of their Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series in San Francisco, October 21, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

In the eyes of the Giants and their fans, the Marlins can’t get on a plane to vacate San Francisco fast enough.

Before Florida came to town on Tuesday, the Giants were riding a five-game winning streak. Sure, luck was a big reason they swept the A’s last weekend but their pitching was also dominant and they had enough clutch hitting to take all three games. It was the same recipe that allowed them to bring the first World Series championship to San Francisco last year.

But two losses and one massive injury insult later and the Giants are wishing the Marlins were left off their schedule this year. After Florida dumped them 5-1 on Tuesday, the Giants rallied from five runs down in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday to tie the game 6-6 and force extra innings. Too bad they didn’t just take the 6-1 loss in the ninth.

In the 12th, Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins was tagging from third base and, knowing that there would be a close play at the plate with Nate Schierholtz throwing from right field, slammed into Giants catcher Buster Posey. The 2010 Rookie of the Year couldn’t hang onto the ball and worse yet, his left ankle/foot got caught underneath his body in gruesome fashion. As he lie on the dirt withering in pain, it was all the Giants and their faithful could do but to wince right along with him.

Posey will undergo an MRI on Thursday in order to determine the severity of the injury, but a trip to the disabled list seems inevitable. If he’s out for an extended period of time, you can’t help but to feel for the young man who carries himself well beyond his 24 years of age. Without their young catcher, there would have been no championship in San Francisco last year and that’s a fact. That’s how much he has meant to the club since being called up in June last year.

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Bengie Molina is a great storyline in this year’s Fall Classic

Texas Rangers Bengie Molina (L) celebrates after the Rangers defeated the Oakland Athletics to win the American League West title during their MLB American League baseball game in Oakland, California September 25, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

It’s hard not to like Rangers’ catcher Bengie Molina.

He’s a throw back player. He’s classy. He’s a consummate professional. He wants to catch all 162 games and he would never tell his manager that he wasn’t available to play. He’s also a competitor and he’s been around long enough to know how the business side works in baseball.

That’s why he didn’t complain when the Giants traded him to the Rangers on June 30 for reliever Chris Ray and a player to be named later. Molina was well aware that the Giants wanted to bring up rookie phenom Buster Posey as soon as the youngster got more experience calling games in the minors. The trade didn’t surprise him, nor did he express any ill will towards the Giants.

And why should he? His time in San Francisco was well served. For most of his three and a half years in the “City by the Bay,” he was the club’s best hitter. When the Mets eventually decided to pull an offer to him off the table this past offseason, the Giants welcomed him back with open arms but both parties knew that once Posey was ready, Molina would be out.

Now Molina is prospering for a Texas team that is making its first World Series appearance ever. He’s currently hitting .333 in the postseason with two home runs, seven RBI and 10 at bats. He also somehow has a stolen base, which is probably even more impressive than the .333 average if you know Molina’s speed (or lack of it, that is).

Of course, things have worked out for the Giants, too. Posey has met and/or exceeded expectations and their pitching staff hasn’t missed a beat (outside of a rough August) since he took over. For a rookie catcher to come in and call games for one of the best pitching staffs in baseball is remarkable. He’s being considered for rookie of the year honors and had the Giants called him up sooner, he probably would be a shoe-in for the award.

In a major twist of irony, Molina will have an opportunity to beat his former team in the World Series. He was a member of the World Champion Angels team that beat the Giants in 2002 and while he still considers many of his old teammates friends, there’s no doubt that he would love to break the hearts of San Francisco fans again.

Either way, he’s going to get a ring – even if the Giants win. While he would be disappointed if his ring had a SF logo on it, he would still be deserving of the honor. That speaks to Molina’s character and proves that what goes around, comes around.

Are the Yankees finished?

Mark Teixeira (L), Robinson Cano, second left, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter (R) of the New York Yankees stand around as a new relief pitcher is brought in in the ninth inning during game three of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium on October 18, 2010 in New York.   UPI/Monika Graff Photo via Newscom

Things don’t look good in the Bronx.

A.J. Burnett retired the fist six batters he faced Tuesday night, but then remembered he was A.J. Burnett pitching in 2010 and the wheels started to fall off. The end result was disastrous, which is what most pundits figured when Joe Girardi appointed him his Game 4 starter.

Burnett allowed five runs on six hits in six innings of work as the Rangers crushed the Yankees 10-3 in Game 4 of the ALCS. Texas’ catcher Bengie Molina (a great midseason pickup from the Giants) went 3-for-4 with a go-ahead three run homer in the sixth off Burnett, while the eventual ALCS MVP Josh Hamilton also hit a pair of dingers and Nelson Cruz added a two-run shot in the ninth.

