Relief Pitchers and Clock Watchers


October 22—The 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 town—even 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.
There’s 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 you’ve
come this far, you can’t 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 Valentine’s
comment that “we came in with a little World Series experience and got
a lot of it tonight” produces instant results—especially 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 he’d thrown to Paul O’Neill when the
Yankee right fielder fought his way through that dramatic
bottom-of-the-ninth rally-starting 10-pitch walk. “He beat me…I
didn’t do my job,” was all Benitez kept saying, regardless of the
questions posed. “I’ll try again tomorrow.” True enough, but in a
short series, those tomorrows disappear awfully quick—especially if you
don’t learn anything from yesterday.