After four games of the World Series the Giants had seen enough of Troy Glaus. He had burned San Francisco pitchers for seven hits, including three home runs, and five RBIs. So they decided to make the Angels' slugging third baseman a little less, uh, comfortable at the plate. In his first at bat in Game 5, Glaus was knocked down by a 95-mph heater from righthander Jason Schmidt. In his first at bat of the following game, Glaus landed on his back when righthander Russ Ortiz buzzed another fastball under his chin.
The plan appeared to work. After homering in the third inning of the Angels' 4-3 loss in Game 4, Glaus struck out three times and had just one hit in his next seven at bats. By the time he stepped to the plate with one out in the seventh inning of Game 6, with his team trailing 5-0, Glaus was in a certifiable minislump. "He was ticked off," says Anaheim hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. "You could see it in his eyes. But sometimes you don't want to get a guy mad when he's not swinging the bat that well."
Glaus vented his anger on the first pitch he saw from Ortiz in that inning, smoking it into leftfield for a single. That hit sparked a three-run rally, and the Giants' championship dreams began to go up in flames. An inning later Glaus completed the Angels' stunning 6-5 comeback victory by driving in the tying and winning runs with a double off closer Robb Nen. Glaus finished the Series with a .385 average and eight RBIs, and after Sunday's clinching win he was awarded the MVP trophy that a day before seemed to be Barry Bonds's for the taking. Overall in the postseason Glaus had a .344 average and seven home runs, one short of the record set by Bonds this year. "A lot of people say we don't have superstars, but Troy's one," says first baseman Scott Spiezio. "He may not get a lot of publicity, but hopefully he will now."
Glaus doesn't share that sentiment. It's possible to have a tooth extracted with less discomfort than Glaus displays during interviews. While most of his teammates cavorted in front of the cameras in the champagne-drenched Edison Field clubhouse after Game 7, Glaus retreated to a back room and was all but invisible. His reaction to being named MVP? "I don't even know what to think," he said. "They told me to go stand on the stage, so I stood on the stage [to accept the award]. That's about it."
Until the postseason, this had been a lost year for the 26-year-old Glaus. After leading the league with 47 home runs in 2000, his second full season in the majors, and whacking another 41 in '01, he endured a series of slumps and hit only 30 this year. For the months of June and July he batted .198. Such cold streaks shook his confidence, and he became too choosy and passive at the plate. "He needed to open up the zone and be aggressive," says Hatcher.
Glaus found his power stroke in September, when he hit eight homers and drove in 22 runs to finish with a career-high III RBIs. That streak carried over into the postseason when he homered three times in the first two games of the Division Series against the Yankees and cracked another to win Game 3 of the ALCS against the Twins. "He wasn't consistent this season, but he got a lot of clutch hits," says rightfielder Tim Salmon. "I told him, 'You don't have to hit 40 home runs to win the World Series.' "
As it turned out, it only took seven.