October 28, 2010
What can you say about a game like this? It was one of the more bizarre you’re going to see from a team as solid as ours. Obviously, it just got away from us because we couldn’t throw strikes. That simple. When everything falls apart, you get a nightmare inning like the 8th. It was tough to watch it from the dugout – though no tougher, I’m sure, than it was watching it on TV at home. I imagine there were a lot of shoes thrown at a lot of screens across Texas.
Cain was on his game. He was mixing it up well with his fastball, slider and a good change-up. I’ve seen him really develop as a pitcher during my 3 ½ seasons with the Giants. He’s so in control of the game now. His location is more precise. When he’s on, he’s really tough to hit.
I know it sounds like a cliché, but there’s still a lot of baseball left. We’ll be in our park for the next three games. I know it will be rocking. If there is one thing I saw in the Giants – other than pretty solid pitching – was their intensity. I think playing in their own park helps keep that intensity at a high level. And I hope going back to our home fans will help us ignite that spark that maybe we’ve been missing.
But the truth is that it’s up the 25 guys on this roster to turn things around. Not the fans, the manager, the coaches or the trainers. Us. We have to hit the ball. We have to make our pitches. We have to capitalize on every mistake the Giants make.
I think about what we did when we lost 5-0 in the first game of the ALCS against the Yankees. We didn’t even blink. We just got back to playing our game. We have a mindset that’s all about winning. What I see when I look around the clubhouse are guys who are hungry and fierce and have heart.
We’ll take a day to collect ourselves. We get in around 4 in the morning, I think. We’ll work out. We’ll put the first two games behind us.
I can’t wait to get back home. I can’t wait for Game 3.
Obviously this wasn’t the kind of game anyone expected. A very strange night. But that’s baseball. Do we expect to win every game? Yes. You go into every game expecting to win. And we expected to win this game until the last out in the ninth.
One thing we take away from this game is the fact we never give up. There wasn’t a moment in the dugout that we didn’t think we were going to come back to win. Every guy kept battling. As much as anything, that defines this Rangers team. We’re always pulling for each other, and we always believe we’ll find a way to win.
But we were off tonight. Cliff Lee didn’t have the curve ball working really well, and he didn’t have the precision location he usually does. He made some mistakes over the plate, and give the Giants credit, they were swinging and hitting.
We also take away from this game that we scored seven runs against a great Giants pitching staff. I know people characterize the Giants as a team of misfits and cast-offs. I know better than anyone that they’re pros over there. None of us thought they were going to roll over for us. We have to earn every inning.
I’m glad to get the first game over in San Francisco. It was really nice to hear the fans cheer me during introductions – and I was gratified that they didn’t cheer me when I came up to the plate. They know I’m going to give everything I can to beat the Giants. So of course I was really glad to get two hits here.
The first time I was up, I wished Posey luck and he wished me luck. Then I looked out at Lincecum and touched the bill of my cap, and he touched his in response.
I had as special a relationship with Timmy as I have had with any pitcher. Maybe because he was so young when I began catching him and I became a mentor to him. We have texted since I was traded but I had not seen him or talked to him in person until the game yesterday. I had heard he had said really nice things about me to the press.
When he came up to bat for the first time, I stood and told him, “I want you to know that hits or no hits, win or lose, you’re my boy.”
“Hey, Be-Mo, I love you.”
Then we both got to work.
The Giants came out on top today, but that’s why they we seven. Nobody on this team was down, even in the clubhouse after the game. We know what we can do. We have C.J. out there tomorrow, and he matches up well against the Giants’ lineup. We’ll get some rest tonight then come out battling tomorrow. Let’s hope the rain stays away.
October 26, 2010
It was strange to walk into AT&T Park and go into the visitor’s clubhouse. In fact, I didn’t even know where to go. I just followed the guys. But once I was inside that room, it felt more like home than I imagined it would – because when I looked around, there were my teammates. In this game, you move around a lot, and it’s very difficult sometimes. But there is never any doubt that once you play a few games for your new team, and once you know you have been accepted by them, they are your family, and you play 100 percent for them.
I admit that I was wondering how my old Giants teammates would respond to me. This was the first time I’ve seen them since the trade. Would they try to keep their distance because we’re playing against each other and the stakes were so high? I didn’t know.
We had our workout first, and then the Giants go the field after us. I was walking toward right field to shag some flies and suddenly Matt Cain is hugging me. All the Giants were walking in a line out to an area beyond right field where they were going to be interviewed by the media. Every guy stopped to hug me and tell me how great it was see me and could I believe how it all worked out. It was such a great feeling.
