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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

World Series: Let's Hope Fans Give Bengie Molina Ovation He Deserves

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 2010 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge Bengie_Molina_Card.jpg

Bengie Molina is a winner. And he's got the hardware to prove it. Whether the Rangers or Giants capture the World Series, Molina is walking away with a World Series ring. And then he'll retire.

Hopefully, the home fans will give him the recognition he deserves today. Molina was a great Giant -- and his failures are more reflective of the team's shortcomings than his own.

Glancing at Molina's career statistics, a case could be mounted that he's the best catcher the San Francisco Giants have ever had. But Molina's most endearing attributes didn't always show up on the stat sheet.

There's no statistic for the way he cared so deeply about winning -- and suffered through terrible teams and the Barry Bonds sideshow. But fans noticed. His defense and handling of the pitching staff were always masterful. And class? How about this poignant blog post Molina wrote after getting the news he was dealt to the Rangers

I feel that in this blog for the last three seasons, I've always been honest with you. So I will be honest now: News of the trade felt like a blow to the stomach. I love the guys on the Giants. I have loved playing in front of the fans in San Francisco.

The way I found out is a sign of the speed-of-light information superhighway. We were landing in Denver last night and Travis Ishikawa asked me something like, "Do you know what happened?''

Though the team may well live to regret the way news of the catcher's trade was disseminated, tere's no denying it was high time to hand the reins to Buster Posey. Molina batted just .240 with Texas this year. But that points to something else. Molina is doing what he's supposed to do for the Rangers: Handle the pitching staff, play defense, and hit low in the lineup. That's what he did for the World Champion Anaheim Angels in '02. Yeah, we noticed.

Molina's statistics may yet be the worst ever turned in by a cleanup hitter (Moneyball types will retch at his .285 on-base percentage in 2009). But I don't blame Molina for not being good enough to bat fourth. I blame the Giants for tossing out a lineup full of No. 7 hitters and pushing Molina toward the slings and arrows of the cleanup spot. Molina did what he always does: The best he can.

Finally, I can't help but believe fans would have had more patience with Molina during his leaner years if he were, well, leaner. It's one thing for a baseball player to fail -- most do most of the time. But when the player in question resembles a furniture mover and moves down the line at unicycle juggler speed -- people have a visceral reaction.

I don't wish Molina success in the Series -- remember, he's getting a ring no matter what, and he won one in 2002 to boot. But I do appreciate what he did for this team. Just after his trade, he concluded his blog post with a polite note to fans: "Thanks for reading this over the past few seasons. I hope our paths cross again."

Funny how that worked out.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


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