Nolan Ryan made 773 starts over 27 seasons, yet his total Series time amounted to a relief appearance of 2 1-3 innings for the champion 1969 Mets. The Rangers president and part-owner understands the October glare.
“Well, I think there’s expectations that the media and the fan base have with certain players,” he said this week. “You can’t judge on a short series about players, but people’s expectations are Albert Pujols is capable of doing what he did the other night, and that adds to his reputation and expectations.”
Texas fans are hoping Josh Hamilton can provide the same sort of shot. The reigning AL MVP went 2 for 20 in last year’s World Series; this time, hobbled by a strained groin, he’s just 3 for 19 without a home run.
For Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, the franchise leader in postseason wins, it’s not really right how October efforts can frame a player. And that’s coming from an ace who outdueled Roy Halladay 1-0 in the deciding Game 5 of the first-round NL playoffs.
“No, not at all. I don’t think it defines who you are,” he said. “I think what defines who you are is, one, the consistency you put in day in and day out as a professional, and two, how you go about your business on and off the field. That defines who you are.”
“Postseason is just at a different level. I think the guys that are successful maybe might be a little more relaxed and able to deal with the distractions,” he said. “But I don’t think that it should define _ if you scuffle in the postseason, it shouldn’t define what type of player you are. That could just be that series.”
Orel Hershiser sees it differently. The former Dodgers star set a major league record by pitching 59 scoreless innings to close the 1988 season, then stamped his greatness by going 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA in the postseason and leading Los Angeles to the title.
“When you’re growing up, you’re not with your brother in the backyard pretending it’s the top of the sixth inning and the middle of the season and your team’s in last place. No. You’re dreaming that it’s the bottom of the ninth inning, Game 7 of the World Series,” he said. “You wind up, and here comes the pitch.”
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