“Wow, isn’t this amazing?” Aaron Rowand said. “The World Series!”
When our team spoke with the media, reporters kept asking me how it would be to play against Giants players that I considered like brothers. The reporters saw how the Giants players threw their arms around me when they saw me on the field. They saw how real our affection is for each other. But I told them: Look, I played against my actual brothers! And once I’m on the field, it’s all business. I don’t care who you are. If you’re on the opposing team, I’m going to try to beat you. And I know they’re going to try to beat me. Maybe people don’t understand how much pride we have as ballplayers. You want to win. That’s what this is all about – especially at this point.
The writers also asked how much I contributed to the scouting report on the Giants. The truth is our scouting department did such a thorough job, there was nothing left for me to add.
Today was my mother’s birthday. She’s with me here in a connecting room at the team hotel. We gave her presents and flowers and now we’re taking her to our favorite Puerto Rican restaurant in San Francisco.
Jamie came to pick me up at the ballpark, and as I was getting in the car, we ran into Giants president Larry Baer. He gave me a big hug.
“Buster [Posey] learned so much from you,” Larry told me. “That’s the reason we brought him up at the end of last year. To learn the craft from you, how to handle the pitchers, for him to be able to absorb that from you, that was so important.”
“That’s the first thing I told him,” I told Larry. “I said, ‘Your talent will take over with your hitting and catching. What you have to learn is how to handle the pitchers. They’re all different. So how do you do that?’ So that’s what we talked about, and he took it all in. When I left the Giants, I told him, ‘You got to take care of my boys, man.’ And he has.
“You are so lucky to have him so young.” I said to Larry. “He’s going to be such a superstar that Jamie and I’ll come back just to watch him.”
“It’s come full circle for you to be back here now,” Larry said.
Can’t wait for tomorrow. We’ll see how the Giants fans greet me when I’m introduced. No matter what they do, I’ll always have a place in my heart for the fans here. They have always been so supportive.
OK, let’s go. We have Cliff Lee out there and an amazing lineup behind him. We’re ready.
We flew into the Bay Area this afternoon. Instead of driving over the Bay Bridge to the home I leased for the first half this season, I rode the Rangers team bus to a hotel in the heart of San Francisco. It was weird on the plane to be reading scouting reports of the Giants’ hitters. It’s so strange how things work out. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Giants players at the ballpark, either tomorrow at workouts or Wednesday before the game. Throughout the post-season, Jamie’s been communicating with Kristen Posey, Chelsea Cain, Blanca Kelly (the wife of first-base coach Roberto), Nate Schierholtz’s family, a bunch of others, everyone wishing us luck and Jamie wishing them luck. But we’re not going to be socializing this week, at least I won’t be. I can’t. There is just too much to be thinking about and focusing on.
As Jamie and I were running errands yesterday in Dallas, we were talking about how lucky we are to have landed with the Rangers. I can’t imagine any other team being as welcoming as the Rangers have been, from the players to the clubbies to the front office staff. After we won the pennant Friday night, our families were invited to join us in the dugout. Even thought Jamie’s pretty new to the Rangers’ family, every coach and half a dozen of the team owners came up and hugged her and told her she and I were 100 percent a part of this victory. She was holding Jayda in her arms, and they were just looking all around as if it were dream. Jayda was trying to grab the red, white and blue confetti falling everywhere.
One moment that will stand out for me in the ALCS was the three-run home run. It wasn’t so much because I was able to come through under pressure, though that’s part of it. You always want to be the guy who steps up. For whatever reason, I’ve had success in the big moments. People started calling me “Big Money” when I was with the Angels and it carried over to the Giants. I think I do well in those situations because I’m not afraid to fail. I feel calm. I put my faith in God. I go to the plate believing absolutely that I will get a hit.
But two other things were happening when I was rounding the bases that day. First, I was just so happy and grateful that I almost cried. After struggling most of the season with an injured elbow, and getting traded, it was an emotional thing to be able to help my team win. Second, I was thinking of my father, who, as many of you know, died two years ago. I thumped my fist on my heart as I was heading to home. I was thinking, “Pai, this is both of us.” Then I pointed up to my mother and Jamie. None of this means anything without them.
