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Commentary: Plenty of UA ties in baseball's playoff run

Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 1, 2004
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So your favorite Major League Baseball team is out of the playoff hunt. Whether it was the Florida Marlins, who were knocked out in the final month of the season, or the Arizona Diamondbacks, who haven't played a meaningful game since the All-Star Break, chances are you need a team to rout for when the Divisional Series start Tuesday.

Instead of just picking a team that you think has the best shot of snagging the World Series bling, latch on to a former Wildcat, because this year's playoffs have the potential to be loaded with people who've graced this Tucson campus.

Both the Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants start a three-game series with their division rivals today that will determine the winners of both leagues' Western Division Champs.

The Angels bolster probably the richest Wildcats alum, Arturo Moreno. Moreno bought the Anaheim club in 2003 and became the first Mexican-American to own a major sports franchise.

Moreno grew up in Tucson and attended Tucson and Rincon high schools before graduating from the UA.

This past offseason, Moreno spent $146 million on free agents Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon, Kelvin Escobar and Jose Guillen and has the Angels just a series win away from getting into the postseason.

Former Wildcat J.T. Snow is hoping to have the Giants in the playoffs again this year. The Giants are battling for either the division crown or a possible wildcard birth.

Snow played at Sancet Stadium for coach Jerry Kindall from 1987-89 and was part of two regional qualifying teams.

Snow is having his best offensive season of his career this year at the age of 36, batting at a .328 clip.

Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox manager, is the only Wildcat player ever to win the Golden Spikes Award - the Heisman of college baseball - in 1980, and is hoping to add a World Series ring to his trophy case this season.

In his first year with the team, the Sox clinched the American League wildcard spot and will be on the road to open their divisional series Tuesday.

In the same year he was named national player of the year, Francona led Arizona to its second of three national championships on his way to College World Series MVP honors.

He spent 1978-1980 at the UA before going on to a 12-year pro playing career and since been a professional coach every year, including a four-year stint as the manager of the Phillies.

On Francona's rival team, the Yankees, sits former Arizona baseball and basketball player Kenny Lofton.

Lofton was more known for what he did in McKale Center than for his performance on the baseball diamond. He was the sixth-man on Arizona's 1988 Final Four basketball team who lost to Oklahoma and was the starting point guard for the Wildcats the next year when the team spent much of the season ranked No. 1. Lofton played alongside two NBA players in Sean Elliot and Steve Kerr and didn't start playing baseball until his junior year.

The Central Division Champion St. Louis Cardinals also have two former Wildcats on their 40-man roster, but neither is active for the postseason. Colin Porter and Josh Pearce both saw limited time for the red birds in 2004. Porter played at UA from 1995-98, while Pearce was with the Wildcats for the 1999 season.

This MLB postseason has the potential to have five of the eight teams still playing in October with UA ties. Besides being one of the most exciting postseasons to watch, the Wildcat connections should give you even more incentive to tune in to the MLB playoff chase and ensuing postseason.

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