For Yankees and Mets, Subway Series is all about logistics

Posted: Friday, October 20, 2000

NEW YORK -- George Steinbrenner was casually strolling through the locker room at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon when he was stopped by a clubhouse boy.

''Mr. Steinbrenner! Mr. Steinbrenner!'' he called out to the New York Yankees owner. ''Do we get to go to Shea Stadium?''

The Boss was stumped.

''I don't know,'' he said. ''You'll have to ask someone else.''

That's how it's been much of this week when it comes to the Subway Series and logistics.

Though the two ballparks are only 14 minutes apart -- with the Grand Central Parkway, the Major Deegan Expressway and the Triboro Bridge all closed to normal traffic, that is -- this World Series is presenting all kinds of problems.

As in, if Mets star Mike Piazza wants to drive directly to Yankee Stadium, will the Yankees let him park in their lot?

There were workouts at both places as the teams prepared for Game 1 Saturday night at the Bronx.

The Mets said Al Leiter will pitch the opener instead of Mike Hampton, who started Game 1 in the NL playoff series against San Francisco and St. Louis.

''Al has followed Mike all year and Mike pitched the last game, so it is Al's turn to pitch,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine.

For the Yankees, Jose Canseco was added to the World Series roster after being left off in the AL championship series. Manager Joe Torre wanted an extra bat, especially for the middle games at Shea.

''It was tough, it was very tough,'' Canseco said. ''I've always been used to playing. I was working hard to stay ready.''

In the meantime, both teams tried to settle their off-the-field plans.

The Mets, for example, will let the Yankees use the weight room at Shea Stadium. The facility is located inside the Mets' clubhouse.

This summer, after Roger Clemens beaned Piazza, the Mets blocked the Yankees from using the weight room during interleague play.

''It was absolutely the right thing to do,'' Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. ''I probably should've called Brian (Yankees GM Cashman) before I did it, rather than after. Knowing the emotions of our players, I thought there was a potential for a problem.

''Tensions have cooled down to the point where nothing will happen,'' he said.

Torre also hopes calmer heads will prevail.

''I think it's a disservice to people what's going on,'' he said. ''Whenever you pick up a newspaper, whatever network you watch, that's all you see is Mike getting hit in the head.''

''I would like to believe this World Series is more about competition and fun than about getting even and inciting riots,'' he said.

The Mets plan to meet at Shea on Saturday, possibly for some batting practice, and then bus over to Yankee Stadium to dress. There will an early bus around 2 p.m. EDT, a later one with most of the players and then one at 6:45 p.m. for wives and families.

There was a chance, however, that Piazza would head straight from his New Jersey home to Yankee Stadium. During interleague play, the Yankees let him park in their lot -- this time, he was figuring on taking a taxi.

The Yankees also planned on taking a bus or two to Shea. That was fine with Game 1 starter Andy Pettitte.

''What I think most about it is that we don't have to get on another airplane,'' he said. ''Man, we have been doing so much traveling.''

By playing the Yankees rather than Seattle, the Mets probably saved up to $500,000 in travel costs. Of course, players on both sides have had other things to deal with this week.

''I've been getting a lot of calls for tickets, a lot,'' said Mets reliever John Franco, a New York native.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter went to a mall on Wednesday with first baseman Tino Martinez. They had a funny encounter with a fan who asked for an autograph for his brother.

''I signed the ball and he said, 'I think the Mets are going to kill you,''' Jeter said.

Meanwhile, Chuck Knoblauch had a message he wanted to deliver. The second baseman has a home in Manhattan, and occasionally rode the subway to Yankee Stadium this season.

''Let them know it -- I'm not taking the subway,'' he said.



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