When reporters talked to me afterward, I made a comment like, “Not bad for the fat kid who everyone made fun of for being so slow.” I was joking but I have to say there was a lot of satisfaction in proving people wrong about me. When I warmed up the starting pitchers during our games in Yankee Stadium, fans near the bullpen chanted, “Ben-gie’s fat! Ben-gie’s fat!” It was kind of funny, of course. They sounded like fourth-graders in the playground. The best part was they chanted in English AND in Spanish to make sure I was absolutely clear about what they were saying. So to drive in the go-ahead runs in front of those fans put a smile on my face.
Another memorable moment for me was Vladdy’s big hit after the Yankees again intentionally walked Josh Hamilton. I sat in the dugout and said a little prayer: “Please let him be the man today. If I have a hit coming to me today, give it to him instead.” And then bang – two-run double. I was so happy for him. He’s such a great player and was really struggling during the series. He deserved to be the hero.
When the game was over, the families not only got to come into the dugout, they were welcomed into the clubhouse for the champagne and beer showers. My mother went home with Jayda, and Jamie came in. She had told me earlier that if she ever got to join in the celebration, she wanted the full deal. She wanted to experience what it was like. As soon as I saw her, I poured two 20-ounce cans of beer over her head. We sprayed champagne at each other – and everyone else. We had a blast. Two hours later, she was still so drenched she could probably have filled a champagne bottle by wringing out her clothes. It was the best night.
Now back to work. We have a workout tomorrow at AT&T Park, then Game 1 Wednesday.
When we get back to Dallas, Yadier and Jose will be there. They’re in Puerto Rico right now but they’ll be there cheering me on for Games 3, 4 and, if we need it, 5. With me going to the World Series, now each of us Molina boys has been to two World Series each. Pretty amazing.
I’m going to try to post on the blog every day. So keep checking in!
October 23, 2010
Just finished watching my former team win a spot in the World Series against my current team. It’s amazing that it has turned out this way. I wonder if that’s ever happened before: one player who, in a single season, has been a starter for the two teams that end up playing in the World Series.
But believe me, I’m pulling 150 percent for the Rangers. I love the guys on this team, and I love these fans. When the umpire rung up A-Rod for the final out of the game, all I remember is bolting for the mound and jumping onto Feliz. Everyone else on the team ran in from the bullpen and the dugout and threw themselves on us. I suddenly found myself flatted on the bottom of the pile. I could hardly breathe – that’s a lot of poundage in that pile. I had the ball in my glove and suddenly someone took it out. I later learned it was Feliz, which was fine. But I’m lying there on the infield dirt. I can’t move a muscle – and my face is smashed into Feliz’s Afro. That was nasty. And Matt Treanor is kissing me on the cheek. It was crazy.
When everyone finally peeled themselves away, I looked up into the stands. It was incredible. All through the stadium, tiny bursts of light flashed from thousands of cameras. I could see people cheering and crying. I saw signs that said, “We Believe!” Confetti fluttered all around us. I saw the scoreboard blazing with the words, “Hello World Series!” I felt as if I was in a dream. When you’ve been around the game as long as I have, you take nothing for granted. You know how rare and special these moments are. I loved making a lap around the field. The fans here have waited so long for this, and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it.
I sought out Colby Lewis on the field and hugged him and told him how much I respect and admire him for how he pitched. With so much at stake and so much pressure, he was absolutely locked in. He is exactly what this team is all about: guys who believe in themselves and in each other.
I admit that it’s going to feel weird to play against the Giants. But it’s also a great feeling. I have lots of brothers over in that clubhouse, not just the players but the coaches and clubbies and trainers. So, of course, I was rooting for them all the way, yelling and cheering at my TV.
I know one of the story lines of this Series will be me and Buster Posey, the rookie who replaced me on the Giants. People seem to have a hard time believing that Buster and I have nothing but affection for each other. He’s a talented, smart and humble kid. I appreciate how he conducts himself and the credit he gives me for teaching him a few things. He texts me all the time, including after we won the pennant Friday night. And I texted him and other Giants players tonight, congratulating them. I’m so happy for all of them. I know how hard they worked.
Do I think my knowledge of the Giants will help me and the Rangers? I sure hope so. But I don’t think it will help to the degree people might think. Obviously, I haven’t been watching their hitters lately, so it will be our scouts and our pitching giving the pitchers and catchers the most accurate and up-to-date info. And as far as hitting the Giants pitchers, I might drive myself crazy trying to out-think them. They know that I know what they like to throw in certain situations, so they’re not going to throw it, or maybe they will because they’ll think I won’t be expecting it. Or something like that. Anyway, I could twist my brain into a pretzel instead of just getting into the box and hitting the ball.
