Relief Pitchers and Clock Watchers
October 22The city that never sleeps slumbered soundly last night. It had to. It was exhausted.
A World Series-record-breaking four-hour 51-minute, 12-inning marathon between its two baseball teams will do that to a towneven New York. We asked the oldest player on the field, 40-year-old Met reliever John Franco (whose scoreless eighth-inning hold ultimately went for naught) if he thought Game 1 was indicative of how the rest of this Fall Classic might go. "Yeah, fight 'n' scratch from the first pitch. Theres no die in either team," said Franco, who happens to be the only actual native New Yorker playing in the Subway Series. "I think the team that makes the least mistakes is gonna win this thing. When youve come this far, you cant afford to make too many mistakes, because one or the other is gonna take advantage of it. We know we had this game, and we kind of gave it away. Hopefully, that won't happen again."
Maybe not, but the Mets had better hope manager Bobby Valentines comment that "we came in with a little World Series experience and got a lot of it tonight" produces instant resultsespecially for the muy macho Armando Benitez, who blew his umpteenth career postseason save in Game 1. By nature, a short reliever has to have the temperament to "turn the page," but it helps to read it first. After the game, Benitez seemed unsure of what hed thrown to Paul ONeill when the Yankee right fielder fought his way through that dramatic bottom-of-the-ninth rally-starting 10-pitch walk. "He beat me...I didnt do my job," was all Benitez kept saying, regardless of the questions posed. "Ill try again tomorrow." True enough, but in a short series, those tomorrows disappear awfully quickespecially if you dont learn anything from yesterday.
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