Work in Sports
Calm, but not content
Mets one step closer to fulfilling expectations
By Tom Rinaldi, CNNSI.com
ST. LOUIS -- Looking for an overlooked ingredient to success, in postseason baseball or any other season in life?
Expecting to succeed, from the start.
That expectation, realized, permeated the mood in the Mets clubhouse following their win against the Cardinals in the Game 1 of the NLCS.
No music blaring, no loud back-slapping, no self-satisfied laughter echoing. The sound was more subtle, and difficult to hear -- the noise of winning when a team already believes it can.
The reason for such confidence, at least in the series opener? A chorus of faith in the one man who made the difference Tuesday night -- left-hander hurler Mike Hampton.
"He's been pitching that way all year. We just haven't scored enough runs for him," Robin Ventura said.
"You come to expect it out of him because he's been so good in the second half of the season," Todd Zeile said.
Hampton did his talking on the mound, never panicking, working out of trouble, helping the Cardinals to strand 11 baserunners.
To a man, the Mets seemed as happy for Hampton as for the team as a whole, and none were surprised at his tenacity on a night when he managed a 1-2-3 inning just once.
He was the perfect example of New York's clubhouse without chaos -- patient with all the reporters questions, and pleasant with all the well-wishers, but still far from pleased.
After all, New York is still seven wins away from riding the No. 7 train as World Series champions.