I can’t wait to get to San Francisco and start playing. This is going to be an amazing Series. Both teams have heart. Both teams are fearless.
It’s amazing to think that no matter who wins, I’ll have my second World Series ring. If this is my last year in baseball, what better ending than to have contributed to both teams in the World Series? I couldn’t ask for anything more.
OK, I could ask for one more thing.
Another rush to the pitcher’s mound, another stadium filled with flashing cameras and a scoreboard ablaze with the words, “World Series Champion Texas Rangers!”
So I’m back home, slumped on my couch, still smiling from last night. I’m also feeling completely beat up, like I’ve been in a 15-round fight. First of all, I hardly ever drink. I’ll have a drink maybe three times in a year. But last night in the clubhouse celebration, I found myself drinking champagne out of the bottle, then having a little bit of beer and then Vladdy handed me a shot of great rum that he had. I was thinking, “Oh my God, where am I?”
We left the park around 1 a.m. and got on the plane home. Some of the guys just passed out, but I was still too excited to sleep. I watched CSI and Without a Trace on my iPad, thinking about what an amazing game we had just played, how happy I was for everyone on the plane, how happy I was for the fans, wondering if any of them would be there to greet us at the airport. When we landed and got off the plane, there must have been about a thousand fans waiting. It was so amazing. They were cheering and holding signs.
I wish everyone could experience what all of us players and coaches felt at that moment. You never forget as a ballplayer that you’re playing for more than the other guys wearing the same uniform. You’re playing for an entire community, for all the people who buy tickets to cheer us on and wear T-Shirts with our names on the back, and send all their good thoughts and prayers our way. We don’t always get a chance to feel that connection as directly as we wish we could. So to see those fans up close, right when we landed back home, almost moved me to tears. And it was 4 in the morning! Wow. I can’t thank all of them enough for putting the perfect cap on a perfect day.
I know a lot of people might think the highlight of the game for me was my stolen base, which I will get to in a minute. But the story for me was Cliff Lee. He was amazing – again. He had total command – mixing speeds, making his locations, keeping the ball off the middle of the plate. It’s such a pleasure as a catcher to work with a pitcher of his caliber. He’s unflappable. He’s fearless. And he’s smart.
What I loved about last night’s game was how smart everybody played. We didn’t wait for Tampa Bay to give the game away. We took it. That was our mentality. Look at our base running. We did all the little things. These are very smart baseball players and coaches. They see everything and take advantage of every opening.
Which brings me to my unlikely steal.
I was on first base with Elvis up at bat. First base coach Gary Pettis saw that every time Elvis swung and fouled off, no one covered second. When the count when to 3-2, Pettis mouthed to me, “Go!”
” ‘Go’ or ‘No’?” I mouthed back.
When the ball left the pitcher’s hand, I went. After the first couple of steps, I saw Elvis swing and miss. I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, I’m toast.” But there was no one covering the bag. So the catcher didn’t even make a throw.
I looked into the dugout, and everyone was giving me the antlers. It was unbelievable. But that’s what kind of a season this team has had.
I’ve been in the league a long time, so I know how special it is to get this far into the post-season. So I’m trying to soak everything in. I’m thinking about so many things, but one thing I’m not thinking about is pressure. All we can do is work as hard as we can, and the result will be what it will be. That’s why I’m so calm. I believe in this team, and I believe in God. What is supposed to happen will happen.
We have today off and will practice tomorrow. Then we open with the Yankees Friday night. Every major league player in October has a body covered with bruises and muscles that are strained and tired. But once the game starts, adrenaline kicks in and you don’t feel anything. You become a warrior out there, with nothing on your mind but winning.
Vladdy just stopped by – he lives three hours away. He’s having a bunch of players over to his house for dinner tonight. I’d like to go, but right now I don’t know. I think my body needs to rest. But if I do join them at Vladdy’s house, one thing I know for sure – no rum.
See you at the yard on Friday. Thanks for your amazing support of the team. You don’t know how much it means to all us.
October 8, 2010
You might imagine that our flight home from Florida last night was pretty nice. Everyone was so happy after winning the first two games on the road. Tampa Bay is a good team. We did not take them lightly, and we still don’t. But our guys responded to the postseason pressure as if they’ve been doing this their whole lives.
I’ve been to the postseason a few times in my career, so I was ready to step in and give some advice if I saw guys getting nervous, but everyone was completely cool. Before Wednesday’s Game 1, Ron Washington and a few of the coaches talked in the clubhouse to the team. They said we had nothing to worry about because we were well prepared and had worked hard to get here and to just play the game.
