Molina gets ring, but not the way he planned
Veteran catcher hints at retirement after season suddenly ends
ARLINGTON -- Rangers catcher Bengie Molina savored every step, every squat and, yes, every difficult at-bat of the World Series, all the way down to a celebration that he didn't participate in but felt a part of after Monday night's 3-1 loss in Game 5 that gave the Giants their first Fall Classic title since 1954.
So there was Molina, watching his former team celebrate on the field at Rangers Ballpark. Because he played for the Giants until they dealt him to the Rangers on July 1, Molina entered the World Series knowing he'd receive a championship ring no matter which team won.
The loss stung. But in a sense, Molina couldn't lose. It was an unforgettable time for the 36-year-old. It most likely will be his final Major League memory. Molina said he is much closer to retiring than not, but he wants time to think about it.
"I enjoyed everything," said Molina, who also earned a World Series ring with the Angels in 2002. "Obviously, I didn't enjoy the loss. But I enjoyed everything, every minute of it. I tried to soak it in.
"It's very tough to say bye to the game that your dad taught you when you were little. You're saying goodbye to a game, but I'm not afraid of doing it. I'm not afraid. There are more beautiful things waiting for me after the game. I'm ready to go, but I'll make that decision later on."
Molina went 2-for-11 in the World Series, with both hits and his lone RBI coming off Giants ace Tim Lincecum in Game 1. In Game 5, however, Lincecum hung him with an 0-for-3 night and two strikeouts.
But in a Fall Classic full of odd twists, Molina deserved to feel some pride. He joined the Giants in 2007 and was a big part of the development of Lincecum into a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, as well as Matt Cain, who vanquished the Rangers in Game 2.
"[Lincecum] did an amazing job," Molina said. "He kept us guessing all night. He threw a hell of a game.
"Wow. I had a taste of the changeup right at the end [during an at-bat that ended with a flailing strikeout with the potential tying run on base]. I looked at him like, 'You ... freaking ... guy.' But they all did a good job. They played good baseball."
The Giants traded Molina to make room for standout rookie catcher Buster Posey, who wound up putting a charge into the offense and performing well defensively. There were some hurt feelings at first, since Molina found out about the trade from teammates rather than directly from club officials. Also, according to various reports, his wife, Jamie, had been dealing with an abnormal cell growth in her esophagus that doctors feared was cancerous.
However, Jamie's esophagus and a tumor in her liver proved to be free of cancer. A light-hearted Molina could afford to stop and smell the postseason.
The warm ovation Molina received before Game 1 at AT&T Park touched him. He had to pull on his mask and fight back tears. He could love the folks from the Giants while trying to beat them.
"Why am I not happy for them?" Molina said. "They're like my family on the other side, of course. I know how hard they worked to be where they're at right now. I'm here in Texas right now and I wanted to win with Texas, but I'm really happy for them.
"I stayed and watched [the celebration]. We were trying to beat them, and they beat us. So I just wanted to watch and think what could have happened for us."
Over a three-month period, the Rangers became his guys every bit as much as the Giants were. Molina hit .240 in 57 regular-season games for Texas and helped defensively during the push into and through the playoffs.
At the end, players and coaches came over for heartfelt hugs and handshakes -- not exactly the big celebration he hoped to have, but it meant much to him nonetheless. As an indication of how well-liked he is, the well-wishers included clubhouse attendants and other support staff.
Molina had no reason to find it strange to commiserate with one group while anticipating receiving a cherished title ring from the other.
"Well, maybe if I get it right now it will be," Molina said. "But when I find a way to rest, maybe later if I retire, maybe I'll enjoy it."