2002-10-19 / Sports

All-California World Series In N.Y. State Of Mind

By Bryan Hoch

All-California World Series
In N.Y. State Of Mind
Baseball Columnist

It's striking how strange it is to look at the matchup for this season's World Series, glancing at the usual stat sheets to seek out the accomplishments of a certain representative from the City of New York. Instead, we'll all be comparing Mike Scioscia's upstart Anaheim Angels to Dusty Baker's long-overdue San Francisco Giants.

Truth be told, and as tough as it is for Yankees fans to accept, we've been spoiled. Now we have a better idea of how the rest of America felt in 2000, when the Yankees and Mets captured the city's attention in strikingly determining just who was king within the Big Apple's borders.

Yet, while the Empire State Building glowed alternatively in the colors of our two teams and millions of New Yorkers rallied for their franchise, all points west of Trenton seemed to let out a collective yawn.

Two years later, the state of California gets its revenge, showcasing their two finest teams in the national spotlight - the first all-Golden State World Series since the earthquake-interrupted Fall Classic of 1989, and just the fourth in baseball history.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that there are no ties to New York in this October's championship matchup; in fact, far from it. A look at some of the familiar faces who will be on your television screen this week who have called New York home at one point or another:

Hometown Boys

Rich Aurilia, shortstop, S.F.

Widely considered the National League's premier shortstop before recovery from shoulder surgery slowed him this year, Aurilia was a 1989 graduate of Xaverian High School in Brooklyn and later attended St. John's University, where he majored in finance and earned All-Big East honors in 1992.

A cornerstone of the Giants' infield, Aurilia saw his production slip this season from career highs of a .324 average, 37 homers and 98 RBI in 2001 to more earthly totals of a .257 average and 15 home runs this year as San Francisco secured the Wild Card. However, he's been clutch in the postseason, driving in seven runs against the Braves in the NLDS and homering twice in Game Two of the NLCS against the Cardinals.

Shawon Dunston, infielder, S.F.

When the Brooklyn-born Dunston broke into the majors with the Cubs in 1985, Angels setup man Francisco Rodriguez was just three years old. It's been that kind of long, winding road for the member of Thomas Jefferson High's Class of '82, who has served three stints with the Giants and five with other clubs over an 18-year career but is finally getting his first taste of the World Series.

Dunston actually came close to the Fall Classic with the Mets in 1999, coming over in a July 31 trade from the Cardinals for infielder Craig Paquette and batting .344 over his 42 games with New York. He appeared in nine of the Mets' 10 postseason games that year, watching helplessly as Kenny Rogers walked in the winning run in Game Six of the NLCS at Atlanta's Turner Field

Joe Nathan, pitcher, S.F.

Not active to pitch in the World Series, the 26-year-old righthander was a 1992 graduate of Pine Bush High School in Circleville and went on to become a two-time All-American at SUNY Stony Brook. He pitched in just four games with the Giants this season and has a career won-loss record of 12-6, spanning 43 games (29 starts).

Big Apple Pedigrees

Kevin Appier, pitcher, Angels.

The 34-year-old righthander had a good first season for the Mets in 2001 after inking a four-year deal in Flushing, going 11-10 with a 3.57 ERA in 33 starts, but became prime trade bait once the Mets sniffed an opportunity to snatch up disgruntled first baseman Mo Vaughn from the Angels.

The Mets were crowned Hot Stove League champions with that move and others, but in the end, Anaheim got the last laugh. Appier went 14-12 with a 3.92 ERA in 32 starts this year for the Angels and will start one of the games in the World Series, leaving the last-place Mets to sit home and watch from their living rooms.

Jeff Kent, second base, Giants. Before he was Barry Bonds' best buddy (tongue in cheek) on the Giants, the hard-nosed Kent plied his trade at Shea Stadium with the Mets, having come to the club in August 1992 with Ryan Thompson from the Blue Jays in exchange for David Cone.

Kent, the son of a California police officer, had some solid seasons in New York but became a familiar target of fan criticism as the on-field play of the Mets languished. His career took off after the Mets traded him to Cleveland in 1996 with Jose Vizcaino in exchange for Carlos Baerga and Alvaro Espinoza, culminating with his 2000 National League MVP season.

Alex Ochoa, outfield, Angels Ochoa came to the Mets from the Orioles in the 1995 trade that shipped Bobby Bonilla out of New York for the first time, and was touted with the billing of being a "five tool player" - that is, he could do it all on the diamond.

It looked that way on July 3, 1996, when Ochoa became the 21st Mets player ever to hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, homer), accomplishing the feat in just his 22nd big league game. The rest of his career hasn't been so rosy, however - he's latched on as a spare outfielder with the Angels, his sixth organization since leaving the Mets.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo, outfield, Giants.

After a successful rookie season in 2001 with the Mets, the flamboyant Japanese import Shinjo seemed to suffer from the sophomore jinx this year, hitting just .238 in 118 games with the Giants.

Immensely popular with New York's oriental community, the Mets sensed the need to deal Shinjo when presented with the opportunity to pick up lefthander Shawn Estes this past offseason. Estes was inconsistent with the Mets, but Shinjo disappointed as well - so much so that the Giants were forced to deal two minor leaguers to the White Sox for aging veteran Kenny Lofton on July 28th. His orange armbands also failed to catch on in San Francisco as a fashion statement the way they had here.

J.T. Snow, first base, Giants.

Few remember, but way before Snow was manning first base for the Angels and now the Giants, he was originally property of the Yankees. A fifth-round draft pick of the Bronx Bombers in the 1992 draft, Snow was well on his way to someday taking over first base for Don Mattingly, earning International League and Rookie of the Year honors with Triple-A Columbus in his first pro season.

That all changed on Dec. 6, 1992, when the Yankees - impatient as usual to begin winning quickly, a trend that was soon corrected - dealt Snow to the Angels for lefthander Jim Abbott. Soon thereafter, Snow seamlessly molded into the Southern California sports lifestyle, which shouldn't have been a surprise - his father, Jack, played 11 NFL seasons with the L.A. Rams.

Bryan Hoch appears regularly in the Wave and on FOXSports.com. He can be contacted at bryanhoch@yahoo.com


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