Compounding issues for the Yankees is that Mark Teixeira is now done for the season with a strain in his right hamstring. Twenty-three-year-old Eduardo Nunez hit .280 this year in 50 at bats with one home run, but he’s not going to keep pitchers awake at night like Teixeira will.

The Bombers face elimination this afternoon at 4:00PM ET. The good news is that they have their ace on the hill; the bad news is that CC Sabathia has a 7.20 ERA in this year’s postseason. C.J. Wilson will start for the Rangers and his ERA is a tad better (2.03), plus he flustered New York hitters for most of Game 1 before they got to him in the 7th inning. And even if the Rangers lose today, they’ll be at home for the final two games of the series and Cliff Lee (who’s pretty good in the postseason) would start Game 7 if necessary.

The Red Sox have proved this decade that being down 3-1 doesn’t mean a club can’t pull off a comeback. But the Yankees look old, tired and dare I say completely overmatched in this series. They look finished.

Burrell to make debut on Friday, Giants renew commitment to crusty old vets

It didn’t take long for the Giants to purchase the contract of Pat Burrell, who will make his debut tonight in Pittsburgh just days after San Francisco signed him to a minor league deal. After all, he’s old, and the organization is committed to old and halting their youth movement as much as possible. (See the signings or re-signings of Rich Aurilia, Edgardo Alfonzo, Bengie Molina, Dave Roberts, Omar Vizquel, Ryan Klesko, Jose Vizcaino and Neifi Perez – just to name a few – in previous seasons.)

In calling up Burrell, the Giants had to make a roster move in the process, meaning 26-year-old John Bowker had to be optioned to Triple-A Fresno. Granted, Bowker was only hitting .207 at the time of the demotion, but the Giants, in all of their infinite wisdom, have decided that 82 at bats were enough to close the book on the outfielder for now.

I have nothing against Burrell, per se. He could turn out to be a solid pinch hitter and I would much rather see him wasting away on the bench than Bowker. But it’s the Giants’ continued philosophy (if that’s what you want to call it) towards judging hitters that infuriates me. They never really gave Fred Lewis a chance and now he’s hitting .304 as the Blue Jays’ leadoff hitter. For as good as a Giant as Randy Winn was over the years, they stuck with him too long last year while a younger, more talented Nate Schierholtz rotted away on the bench. (Speaking of Schierholtz, where does he fit in with the addition of Burrell?) And I’m still not sure who Kevin Frandsen killed to have never been given a legitimate shot at sticking with the big league club either, yet Edgar Renteria is in his second year of wasting everyone’s time in the “City by the Bay.”

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Did SportsCenter go over the line with Bengie Molina joke?

SPORTSbyBROOKS thinks so. Here’s a look at the clip in question:

Brooks had this to say about the situation:

To be fair, I do think ESPN SportsCenter did go over the line in its portrayal of Molina in that situation. If Bristol was going to air such a clip, it should’ve been on SportsNation or Jim Rome is Burning. Not in the context of objective news coverage.

Bengie Molina even wrote about it on his blog:

Look, you can say I’m the slowest guy in baseball or in all of sports or in the entire world. I don’t take issue with that because I AM the slowest guy. I have always been the slowest guy. I can’t challenge that criticism. But ESPN’s intention was not to criticize but to humiliate.

I take what I do very seriously, which is why – despite my obvious lack of speed – I have managed to play in the major leagues for 11 seasons. I play hard. I play hurt. I respect the game, my teammates, the press, the fans. That’s how I was raised. It was the No. 1 thing.

I know I’m a public figure and I just have to take my lumps. But I would like those people at ESPN who, from a safe distance, make fun of players for a cheap laugh, to remember that players are actual people.

A big part of me thinks that Molina should develop some thicker skin. I don’t think ESPN was trying to humiliate him with the clip. I think they were making light of something that everyone already knows — Bengie Molina is slow. ESPN would have been better served had they highlighted a good play or two that Molina made to help the Giants win, but this clip was no different than the “Not Top 10” that SportsCenter runs regularly. No one sad that Molina didn’t hustle to try to score, but it was funny to see him thrown out given the lead he had on the ball. He should just shrug his shoulders and laugh it off.

In the end, SportsCenter is entertainment. Yes, there is serious sports discussion and analysis, but part of what has made SportsCenter great over the years is the show’s sense of humor. I think making light of someone’s foot speed (with regard to an athletic contest) is well within the limits of good taste. They should just take the time to highlight some of Molina’s good plays as well. He’s a long-time MLB catcher for a reason.

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