Work in Sports
Mellow with capital M's
Mariners keep it cool on and off the field
By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated
NEW YORK -- The media entered the clubhouse of the victorious Mariners after Game 1 of the American League Championship Series to the subtle grooves of a track from independent hip-hop artist Common's recent album, "Like Water for Chocolate."
It wasn't Eminem, Public Enemy or "Who Let the Dogs Out?" or any other heart-pumping, we-just-beat-the-world-champions-and-we're-ready-to-party type of cut. It was smooth, suave and above all, cool. Said center fielder Mike Cameron, who owns the CD, "We're that type of club ... laid back."
Indeed, the faint odor permeating the Seattle clubhouse wasn't sweat or infield dirt, but onions. The Mariners left the hallowed Yankee Stadium diamond just as they had entered it -- with consummate cool.
Thus did starter Freddy Garcia, in Cameron's words, "do it Pedro style," and limit the Yankees to three hits in his 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball. In the game's most pivotal moment, he struck out Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams and got David Justice to fly out to deep center with two on in the bottom of the sixth.
"I told myself, 'Calm down, take it easy, just throw your pitches,'" said Garcia. "It was cold but I still felt pretty good. I had everything going."
Thus did Rickey Henderson ignore the taunts of fans in the leftfield stands and around the plate -- "Hey Rickey! Wanna Play Go Fish?!" -- and drive in Seattle's first run with a single to right in the fifth inning.
"The guy's cool under pressure," Cameron said. "The fans are talking trash at him and he goes about his job. He's the guy you love to hate, but he continues to go about his job."
Thus did 32-year-old rookie Kazuhiro Sasaki shake off initial jitters and work his way out of a two-on, one-out jam in the ninth inning to record his third postseason save and draw a well-deserved phalanx of ebullient Japanese media to his locker after the game.
"He was a little excited but he made some great pitches," shortstop Alex Rodriguez said. "When Kaz is out there, we feel confident."
Much of the postgame talk focused on what it was like to play in Yankee Stadium in the playoffs. The Mariners' awe was tempered by their focus.
"It's special playing where Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio played, but when we're on the road, we feel unified, like we're in this war together," said Rodriguez. Garcia, who matched a season high with eight strikeouts in his first outing of the year against the Yankees, warded off the night chill by watching the end of the game in the visitor's clubhouse, where Common's mellow voice set the tone.