© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2001
Jeter gets mother off his back
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter had to get a big hit.
Every good boy listens to his mother.
After a strong division series, Jeter had struggled, going 2-for-17 in the ALCS and 1-for-11 through the first three games of the World Series plus four hitless at-bats Wednesday.
"She's been saying, "Do something,' for the last four games plus Seattle," Jeter said. "So she's been, I think, tired of saying that."
But Dorothy Jeter doesn't have to say it anymore. Plus, she's probably hoarse from cheering after her son hit a home run with two outs in the 10th inning to lead the Yankees to a 4-3 victory.
"The beauty of the postseason is that it really makes no difference what you've done up to a certain point because every time you are at the plate or every time you are in the field, you have the opportunity to do something special," Jeter said.
"So the thing with our team is who cares what the scoreboard says your stats are; you come up big in big situations."
Plus, Jeter is a logical candidate. Before the game, in discussing Jeter's health, manager Joe Torre said, "I'm sure he's not 100 percent, but he would be the last one to use that as an excuse. We all remember a few years ago (in 1988) when Kirk Gibson got up there on one leg and hit a home run."
NEW YORK -- Mike Mussina's performance in Saturday's Series opener was so bad, he decided there was only one thing he could do before taking the mound again tonight.
"I'll probably just forget about it," Mussina said. "There's not much I'd like to remember, so I'll just forget about it. It's a different setting, a different situation. We'll start new and try to go after them again."
There are several theories why Mussina struggled so much. It was his first career Series appearance, he never had pitched off the Bank One Ballpark mound, he had a routine-breaking eight days' rest.
But his problem, which led to him allowing six hits and five runs in three innings, actually was very basic.
"I could not throw it where I wanted to throw it," Mussina said. "Just that simple."
Given the way Mussina pitched during the season and his stellar performance in the third game of the division series ("His signature game," manager Joe Torre said), the Yankees have supreme confidence he'll do better.
"Just one of those days," Torre said.
TORRE A FREE MAN: Torre's contract expired Wednesday, but he doesn't expect to be going anywhere.
"I don't think it's going to be an issue," Torre said. "George (Steinbrenner, principal owner) and I have talked enough and I think we are both sort of in agreement that we both want to keep this thing going on." The New York papers have been reporting Torre is close to a three-year extension that will pay him $16-million.
General manager Brian Cashman also is working without a contract today. He reportedly is close to a three-year deal worth about $4-million.
ROCKET FUELED: Roger Clemens is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in five career Series starts, but he still is not considered a big-game pitcher. Torre said after Tuesday's game that Clemens should never have to defend himself again.
"People writing that need to look at that," Clemens said. "It does not amaze me at all. If it would have been a tie game today, I still would have done my job. That's what I was trying to do, keep us in it to win it. Again, write what you want. It's not going to change anything.
"To me, it's just an honor to have this opportunity at this stage of my career. ... I relish the moment and I enjoy being out there, the competition. The only critics I really worry about are the guys that I perform with. And I think if you ask any of my teammates over the 18 years, they would give you definite and true answers."
CONTRACTION RUMORS: Veteran Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Sid Hartman wrote Wednesday that after meeting with Twins owner Carl Pohlad, "There is no doubt in my mind that he has made up his mind to allow contraction to eliminate the Twins if Major League Baseball goes along with its plans to get rid of two clubs -- Montreal and the Twins."
Hartman also wrote that "Major League Baseball would prefer to eliminate the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or Florida Marlins rather than the Twins. However, the Devil Rays have a long-term lease and a big debt. The Marlins will not be eliminated because owner John Henry does not want to lose his team to contraction. So, baseball is working on a plan whereby the ownership of the Montreal Expos will use the money they will get in contraction to buy the Marlins. Then, Henry would use that money to buy the Anaheim Angels from Disney."
Major League Baseball is so serious about contraction, Hartman wrote, that it has 10-12 lawyers working on the issues.
MISCELLANY: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Tuesday earned his eighth career Series save, extending his record. It was the seventh time he pitched more than one inning. ... Tuesday's win was the Yankees' eighth straight at home, tying the Series record.