OnBase: The World Series and Nanny Revenge

Former Giants catcher Bengie Molina was a nanny of sorts to San Francisco pitchers. Photo illustration by Jessica Lum.  Bengie Molina by  Dinur Blum and San Francisco, CA by  Ron Reiring (flickr).

Former Giants catcher Bengie Molina was a nanny of sorts to San Francisco pitchers. Photo illustration by Jessica Lum. Bengie Molina by Dinur Blum and San Francisco, CA by Ron Reiring (flickr).

Beware the Wrath of Nannies Scorned

A warning Meg Whitman failed to heed until Nicky Diaz showed up in the middle of her campaign for governor. Remember me, Patrona?

On Wednesday, another ex-nanny will make an unwanted appearance on an even bigger stage: Bengie Molina, catcher for the Texas Rangers.

Wait; wasn’t there a Bengie Molina who played for the Los Angeles Angels in the 2002 World Series? The same. And wasn’t there a Bengie Molina who played with the Giants for the past three years? That’s right:

Bengie Molina, the catcher who knows too much.

A favorite among fans, Giants players held him in highest regard: Two years in a row they voted him most deserving of the Willie Mac Award for his team spirit and leadership.

But now he’s baseball’s Nicky Diaz?

Right. Bengie Molina knows the Giants inside and out. He raised their young pitchers: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Brian Wilson.

Molina was their first catcher when they came to the major leagues. He taught them how to read opposing hitters, how to get out of a jam, what pitch to throw when, how to deal with managers and boards of directors. He calmed them down when they were scared; slapped them awake when they wanted to sleep; made them concentrate, made them work.

He loved them; they loved him. Twice Lincecum won the Cy Young Award for best pitcher, and twice he acknowleged Molina’s indispensable role. He did not exaggerate. Nor is it an exaggeration to say that Bengie Molina played a central role in building one of the best pitching staffs in contemporary baseball.

So the Giants dumped him in July, trading him to Texas to make room for Buster Posey. The whole Posey affair rankled Molina. He felt unappreciated by Giants’ management, insulted by the way they treated him at the end, humiliated by losing out to a rookie, and mocked by Giants fans who prefered a sexy young white boy to a wise old Latino.

Molina has the means and the motive to commit a Giant murder.

It’s all in the dim and distant past, Molina tells the press today. The pitchers are his “brothers.” He’ll look over the scouting reports and if there’s anything to add, he will, but nothing special. Yeah, right.

Like the 2003 Super Bowl, when the Raiders lost to their former coach, it could get ugly unless the Giants prepare. What can they do?

They’ve probably already changed the signs and communications signals they reasonably could. The pitchers will probably alter their pitch sequences in certain situations and offer new pitches in others. Mostly, the pitchers will have to struggle to maintain their mental edge. Molina’s potential mind games present the most dangerous minefields.

Buster Posey must show a flair for gamesmanship: a humble rookie learning from the veteran. He should definitely ask Molina how to throw out baserunners (an aspect of the catching trade where Posey’s superior).

The other Giants will also have to be on the lookout for Molina’s tricks. He knows where the fissures lie beneath the placid surface of a “happy clubhouse.”  As a bilingual bridge between the Latinos and Anglos on the team, Molina was acutely sensitive to the complaints of each group. It’s not clear who, if anyone, plays that role now.

Of course, the magic of Mission Creek may strike Molina as he walks onto the field, causing him to forget or drop his diabolical plans and just let the two teams play ball.

In that case, the money says Texas, but the heart says SF.

To get to the series, the Rangers beat the teams with the best records in baseball, combining great hitting with some pretty scary pitching. Their pitching staff begins with the excellent Cliff Lee, who has a 7-0 record in post-season play, and ends with Neftali Feliz, who hurls fireballs. In between, the Giants may be able to pick up some runs, but on paper the Rangers look like a better team.

Which is nothing new for the Giants. If the Giants’ pitchers can escape the clutches of their former nanny, they will keep the games close. In a close game, anything can happen, like a home run to the opposite field from a guy who hadn’t hit one there in four years.

That’s what the Giants have been doing most of the year, except they hit home runs more frequently in August and September. They could use a few more homers this series, but once again it will be up to the pitching staff to pull them through. To have a chance, they will have to defuse, derail or defeat the wily tactics of their teacher, guru and guide, and send their ex-nanny back to Puerto Rico for a well-deserved and much-appreciated retirement.

Wearing a ring the Giants won.

Filed under: Front Page, Giants, Topics

One Comment

  1. purpledahlia

    Very creative right-on analysis (and analogy) of the spurned Nanny Molina. But my take on why Bengie was traded was because his notrious slowness around the base pads was becoming too much of a liability for a team that lacked (and still lacks) major speedsters or power hitters. From what I read at the time it sounded lilke Giants management (i.e., Brian Sabean) didn’t handle Bengie or the situation with the appropriate respect, which to me would be separate from the reason for bringing in Posey. Many fans and commentators have speculated that Bengie’s sudden departure may have contributed to Timmy’s dramatic slump in August.

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