Work in Sports
On the Diamond
Had enough hype? Well, it's finally time to get at it
Updated: Sunday October 22, 2000 12:05 PM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
NEW YORK -- There can be no more hype. There can be no more build-up. There can be no more talk.
After one of the most anticipated, most-talked about, most downright loud World Series run-ups in decades, the 2000 World Series finally gets under way tonight at historic Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. It is the Yankees and Mets -- as if you didn't know -- and it is, more than anything, about damn time.
"It seems like it's time to play," Mets manager Bobby Valentine agreed, somewhere around two hours before the first pitch was scheduled. "I'm all for hearing 'Play Ball!'"
The American League winners start things this season, which means Games 1 and 2, and Games 6 and 7 if necessary, will be played in the House That Ruth Built. It is, of course, old hat for the old house. The Yankees own 25 World Series titles, including three of the past four and the last two. In fact, they've won 12 straight World Series games (the last four in '96, plus all four in '98 and '99).
The Mets, who get Games 3, 4 and 5 in Shea Stadium (some eight miles from here), have not been to a World Series since 1986, when they beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games.
Fans filed off the No. 4 train at the 161st Street station, just past the outfield wall at Yankee Stadium, hours before gametime. They lined the barricades outside the players' entrance, cheering on the players. And, after the gates opened, they weasled their way as close to the field as they could get, especially down the right-field foul line and over the right field wall, at 314 feet the shortest part of his park.
And mark this down: At 7 p.m., the organist at Yankee Stadium struck up "New York, New York," the first official rendition of that song in this Series.
It won't be the last.
Meanwhile, the Yankees and Mets went through as normal a pre-game routine as possible -- considering the hundreds and hundreds of media members crowding around the batting cage, spilling into the dugout and watching everything with a pulse.
The key for the Mets and Yankees was to get as loose as possible before the first pitch of the Subway Series.
"Everything leading up to the first game," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, a veteran at this now, "leads to a lot of anxiety."
Still, after three full days of dealing with one of the wildest pre-Series warm-ups ever -- this is the first time since 1956 that the World Series has featured two teams from New York, and there's a lot more media and a lot more people in the nation's biggest city than there were 44 years ago -- there are some advantages for the Yankees and Mets to coming to the ballpark.
"Being here, being around the players, you're in an environment that helps you relax," said Torre, who has had to deal with good intentioned wishes from family and friends at home and on the street. "I feel a lot better being here."
And not all the players seemed too worked up. Roger Clemens, the starter for the Yankees tomorrow in Game 2, spent some time Saturday playing football in Central Park. Mets reliever John Franco reportedly was to spend the morning watching his son play football.
That may be the last quiet time the players get. The World Series is here. And this is -- as if you didn't know -- New York, New York.