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NLCS notebook

Cards' Ankiel exits with another wild outing

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Posted: Monday October 16, 2000 7:39 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 24, 2001 11:18 PM

  Rick Ankiel Rick Ankiel added two more wild pitches in Game 5, hiking his postseason total to nine. AP

NEW YORK -- Before Game 5 of the NLCS, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said if he had three wishes, one of them would be to see Rick Ankiel exit the playoffs on a positive note.

"I wish there was a way he could have a good experience. but there's no script to this thing," La Russa said. "If he had to be used, he would not be the first option out of the bullpen."

All the 21-year-old rookie left-hander did was add to his building wild man reputation.

Ankiel threw two more wild pitches -- hiking his total for the postseason to nine in only four innings -- in two-thirds of an inning. One of the wild pitches sailed to the backstop, and he also hit the backstop while warming up.

He threw 17 pitches, eight of them strikes, before departing after walking Edgardo Alfonzo. Ankiel, who led the rotation with a 3.50 ERA, walked 11 in the playoffs.

Somehow, both Ankiel and La Russa felt good about the outing.

"I let a couple get away, but I made some good pitches too," Ankiel said. Asked whether he felt it was a step in the right direction he added, "Definitely."

"I think it was important," La Russa said. "I think he had a positive outing."

Subway allure

Some fans complain that interleague play has taken a bit of the luster off the possibility of a Subway Series.

"Not in the least," said Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who grew up in Brooklyn when the Subway Series was nearly an annual occurrence. "I just think it's warmed it up a little bit. People in New York couldn't be more excited."

The last series between the teams have definitely heated up the rivalry. Roger Clemens hit Mike Piazza in the helmet with a fastball that many Mets felt was intentional.

The Mets then didn't let the Yankees use their weight room at Shea Stadium the next night. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner charged that the Mets were using the beaning to distract attention from the fact that they dropped the first three games of the series with the Yankees.

"It's a very healthy rivalry," Wilpon said. "Nelson (Doubleday, Mets co-owner) and I have always had a positive relationship with George. He's a very passionate guy."

That could be tame compared to a meeting that counts a lot more than one game in the standings. But many fans of both teams have expressed fear of playing the other and the loss of bragging rights that would come with it.

"I'm all for it," said Al Leiter, who grew up in New Jersey rooting for the Mets and made his major league debut with the Yankees. "I've been waiting all my life for it."

Before the first Subway Series since 1956 happens, the Yankees need to win one more game. The Mets beat the Cardinals 7-0 in Game 5 on Monday night to close out the NL Championship Series.

The Yankees, who lead the ALCS 3-2, play Seattle on Tuesday night.

A Subway Series would give the Mets a chance to chink away at the Yankees' mystique. The Yankees have won 25 World Series titles to just two for the Mets.

"We'd have to beat them about 10 years in a row to start catching up," Wilpon said.

Edmonds' back

Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds played with back pain since he skidded in the Busch Stadium outfield and fell on his tailbone in Game 1 of the division series.

He was often treated by a chiropractor between innings.

"It kind of tricked me, and didn't flare up for a couple of days," Edmonds said. "Then all of a sudden, boom.

"It kind of plays with your emotions. You go out there one inning and feel great, and the next inning you feel frustrated that you have to go through with it."

Not that it slowed him down much. Edmonds was 8-for-14 with two homers and seven RBIs in the division series and had a two-run homer in Game 4 of the NLCS.

Father-son day

Mets reliever John Franco loosened up about four hours before game time by throwing batting practice to his 8-year-old son, John.

"He likes to come to the park and catch some flyballs and hit," Franco said. "Hopefully he'll grow up respecting the game."

The younger Franco is a Mets fan, of course, but his favorite player plays on the other side of town.

"His favorite player is Derek Jeter," Franco said. "For him, it's just a great deal of fun to be out here."

Related information
Game 5: Mets deck Cards for World Series berth's Donovan: A Subway Series
Game 5 preview: Mets positioned for pennant
For La Russa, the perfect moment never comes
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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