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Phillips Accuses James of Throwing at Bordick

October 13, 2000|PAUL GUTIERREZ

ST. LOUIS — New York Met General Manager Steve Phillips ignited the first war of words in the National League championship series by telling a group of New York writers Wednesday night that he believed St. Louis Cardinal reliever Mike James intentionally threw at Met shortstop Mike Bordick in Game 1.

James had just given up three runs on home runs by Todd Zeile and Jay Payton in the ninth inning and immediately hit Bordick, the Mets' No. 8 hitter, with a rising pitch on his right thumb.

Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa was incensed when told of Phillips' comments.

"That's impossible; he didn't say that," a disbelieving La Russa said before the Mets defeated the Cardinals, 6-5, in Game 2. "Swear on your mother he said that."

When writers swore, La Russa went off.

"I can't believe that he could be so stupid," La Russa said. "Let's play the game. He ought to be ashamed of himself. Give me a break."

Surrounded by a swarming media throng, Phillips did not back off of his claim.

"I'm not ashamed of myself," Phillips said. "He can feel any way he wants to feel. I'm not mad today, I was a little upset last night.

"I'm not trying to make this a Steve Phillips-Tony La Russa battle," he added. "I absolutely do not think that La Russa signaled [James] to hit him; I think he did it on his own."

James, meanwhile, maintained his innocence.

"People who think that are complete idiots," the former Angel said. "What's the point [of throwing at Bordick]? If I'm going to throw at somebody, I'm not going to throw at the smallest guy."

La Russa, who managed Bordick with the Oakland Athletics from 1990-95, said the shortstop is one of his all-time favorite players.

"He's tied for first," La Russa said. "But even if I hated him, I wouldn't throw at him."

Bordick, meanwhile, does not think that James threw at him, though Bordick sat out Game 2 with a contusion on the thumb as X-rays proved negative.

"He's less than 100% but he's capable of playing," Met Manager Bobby Valentine said of Bordick. "We're optimistic about that."

Kurt Abbott, whose error in the ninth inning of Game 1 led to the Cardinals' first run, replaced Bordick in the lineup.

"He's played very well defensively," Valentine said of Abbott. "I'm not sure there is much of a drop-off."


Valentine was upset at the powers that be for scheduling a mandatory off-day workout at Shea Stadium today at 3 p.m.

"I don't want a late workout but somebody tells me I have to, some supreme power," he said. "We get back at 4 a.m. so I'd like to give them the day off rather than work out, sure. But if we have to do that, that's what we'll do."


Game 1: New York 6, St. Louis 2

Game 2: New York 6, St. Louis 5

Saturday: St. Louis (An. Benes 12-9) at New York (Reed 11-5), 1:15 p.m.

Sunday: St. Louis (Kile 20-9) at New York (B.J. Jones 11-6), 5 p.m.

Monday: St. Louis at New York, 5:15 p.m.*

Wednesday: New York at St. Louis, 1:15 p.m.*

Thursday: New York at St. Louis, 5:15 p.m.*

TV--Ch. 11; *--if necessary

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