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Hampton says he's rested, ready

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2000


NEW YORK -- Before he pitched what proved to be the clinching fifth game of the NL Championship Series, Mets left-hander Mike Hampton said he looked forward "to pitching the game of my life."

On the eve of his first World Series start, the Crystal River High product was slightly less bold.

"I feel comfortable," Hampton said. "I mean, I think everything's lined up for me physically and mentally to pitch well. I have every expectation of pitching well."

Hampton was lined up to pitch Saturday's opener, coming off his sterling complete game against the Cardinals. But he said he wasn't surprised that manager Bobby Valentine picked Al Leiter for the opener.

Plus, Hampton said, the extra day's rest might help after his 120-pitch effort. The only thing he was disappointed about is that by pitching Games 2 and 6 in Yankee Stadium, he won't get a chance to hit.

"I would actually enjoy that," he said. "I've got a lot of buddies on different teams that haven't been to a World Series. If I could get a hit, there would be some good ribbing right there."

ROCKET MAN: In his one-hit, 15-strikeout performance in the ALCS, Roger Clemens showed that he has plenty of stuff left. But Clemens' best weapon might be intimidation. "I don't really look at myself that way ... (but) if intimidating goes with it, I love what I do," Clemens said. "I take it very seriously."

SO, I WAS WONDERING ... : The Series is such a hot ticket that no one is above reproach. Commissioner Bud Selig said his phone was ringing all week, and there were some rather, um, interesting callers. "I have to be careful how I say this ... they were some folks in the political arena," he said.

MAKING WAY FOR JOSE: The Yankees added Jose Canseco to the roster Saturday, and may start him at DH tonight with Chuck Knoblauch moving to second base. Left-handed reliever Randy Choate, who worked 12/3 innings in the two playoff series, was dropped.

THIS TOO SHALL PASS: Mets reliever Dennis Cook apparently passed the kidney stone that had been bothering him and is expected to be available throughout the Series. "We called him early this morning before we finalized the roster," Valentine said. "He said he had a great night's sleep, he felt good and was ready to go."

SUBWAY SERIES: The Series matchup, as you may have heard, features two teams from New York. It is the 14th time two teams from New York have met in the final, and the 16th time two teams from the same city did so. The other two? The Chicago White Sox beat the Cubs in 1906, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Browns in 1944. It also is the 20th World Series to be played within one state. There were Oakland-Los Angeles matchups in 1974 and '88, Kansas City-St. Louis in '85 and Oakland-San Francisco in '89.

HOPE FOR THE DEVIL RAYS: The Mets are playing in their fourth World Series in 39 years, the most for an expansion team from 1961 or later. The Royals and Padres have played in two each, the Marlins and Brewers one apiece. ... The Mets join the '97 Marlins as the only wild-card teams to reach the Series.

TORRE STORY: Joe Torre is the first to face two teams he previously managed in Series play. He managed the Mets from 1977-81 and the Braves from 1982-84.

MISCELLANY: Dwight Gooden joins Darryl Strawberry as the only players to appear in the World Series for the Mets and Yankees. ... The AL leads the Series 56-39. ... Including exhibitions, the Yankees hold a 70-50-1 edge on the Mets. ... President Clinton reportedly will attend tonight's game. No word on the candidate of the same last name running for New York's U.S. Senate seat. ... Whitey Ford will throw tonight's ceremonial first pitch to fellow Yankees great Phil Rizzuto.

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