On the Diamond
Jones wants to face Yanks to for 'team of decade' title
Posted: Sunday October 17, 1999 10:09 AM
By Aimee Crawford, CNN/SI
NEW YORK -- You'd think Chipper Jones would be tired of New York by now.
The Braves' third baseman is hitting a paltry .173 against the Mets in the National League Championship Series, and has endured an almost continuous barrage of invective from the Shea Stadium faithful.
With Atlanta poised for a berth in its fifth World Series of the decade, Jones fielded questions during batting practice before Game 4 about which American League team he'd prefer to take on in the Fall Classic.
He admitted he'd enjoy catching up with some of the former teammates who now play for the Boston Red Sox, but the chance to settle this "Team of the Decade" thing really appeals to him.
"A rematch of the '96 World Series would be pretty intriguing," Jones said, "A chance for us to knock off the World Champs. As an opponent, you like to have that opportunity."
Even if it means more exposure to those notorious New York fans?
"That doesn't bother me," Jones said. "It's all just talk."
But Jones insisted the Braves aren't looking past the Mets tonight.
"We're not taking anything for granted," he said. "We were up 2-0 in '96 and look what happened."
Carter on catchers
Former Mets catcher Gary Carter, a member of New York's 1986 World Championship team, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The guy on the other end of the toss was current Mets backstop Mike Piazza.
Piazza started the game despite suffering a concussion after a collision with Bret Boone in Game 3. Carter conceded Piazza as one of the toughest players in the game. Would the former Mets catcher go so far as to call the current one the best backstop in the game today? Or ever?
"Offensively, Mike is right there," said Carter as he watched the Mets take batting practice before the game. "But I'd have to say that Pudge Rodriguez is the total package.
"The best ever? That would have to be Johnny Bench."
Last night, Mets manager Bobby Valentine modified his lineup in an attempt to counteract the effect southpaw Tom Glavine would have on his lefthanded hitters, batting righthander Melvin Mora eighth and starting him in center field.
"Everyone knows that was a very daring thing that I did with the lineup yesterday, to put Mora in there," said Valentine. "He won't be in the lineup today."
It was daring in part because it was Mora's first major league start. The hero of the Mets' regular-season-ending victory against Pittsburgh (he scored the winning run on a wild pitch), Mora is hitting .500 for the NLCS (3-for-6) and he swatted the team's lone home run in Game 2, but he has served mainly as late-inning defensive replacement. Mora made a stellar defensive play in Game 3, nailing Atlanta's Bret Boone for a double play at home plate as Boone attempted to score on Brian Jordan's fly ball to center.
With righthander John Smoltz taking the hill in Game 4, Valentine turned back to lefthanded-hitting Darryl Hamilton. Hamilton hit .315 in 55 games with the Mets during the regular season, but is batting .167 in the NLCS.