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 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!