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WORLD SERIES NOTES

They Don't Want a Padded Sell

October 22, 2000|ROSS NEWHAN and MIKE DiGIOVANNA and BILL PLASCHKE

NEW YORK — Baseball may soon start undressing major league hitters. Sandy Alderson, executive vice president for baseball operations, said at the World Series on Saturday night he is looking into all the padding that hitters wear to the plate and "by and large I'd like to see it eliminated."

"With the smaller strike zone and a lot of other things, it's introduced another advantage to hitters and taken some of the initiative away from pitchers," Alderson said, referring to the fact that well-padded hitters now tend to hang over the plate without fear of injury if hit by an inside pitch.

Alderson said he isn't concerned by the soft padding, but would like to see some of the harder type devices eliminated.

"There has to be some compromise where legitimate health or safety concerns are involved," Alderson said, "but I don't want a guy with a sore finger wrapped up to his shoulder with Kevlar."

The possibility of raising the mound to aid pitching "has been pushed to a back burner," Alderson said.

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Yankee right-hander Roger Clemens, who will start Game 2 against Met left- hander Mike Hampton tonight, said he will not shy away from pitching inside despite his July beaning of Met catcher Mike Piazza, an incident that stirred much ill will between the teams.

"That's part of my game," Clemens said. "Mike is a dangerous hitter, just like [Seattle's Alex Rodriguez] is, and I have to be aggressive. It's not going to affect how I go about my work."

Clemens threw two consecutive first-inning fastballs near the chin of Rodriguez in Game 4 of the ALCS, drawing the ire of the Mariners and Manager Lou Piniella. Clemens went on to pitch a one-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts.

Piniella accused Clemens of being a headhunter, saying he has a history of going up and in, especially to hot-hitting rookies or players who have done significant damage against him. Piazza hit a grand slam against Clemens in an earlier game.

Clemens took offense to such accusations.

"I've been playing for 17 years--I don't know how many guys I've hit, but I'm sure I'm going to hit some more guys," Clemens said.

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Hampton, who has thrown 16 consecutive scoreless innings in the playoffs, had a scary encounter the other day when a man jumped out in front of him near a construction site. Was it a mugger? An attacker? No, a Yankee fan, who proudly lifted his sweatshirt to reveal a Yankee T-shirt.

"He said, 'Ah! We're gonna get you again,' " Hampton said. "That shocked me a little bit. I didn't know if I was getting held up. Then he said, 'We got a lot of Mets fans here, but I'm a Yankee fan. We're gonna whip you.' I'm like, all right man, sounds good. You root for your team."

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For some New Yorkers, the Subway Series is actually The Ferry Series. Four ferrys are taking fans from Manhattan to either Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium, stopping within a short walk of both ballparks.

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Now You Know: The teeth on the necklace worn by Met relief pitcher Turk Wendell are the teeth or claws of the following creature: mountain lion, elk, turkey, wild pig, and polar bear.

Benny Agbayani, the Met left fielder, wears No. 50 to honor his Hawaiian background. Perhaps you remember the TV show, "Hawaii 5-0."

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Yankee Manager Joe Torre was asked Saturday how he decides which of his three World Series rings he should wear. "My little 4-year-old usually picks it," Torre said. "I say, 'Which one?' Five years ago, I never had one. Now I have a choice. That still blows my mind."

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