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What they're saying

By Compiled by Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2000

Newspaper excerpts after Game 1:

Sympathy is an orphan in Yankee Stadium. Certainly for the Yankees, who wouldn't know what to do with it anyhow.

"People expect us to win," said Yankee Game 1 starter Andy Pettitte.

"If we win the Series, we're supposed to. If the Mets win it will be "unbelievable.' We don't have a lot to gain, except another World Series title and a three-peat."

Boo and hoo. Your heart does not rush out to the Yankees, playing 'em one dynasty at a time, this one, the Torre Years, trying get its 13th straight Series victory Saturday, this one against night to the Mets, who prefer to be more amazin' than unbelievable.

On the night the world of baseball had shrunk to the size of an egg cream, a night started with perfect-game pitcher Don Larsen throwing the first pitch through perfect-game catcher Yogi Berra, pitching prevailed into extra innings.

All the majesty and all the myth of Yankee Stadium, usually reliable weapons against wide-eyed visitors to the Bronx, even those from just across town, were needed to overcome Al Leiter's cut fastball and a feeble little roller barely past the pitcher's mound from Edgardo Alfonzo in the seventh inning.

- Bernie Lincicome, Rocky Mountain News

* * *

After 44 years of waiting and three days of hype, New York got a Subway Series opener on Saturday night that actually measured up to its dreams.

In the longest World Series game in history -- 4 hours, 51 minutes -- the Yankees took Game 1 when Jose Vizcaino lined a single to left off Turk Wendell with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the 12th inning, giving them a 4-3 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 55,913.

The Mets made their play for greatness, coming within two outs in the ninth inning of winning before closer Armando Benitez failed to save another postseason game. All they learned was what veterans of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants could have told them: The Yankees aren't just the kings of the World Series, they own the Subway Series, too.

"We've done this a number of times," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I'd like to believe we find a way to win."

- T.J. Quinn, Daily News

* * *

Here were a legion of Mets fans, involved in a fabulously torturous game of "What if?' during the ninth inning of Game 1 of the World Series.

What if John Franco had been allowed to carry over a successful eighth inning of relief and started the ninth instead of Armando Benitez?

What if Paul O'Neill hadn't fouled off so many pitches and hadn't walked on a full-count pitch?

What if the Mets had just plated a simple insurance run in the top of the ninth, instead of leaving runners at second and third and one out with the infield in?

Surely, it would have prevented the heart-pounding, nerve-wracking tension that followed in a 4-3, 12-inning loss to the Yankees.

Wherefore art thou, Al Leiter?

- Pete Caldera, The (Hackensack N.J.) Record

* * *

As the Mets and Yankees collide for the first postseason New York baseball war in 44 years, George Steinbrenner has been a billboard of confidence -- maybe even overconfidence. He scoffs at suggestions that the upstart Mets could actually bring down the Bomber empire.

"Don't you worry, when the time comes, we'll be there," The Boss told reporters, one of several variations of a we-are-bulletproof mantra repeated throughout the day. However, members of the organization say Steinbrenner is so worried about losing to the Mets, he's already threatening Stadium employees.

During an organization-wide meeting this week -- which senior officials and middle-level employees were required to attend -- Steinbrenner sent word that no job would be secure should the Yankees lose.

"Basically, we were all put on notice. We were told heads would roll," said one source. In all the years of Steinbrenner's volatility, not to mention his excesses, Yankee officials say they've never been delivered such a system-wide threat. That's how much anxiety the World Series causes him.

- Bob Klapisch, The (Hackensack N.J.) Record

* * *

Long before the politicians and transit bosses boarded the pinstriped Subway Series 2000 train at Grand Central Station last night, it was standing-room-only on the No. 4 to the Bronx.

If you were waiting for a train anyplace else in the city last night, chances are you had to wait. You had to wait for the Nos. 2 and 3. You had to wait for the E and the F.

The No. 4 to Yankee Stadium, however, was running, running, every four, five minutes without fail. The subway platform at Grand Central was jammed.

Think afternoon rush on the night before Thanksgiving Day. The only room to move was straight down to the tracks.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Gov. George Pataki and Virgil Conway, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, had the privilege of riding one of New York City Transit's new $13-million high-tech trains, with a fresh coat of pinstripes and Yankees and Mets logos. It was grand style for people who probably never owned a MetroCard.

- Ray Sanchez, Newsday

* * *

Overheard outside the most famous stadium in sports, before as big a night as this spectacle-saturated city has ever known:

"I never thought this was going to happen."

"I'll trade you sex for two tickets."

"I just need $1 from 300 people to get my car out of impound."

"Your manager wore a fake mustache twice."

"If you give me your tickets, I'll give you a baseball autographed by Jesus Christ."

"I bought Yankee panties on the Internet for $6, and I'm going to throw them at Derek Jeter."

"Who's playing tonight?"

"This is the best night of my life."

How do you measure insanity? What does it look like? It had a face Saturday night, and it was painted the colors of New York's beloved baseball teams, and it was smiling. It raised its middle fingers a lot, too, and found a disarming number of usages for the word "suck," but not everything can be as perfect as Don Larsen was the last time two teams from New York met in a World Series.

The first-ever Yankees-Mets World Series began here Saturday, the Yankees beating the Mets 4-3 in 12 innings, but that scoreboard felt a little beside the point, a speedbump on the parade route. Nobody had waited 44 years to watch Al Leiter make pickoff throws to first. The rest of this series will belong to baseball. This night belonged to Broadway.

- Dan Le Batard, Miami Herald

* * *

He started his day with a Mets prayer at St. Patrick's and closed it on a Yankee miracle in another cathedral, the Stadium, a place where the home team deals in the business of late October magic. Bobby Valentine had this wild and crazy game won. He had it won even after Todd Zeile discovered baseball isn't a game of inches, but quarter-inches.

Zeile couldn't find his Jeff Maier in the left-field seats in the sixth, and his near-miss that bounced off the top of wall was the first sign that this would be a long and indelible Subway Series night. At 1:04 a.m., Joe Torre looked like the smartest man in the house, just like he always does.

"We came in to get a little World Series experience," Valentine said, "and we got a lot of it in one night."

- Ian O'Connor, (Westchester) Journal News

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