Lisa Guerrero: My conversation with J.T. Snow
A girlfriend of mine is a dyed-in-the-wool Dodgers fan. She is beside herself right now in anticipation of the series with the Phillies. She has a Dodger flag on her car and drinks her coffee from a Dodger mug -- and don't even think about calling her during the game.
So what's on the screen saver of her computer? Manny? Torre? Lowe? Ethier? Loney? Nope. How about old school? Lasorda? Piazza? Fernando? Karros? None of them either.
On her screen saver is an iconic image of a San Francisco Giant, J.T. Snow, grabbing the back of 3-year-old batboy Darren Baker during Game 5 of the 2002 World Series, presumably saving him from being trampled by incoming base runner David Bell.
Lots of people around here feel the same, grant status notwithstanding. He is, after all, a product of Southern California. His dad, Jack Snow, the Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, died in 2006.
I chatted with J.T. this morning by phone. He works as the special assistant to the general manager in San Francisco, broadcasting games and coaching young Giants players in their minor league system. Signed to a one-day contract Sept. 27, he was able to retire as a Giant, although he played his final season in 2006 with the Red Sox, after nine years with San Francisco and, before that, three with the Angels.
When I mentioned that Mike Scioscia was taking some heat in these parts over that squeeze play in the Angels' elimination game versus the Red Sox, he wasn't surprised.
"I didn't agree with that call. A lot of things have to go right to make that work. I just don't think you put your whole season on the line right there," Snow said.
What about the fact that the Halos clinched so early that for all intents and purposes, they didn't have to have a meaningful hit in 21 days (they clinched Sept. 10 and Game 1 of the ALCS was Oct. 1)?
"If you're scratching and clawing until the end of the year, you're better off," said the six-time Gold Glove winner, "and at the end, the Angels were mainly playing bad teams. They cruised through. Then they play the Sox -– good bats, good pitchers -– and they couldn't come up with the big hit. It's hard to ramp it back up and flip the switch like that."
And what does Snow think about his former rivals the Dodgers and his former teammate Manny Ramirez?
Snow loves that the Dodgers are "playing loose and free," and he chalks it up to Manny. What's especially impressive to J.T. is that Ramirez hasn't faced these National League pitchers before. "I love the guy. He's good for the game. He's the best right-handed hitter I've ever seen."
Manny told him recently that he'd like to remain a Dodger. He also told Snow that he loves the atmosphere in L.A. and enjoys playing for Joe Torre.
So what about the World Series?
"I think it'll be Red Sox-Dodgers," Snow predicts, "but Boston should win. They've been there before and know what to expect."
Finally, I asked him what he does in his free time. He coaches his son Shane's Little League team. The 10-year-old made the district all-stars this season.
"He's got quite a sports legacy following in the footsteps of you and your dad," I tell him, "so what's it going to be ... football or baseball?"
J.T. laughs and says, "He's a good athlete, a good baseball player. But he's an even better hockey player."
Lisa Guerrero has covered Super Bowls, NBA championships and the World Series, along with the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. As an actress, she has appeared on "Frasier" and "The George Lopez Show" and as Billy Baldwin's long-suffering wife in the family film "A Plumm Summer," which she executive-produced.
Photo: After scoring a run, J.T. Snow had the presence of mind to scoop up 3-year-old batboy Darren Baker before he was trampled. Credit: Los Angeles Times