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1998 Playoffs

'Chuck Brainlauch'

Yankees second baseman laments failure to fetch

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Posted: Friday October 09, 1998 09:44 AM

  Chuck Knoblauch: "I screwed up the play, and I feel terrible about that. I should have went and got the ball, regardless of what the outcome of the umpire's call was." AP

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Chuck Knoblauch nearly needed a police escort to escape New York. When he arrived in Cleveland, it was the middle of the night but the Yankees second baseman already was the toast of the town.

Knoblauch's questionable decision to argue with umpires while the Cleveland Indians scored the go-ahead run in the 12th inning cost New York a loss in Game 2 in the American League championship series.

By the time he reached his hotel room after the flight to Ohio, Knoblauch had run the play over in his mind hundreds of times. And after finally seeing it on TV for the first time, he understood his failure.

"I screwed up," he said Thursday.

An off day before Friday's third game provided the Indians and Yankees a chance to recover from Wednesday's thrilling 4-1 Cleveland win, which tied the series 1-1. The Indians' full team worked out at Jacobs Field while only a handful of Yankees came to the ballpark as manager Joe Torre made their workout optional.

Knoblauch, booed loudly by the Yankee Stadium crowd in his final at-bat in Game 2 and ripped in the New York papers with banner headlines such as "Blauch Head" and "Chuck Brainlauch," couldn't stay away.

He needed to explain himself and ask forgiveness.

"I screwed up the play, and I feel terrible about that," he said in an unscheduled appearance in the interview room. "I should have went and got the ball, regardless of what the outcome of the umpire's call was. ... I need to apologize to my teammates and my manager and the Yankees and all the Yankee fans. Bottom line, I screwed up the play."

By admitting his mistake, Knoblauch and the Yankees can now turn their attention to facing the Indians.

Since falling behind 5-0 in the first inning of Game 1, Cleveland has slightly outplayed the team that won an AL-record 114 games during the regular season and has been favored to win the World Series.

New York had plenty of chances to go up 2-0 in the series, but failed in clutch situations all game long.

The Yankees were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. And after hitting .299 with men at second and third during the regular season, the Yanks are batting just .182 (8-for-44) during the postseason.

"We had so many chances to win that game earlier, and we didn't," Paul O'Neill said. "But so did the Indians. Hey, we lost one game and hopefully we'll come back and rally around each other."

In Game 3, the Yankees will face Bartolo Colon, who limited them to three hits in eight innings in Cleveland's 11-0 win June 21. Andy Pettitte, who lost to the Indians twice in last year's first-round series, will start for New York.  

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Wacky bunt play spurs Indians past Yanks in 12
Viewpoint from Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci: Knoblauch's mistake bigger than ump's
Another strange postseason victory for Tribe
Stats
Yankees 1998 Postseason Fielding Stats
Multimedia
frame Chuck Knoblauch says he now knows he made a crucial error
  • Start(870 K .MOV)
Knoblauch says he has to put the incident behind him (112 K)
Mike Hargrove says the team took advantage of the opportunity (217 K)
Yankees manager says the team has to focus on the future, not the past (116 K)
Sandy Alomar says the Indians are in a good position (197 K)
Jim Thome says the Indians have accomplished their mission in New York (189 K)
Andy Pettitte says he has to get the Yankees back on track (443 K)
Travis Fryman says the Indians have to make adjustments to Pettitte (227 K)
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