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Closer Look

Piniella shows baseball still is a mental game

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Latest: Wednesday October 04, 2000 01:17 AM

  Mike Cameron After a talk with his skipper, Mike Cameron stole second and scored on Edgar Martinez's home run. AP

By John Giannone, CNNSI.com

CHICAGO -- On the eve of this American League Division Series, White Sox Game 1 starter Jim Parque insisted the October stage would be no more daunting or nerve-wracking than the past six months.

"Baseball is baseball," Parque said. "Itís not like the Mariners will unveil some secret weapon that nobody has seen all year."

Think again, Jim.

Because the bit of mental gamesmanship unveiled by Mariners manager Lou Piniella in Game 1 on Tuesday was as unique as it was peculiar. It ultimately served to unnerve inexperienced Chicago reliever Keith Foulke at the pivotal moment.

And it proved that in the postseason, the only rule is there are no rules.

With the score tied 4-4 and one out in the 10th inning, ex-Sox outfielder Mike Cameron danced off first base. His antics attracted Foulkeís attention, as well as five throws to first base.

Suddenly, Piniella bounced from the dugout, called for time and ambled toward Cameron. The manager pulled his baserunner aside, wrapped his arm around Cameronís shoulder and whispered a few words. Moments later, Piniella retreated to the dugout.

"I told him the NASDAQ was down 113 points and Cisco was a heck of a buy," Piniella joked.

"The only time Iíve ever seen that is in Little League," Cameron said. "He told me to relax ... But I canít say exactly what he said. Itís a secret I have to keep under the sheets. It was a moment of truth."

"I didnít know what he was doing," Chicago second baseman Ray Durham said. "But evidently, it worked."

It worked because Foulke, Chicagoís dependable closer, proved to be as perplexed and distracted by Piniellaís impromptu visit as Comiskeyís sellout crowd.

Foulke immediately threw a pitchout, then watched a few pitches later as Cameron stole second. That set the daunting October stage for Edgar Martinez, who crushed a two-run homer to left-center field.

"Those are the types of things, the little things that make a big difference in games like this," Mariners catcher Dan Wilson said. "Maybe it threw off Foulke a little bit.

"This is playoff baseball," Wilson added. "Youíre going to see a lot of things you donít usually see."

All season, Seattle shortstop Alex Rodriguez has been seen sporting T-shirts with the slogan, "Weíre On A Mission, Sir." After Game 1, that motto might have to be altered.

Because as the White Sox discovered on Tuesday, their opponents are prepared to win "By Any Means Necessary."


 
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