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What they're saying

By Compiled by Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2000

Newspaper excerpts going into Game 4:

No sport is as rife with superstitions and harbingers as baseball. Every team and almost every player looks for the broken-bat hit, the bloop, the crucial umpire's call that suddenly goes his way and changes everything that follows. Baseball is a game of subtle interlocking deeds. Change one, change everything that follows.

Finally, in Game 3, the luck of the Yankees changed. Throughout the post-season, they've virtually been given vital games by nervous, inexperienced foes, such as the fumble-fingered Oakland A's in Game 3 of the American League first-round series and the Mets with their Little League baserunning in Game 1 of the Series. The Yankees missed tough but injured starters, such as Seattle's Jamie Moyer, and watched Mariners reliever Arthur Rhodes self-destruct twice with little help from them. Even entire teams, such as the White Sox, who seemed to match up well against the Yankees, simply disappeared from their path. In this Series, they drew the NL's wild-card team.

But Tuesday night, instead of being blessed, they were cursed. And the Mets realized that, despite the evidence of the entire 20th century, everything doesn't always go the Yankees way whether they deserve it or not.

-- Thomas Boswell, Washington Post

* * *

Strange eighth-inning things happened in the park where Tommie Agee once made a spectacular catch in 1969 and Ray Knight made a desperate romp around the bases in 1986.

Derek Jeter couldn't quite hold Todd Zeile's single up the middle. Benny Agbayani, the new people's choice, broke the tie with a ringing double. And Bubba Trammell, evoking Dusty Rhodes, the Giant pinch-hitter deluxe of 1954, drove in an insurance run with a sacrifice fly.

At the very least, the Mets stopped the Yankees' World Series winning streak at 14 games, and ended the eight-game post-season streak of Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and guaranteed a fifth game on Thursday night.

And perhaps, just perhaps, the Mets may have opened the door for sliding, Swoboda-like catches and Dykstra-like home runs that marked their two previous world championships.

-- George Vecsey, N.Y. Times

* * *

With a 4-2 comeback victory in Game 3 at Shea Stadium, the New York Mets broke the unthinkable Yankee streak of 14 World Series victories while denting the unimaginable 8-0 post-season record of Orlando Hernandez.

All of it completed by the unreal:

Joe Torre was outmanaged.

Bobby Valentine outmanaged him.

Torre was too liberal with his starting pitcher, too conservative with his offense, and too apathetic with his tenor.

Valentine was bolder and smarter and as consistent as his grin.

Torre, a man whom even George Steinbrenner cannot fire, worked the game as if he were afraid to lose his job.

Valentine, a man whose contract expires any minute now, worked the game as if he has a lifetime contract.

After spending much of the past five years sculpting post-season beauties, Torre handled this baby with oven mitts.

After managing most of his major-league career with all the touch of a Mack truck, Valentine was suddenly Connie Mack.

-- Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times

* * *

You have a problem. You know how to solve it. You even have a set of procedures designed to solve it, but you don't follow them, making matters worse.

Pretty stupid, right?

Welcome to major-league baseball, the sport that knows how to shorten post-season games -- and all others, for that matter -- yet remains frozen in its usual state of paralysis.

Former umpire Steve Palermo suggested pace-of-game policies in 1995. The commissioner's office instituted time-of-game procedures in 1998 with consent from both the players and umpires.

But little has changed.

"There's no penalty. There's nothing involved," says Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, the MLB vice president for on-field operations. "It's just like anything else. If you don't have something that gets your attention, you'll continue doing things the way you want to do them."

-- Ken Rosenthal, The Sporting News

* * *

After what happened at Yankee Stadium over the weekend, there was fear that the Mets might be frauds. They ran the bases like graduates of the Wendell Kim Academy, kicked the ball all over the Bronx, and didn't show us any depth. They were clearly intimidated by Clemens -- the Bernie Goetz of the Subway Series -- and it was getting embarrassing in Flushing.

But they got it all back in one evening -- in a game that would have made Ron Swoboda and Tug McGraw proud. Mets fans are shouting "You Gotta Believe" once again.

-- Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe

* * *

Orlando Hernandez decided earlier this season that it made more sense to say absolutely nothing to the reporters who cover the team. Rather than reveal his true feelings, Hernandez offers brief and colorless comments about himself, his pitching and his team. That is too bad, because he is a fabulous story.

Hernandez still talks openly to some of his Spanish-speaking teammates and he told Luis Sojo last month that he was not worried about how he had pitched in the regular season. The playoffs are my time, El Duque told Sojo.

El Duque is an extraordinary pitcher who gets even nastier when the games are most important. He exhibited that on Tuesday night as he pitched solidly into the eighth inning while striking out 12, pushing himself as his pitch count soared. The playoffs are his time.

Except on Tuesday night.

-- Jack Curry, N.Y. Times

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