And that’s what we did. Or at least pretty much. I was surprised to find myself feeling a little anxious right before going out on the field but once Cliff Lee’s pitches started popping into my glove, I was locked in. The butterflies went away and it was “Here we go.”
First games in a series are always kind of like a study – you’re studying the other team and they’re studying you. You want to see how they’re going to pitch you, how they’re going to set the fielders. You want to see what their pitcher has working for him.
In my first at-bat, I got a fastball straightaway and was able to line it over first base for an RBI. The next time I came up, he threw me a fastball and I fouled it off. I had a feeling he was going to throw another fastball inside. That’s what I got. I hit it over the left-field wall.
It felt great to round the bases right then. You never know how you’re going to perform when the chips are down, so I was very happy to be able to come through and help the team and give my pitcher a cushion. You can just see how pitchers relax once they have a few runs on the scoreboard. You can see it in their eyes. You see the confidence go up. Cliff Lee had it all going for him Wednesday after a giving up a couple hits in the first inning. He was amazing.
In the clubhouse afterward, you could sense that everyone was just feeling, “OK, we can do this.”
I went to dinner that night with my wife and her parents to a seafood restaurant on the water in Clearwater.
Then C.J. Wilson comes out Thursday and throws another great game, mixing up his pitches and doing his thing. We flew home needing to win just one game to clinch. Pretty good feeling.
Today we had batting practice and infield practice. Jamie took her parents to see Dealey Plaza while I was at the park. I’m watching the Phillies-Reds game now and will try to see the Giants-Braves. It was fun to catch the last four innings of Tim Lincecum’s great pitching performance last night. I’m so happy for him.
I’ll be back behind the plate tomorrow for Game 3. We never, never count any team out. We’re taking nothing for granted. We are not letting our guard down. But I have to say, it will be great to play at home in front of our great fans.
See you out there!
Sorry for the delay in getting this post out. I wanted to get something out as soon as we clinched in Oakland but you know how it is. Anyway, that day in Oakland was awesome. It was an amazing feeling – I haven’t felt that way since I was with the Angels in 2002.
I wish everybody in their lives could experience this at least once. There is nothing better than sharing a moment of complete joy with your team — the people who have been working so hard together. It’s so much more satisfying than achieving something individually. It’s hard to put into words, really. You just look at each other in the clubhouse, with the champagne flying everywhere and everyone hugging, and you want almost to burst with emotion. We all did it together. Everyone contributed. Everyone believed.
The only down side was that we didn’t do it at home in front of our fans. That would have made it perfect.
I feel very lucky, needless to say, to have joined this team. One of the best parts, which I couldn’t have expected, is getting to know Matt Treanor. From the outside, maybe, Matt and I should be rivals. We’re sharing the catching position. Each of us, of course, wants to be behind the plate more. We’re both very competitive. We both hate sitting on the sidelines. But Matt and I have become great friends – and so have our wives. They’re already planning an off-season vacation for all of us.
The thing about Matt and me is that we both care about just one thing: Winning. Neither of us cares about individual statistics. We don’t care about personal goals. We both just want to win this thing. So that’s why it works.
So when I’m playing, he’s there between innings helping me with strategy, giving me feedback on this batter or that batter. And I’m there doing the same for him. We watch video of opposing batters together. We meet with the pitchers. We share whatever information we have.
Maybe it’s because we’re both veterans who understand it’s all about the team and winning. As much as baseball seems like an individual sport in a lot of ways – you’re by yourself on the mound or in your position on the field or and at the plate. But all the parts have to work together. Players have to trust each other and pick each other up. And that’s how Matt and I have always played. And as we’ve gotten older, I think, the team concept only becomes more important.
Matt and I both take pride in the fact that our pitching staff has a chance to finish the season with a sub-4.00 ERA for the first time since 1993. I take some satisfaction, too, in learning the Rangers pitchers pretty quickly and learning the American hitters. Matt has helped a lot there, too.
Do I wish my performance at the plate were better? Of course. But it was nice to see bench coach Jackie Moore quoted in a story today saying of Matt and me, “They know they’ll win more games with the way they call pitches than they will with their bats.”
That’s why the Rangers are in the post-season. We know our roles and play as a team.
This team also understands that we can’t slack off just because we have clinched the division. We need to keep the intensity up so when we begin the playoff games, we it the ground running.
Off to the field. Thanks for reading!