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Glavine knows non-support

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Posted: Saturday October 16, 1999 01:44 AM


By Aimee Crawford, CNN/SI

NEW YORK -- Tom Glavine knows all about stingy run support. The Braves lefthander, who made his 25th postseason start Friday night against the Mets, has been on both ends of a playoff pitcher's duel.

In 1991, Glavine lost Game 5 of the NLCS to Pittsburgh despite allowing only one run over eight innings. In 1995, Glavine tossed a one-hitter over eight innings in the Braves' 1-0 Game 6 World Series clincher against Cleveland. He was asked after the game how his stellar outing (seven shutout innings, eight strikeouts) against the Mets Friday night compared.

"Obviously, the game against Cleveland is a better game for different reasons," said Glavine. "That game brought us a championship."

Braves manager Bobby Cox thought his pitcher's performance against the Mets was on par with his World Series masterpiece. "They had more hits off him [this time], but I'm not so sure he didn't throw harder tonight," he said.

The two-time Cy Young winner may have been simply ordinary against other teams in the NL this season, but he owned the Mets. Glavine had an ERA over 4.00 for only the third time in his career, and a major league-high 259 hits, but against the Mets during the regular season he was 3-0 with an ERA of 1.71.

Friday night, Glavine stayed ahead in the count on most batters, and had great location in his fastball. And he showed some prowess at the plate. Even though he was done pitching (by mutual decision) after seven innings, Cox sent Glavine up to bat in the eight after Walt Weiss drew a leadoff walk. Glavine laid down a textbook bunt to advance Weiss to second.

"Tommy is as good a bunter as there is in Major League Baseball," said Cox.

Leiter not so fluid

The Mets had only eight multi-error games during the regular season, but now have had two such games in this series alone. When Al Leiter threw wild to first and Mike Piazza misfired on a double-steal - both in the first inning -- it marked the first time all season the Mets have had two errors in one inning.

Battered backstop

Mets catcher Mike Piazza was ploughed over by Bret Boone in the first inning, nailed on the knuckle by Gerald Williams' bat in the and forced to dive after at least four other balls in the dirt. The first blow leveled him and caused a mild concussion, but after a few minutes he regained his composure and stayed in the game. Trainers attended to him again after the whack on the hand - the same hand that swelled up after a cortisone shot and rendered him unable to play in two games of the division playoff against Arizona.

Mets manager Bobby Valentine conceded his star slugger might not be able start Saturday's game.

"He has a knot in his knuckle that's pretty severe," said Valentine. "We'll have to see."

Meddle management

Bobby Cox found out during the pregame press conference that Cleveland had fired manager Mike Hargrove after the Indians failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs.

"That's really a shocker," said Cox. "There must have been underlying problems with the front office. I'm flabbergasted."

Valentine was surprised, too. "I hate to see that happen. It's not something [we playoff managers] don't like to see."

Plenty of Bronx cheers in Queens

John Rocker, Mets fans are ready for you. You too,, Chipper. Bobby Cox, even your dirty laundry isn't off limits here.

The trash-talking duel that began last month when Jones told Mets fans to go home and "put their Yankees stuff on" reached a crescendo this week after Rocker called Mets fans "stupid" and a "tired act."

As expected, the battery-throwing Big Apple crowd welcomed Rocker (also known as "New York Public Enemy No. 1" or "The Mouth from the South" in the city's tabloids), Jones and Cox with a thundering chorus of boos when each was introduced before the game. They serenaded Jones with chants of "LAAA-REEEE, LAAA-REEE" (his given name) just about every time he moved. But the lustiest boos were reserved for the outspoken Rocker.

The rowdy fans didn't cow the Braves' closer. "I'm happy I can push [their] buttons so easily," said Rocker before the game. "I'm not afraid of them."

Though the P.A. announcer appealed to the crowd not to "act in a rude or disorderly manner", the sold-out Shea Stadium welcoming committee would have none of it.

The area behind the Braves' third-base dugout looked like a public restroom wall, as fans greeted Jones, Rocker and Cox with handmade signs -- most of them not printable here and many confiscated by stadium security before the game began.

One of the clean(er) signs of the bunch played off Rocker's remark from earlier in the week: "We may be 'stupid asses', but at least we're not empty seats."

Agent Orange ... and Blue?

Jazz great Branford Marsalis performed the National Anthem, Mets legend Tom Seaver tossed out the ceremonial first pitch, but another celebrity garnered the most autograph pleas before the game -- Arli$$.

Robert Wuhl, star of the HBO series about a fictional -- and often unscrupulous -- sports agent, was among the throng of players and media on the field during batting practice. In between giving interviews and signing autographs, he chatted up a few players. Was the dapper deputy scouting for celebrity guests to appear on future episodes?

"I'm just here to see some good baseball," said Wuhl, who has played Arliss Michaels, the scurrilous title character of the series, for four seasons. "I grew up in New York, and I love New York baseball."

So he's rooting for the Mets to rally past the Braves and meet the Yankees in a Subway Series, right? Not necessarily.

"Baseball is a business," Wuhl demurred, "and I have so many friends on both these teams -- Piazza, Maddux. I'm just rooting for a good game."

Well, O.K. We wouldn't expect an agent to give us a straight answer. But Wuhl is no stranger to baseball drama. He played Al Stump in "Cobb" and Larry, the pitching coach, in "Bull Durham." Perhaps he's doing some character development for another sports flick?

"I'm not planning to do another baseball movie right now, but I'd certainly be open to it ... if I saw a good script," said Wuhl.

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