The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping to use the words of an opponent to write another improbable finish.
Designated hitter Don Baylor said Oakland wanted to play the New York Mets in the World Series because the Athletics wanted to beat the best team in the National League.The Dodgers beat the Mets 6-0 in Game 7 Wednesday night for the NL pennant and will host the first game of the Series on Saturday.
"We're past the point of looking for respect," Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia said. "If you don't have respect by the time you get to the World Series, you won't get it. It doesn't matter what people say. We might not have the best team talentwise, but we had the best team."
Several Dodgers admit they may not have the best team, they just don't like hearing about it from the opposition.
The Mets rallied to win Game 1 with three runs in the ninth inning off Orel Hershiser and reliever Jay Howell.
The next day, Mets pitcher David Cone wrote a first-person article for the New York Daily News and said Hershiser was "lucky" to shut out the Mets for eight innings and Howell looked like "a high school pitcher."
The Dodgers used the article as a source of inspiration and beat Cone 6-3 in Game 2.
In Game 7, Hershiser proved luck had nothing to do with it by pitching a five-hit shutout.
The Dodgers will need that kind of pitching to shut down the powerful A's who swept Boston in the American League playoffs and won 104 games during the season.
Rookie Tim Belcher is expected to open the 85th World Series against Oakland's Dave Stewart, 21-12 with a 3.23 earned run average.
Belcher won Games 2 and 5 in the NL playoffs and was the first rookie to win two games in the playoffs since the format was started in 1969.
He finished the regular season 12-6 and won nine of his last 11 decisions.
The Dodgers had an informal workout Thursday and Manager Tommy Lasorda discussed his pitching plans with coach Ron Perranoski.
Although it wasn't officially announced, the Dodgers are expected to start Hershiser in Game 2 against the A's Storm Davis and John Tudor in Game 3 against former Dodger Bob Welch, 17-9.
The Dodgers, Mets and A's made a three-way deal last winter and the Dodgers ended up with Howell, Jesse Orosco and shortstop Alfredo Griffin. Welch joined the A's in the deal.
"We hated to give up Bob Welch," Lasorda said. "But we needed help in the bullpen. Griffin helped solidify our defense and Orosco and Howell gave us a solid bullpen."
Hershiser, the playoff MVP, also started Games 1 and 3 and got a save in Game 4. He pitched 24 2-3 innings to set a playoff record.
"Tim (Belcher) did a great job for us and he was part of the team effort that beat the Mets," Hershiser said Thursday.
Belcher, a right-hander, was acquired from Oakland on Aug. 29, 1987 as the player to be named later in the trade for pitcher Rick Honeycutt. L.A. was 17-10 in games started by Belcher during the season and he was 7-2 with a 2.31 earned-run average after the All-Star break.