Dusty Bergman, a 1996 Carson High graduate, has received an up close and personal look at some of the heroes that have led the Anaheim Angels to the verge of winning the World Series.
Bergman was a sixth round draft choice of the Angels in 1999 and has played in the Angels organization ever since. Among those he has pitched with up through the ranks, including this year with the Double A Arkansas Travelers and the Triple A Salt Lake Stingers, were John Lackey, Chris Donnelly and Francisco Rodriguez.
All three have played a key role in the Angels' World Series run, Lackey as a starting pitcher and Rodriguez and Donnelly in the bullpen.
Particularly impressive has been the 20-year-old phenom Rodriguez. After just a few appearances during the regular season, Rodriguez has gone 5-0 with a 1.38 earned run average in the postseason going into Wednesday's game four of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
The Cisco Kid has risen all the way from Double A at the start of the season to World Series hero. During the course of this past season, Bergman was the roommate of Lackey and Rodriguez.
"You could just see how good they were," said Bergman about Lackey, Rodriguez and Donnelly. "You could just tell."
Bergman said Rodriguez is even more dominant now than when he pitched at Double A to begin the year.
"He's pretty nasty," Bergman said. "He's actually doing better in the Big Leagues than he was in Double A as nasty as he was. He's always just dominated every league he's been in."
Rodriguez had been hurt much of the time he was in the minors, but now he's healthy, which has been the key, Bergman said.
Bergman had an up and down year himself this past season. He was dominant in Double A to begin the year and was brought up to Triple A.
He started out strong at Triple A before struggling and being sent back down to Double A. But he continued to pitch well at Double A and was called back up to Triple A where he pitched well at the end of the year.
His performance earned him an invite to the Arizona Fall League for top prospects. But Bergman said he won't be able to pitch in the league because he was invited just a few days ago and has shut it down for the past month.
He'll resume training in January and hopes to be named to the Angels' 40-man roster. If not, Bergman hopes to be invited to the Angels' Major League spring training camp as a non-roster player.
The left-handed pitcher has been converted from being a starting pitcher to a reliever. "Everybody wants one of those," said Bergman about being a left-handed reliever.
Bergman said the key will be to stay healthy. "If I start the year in Triple A, I'm still on schedule," Bergman said.
He hopes to make the Angels sometime in 2003. "To get a September call-up by the end of the year would be great," Bergman said.
Carson High football coach summed it up best when talking about his team's outlook for the upcoming Northern 4A playoffs.
"It's a mess," he said. "It comes down to a lot of things. I'm in the process of figuring things out."
The best-case scenario for Carson is for North Valleys to upset Hug. The Hawks have Sierra League games remaining with North Valleys and South Tahoe and it figures North Valleys would have the best shot at upsetting Hug.
If that happens, Carson would finish in a second place tie with Douglas at 4-2 in league if the Senators can beat the Tigers in the two teams' regular season finale. That's if Douglas doesn't beat Reno today to effectively win the Sierra League title.
In that scenario, Carson would receive the Sierra League's No. 2 seed and a home first round playoff game likely against Galena.
But if Douglas beats Reno and Hug wins out, Carson could finish 4-2 in league with a win over the Tigers, but still finish as the No. 4 seed. In that scenario, Reno and Douglas would finish at 5-1 and Hug and Carson would finish at 4-2.
With me so far. It gets even more confusing.
If Carson, Douglas and Hug all finish at 4-2, things become interesting. First, the Senators would need to beat Douglas by at least 13 points, which Quilling admits will not be an easy task.
It doesn't matter if the Senators win by 13 or 40 points, under the state's tiebreaking system, the most points that can be awarded for margin of victory is 13.
This is obviously a rule designed to make sure that teams aren't rewarded for running up the score, unlike other systems such as the sham that's known as the Bowl Championship Series.
"Then that throws us into some more things," said Quilling if his team is able to beat Douglas by at least 13 points.
After all is said and done, what could become the tiebreaker is total points allowed between Carson, Hug and Douglas in their games against each other again with no team being charged with more than 13 points per contest.
Based on that system, Hug has given up 19 points. Carson has given up 13 points and Douglas has allowed eight points. In a nutshell, Carson would need to hold the Tigers to fewer than six points and beat them by at least 13 points to clinch the league's No. 2 seed.
Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.