Jeter hears it all over Boston
BOSTON -- How do you dry a baseball field soaked by 1½ inches of rain in time for a playoff game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox?
Try a helicopter, kitty litter and puddle pillows.
That's what the Fenway Park grounds crew used Saturday morning to soak up most of the moisture in time for Game 3 of the AL championship series Saturday night.
"We started at 6:30 this morning," after Friday night's game was rained out, said David Mellor, Fenway's director of grounds.
"We used puddle pillows in the outfield that have absorbent material in them to help us soak up standing water."
Then his workers aerated the field, squeegeed standing water and brought in a helicopter for two hours that hovered in the outfield about six to 10 feet off the ground, creating a 190 mph downdraft.
"Everything that was under the tarps is in great shape. In the outfield, we did everything we could to make it safe and playable," Mellor said. "This time of year, things don't dry as quick. It's cool but it was sunny, we had a wind and we had the helicopter, so that helps."
Replacing Nomar: Orlando Cabrera finally got his chance to play for a stable franchise -- going from Montreal to Boston in a trade on July 31. But he didn't have a great start replacing fan favorite Nomar Garciaparra at shortstop.
He homered in his first at-bat with the Red Sox, then went 1-for-20. After that, though, he hit .314 for the rest of the regular season and played better defense than Garciaparra did.
"The first week," Cabrera said, "not because of Nomar but because (I was) playing for a new team and, you know, I become a free agent after the season, I want to give a good first impression. And I was trying to do too much."
Cabrera had been with Montreal since 1997 and sympathized with the Expos' unstable situation. He said hadn't spoken with any former teammates still with Montreal since it was announced that the franchise would move to Washington after the regular season.
"It's a sad situation, they have to leave Montreal," Cabrera said. "There's so much talent over there. They need an owner to spend some money so they can be a competitive team."
The Rain, Fenway Park and other things: Members of the Cowsills singing group, who sprung to prominence in the 1960s, sang the national anthem before Game 3 after it was rained out Friday night.
The Cowsill children were raised in Newport, R.I., by a mother who was a loyal Red Sox fan. But it was a stroke of luck that team executive vice president Charles Steinberg was in a Los Angeles bar in August where Bob Cowsill was playing.
Among the family's hits were "The Rain, The Park and Other Things," "Indian Lake," "We Can Fly" and "Hair."
The Red Sox already had a video in the works that set pictures of long-haired Johnny Damon, corn-rowed Bronson Arroyo and wild-maned Pedro Martinez to the tune of "Hair." Not knowing who the singer was, Steinberg approached Cowsill.
"He became like God to me," Cowsill said about meeting a member of the organization.
When Steinberg heard that the Cowsills would be willing to get together to sing the national anthem at Fenway Park, he booked them for the playoffs.
Friendly Fenway: Derek Jeter is definitely the Yankees player Red Sox fans love to hate the most. Every time he's in Boston, he's greeted the same way all over town.
"You go places, they always have nice things to say. You go out to eat, they offer to pay for your check," Jeter said Saturday with more than a touch of sarcasm.
"You know what, to be honest with you, you get them one-on-one, I think they respect us. Obviously, they don't pull for us, but I think they have respect for how we go about playing the game. If you get a group of them -- that's trouble. It's a little bit different in the daytime, in the morning than it is at night."
Yet the star shortstop respects Boston fans for the passionate way they support their team -- just as Yankees rooters do in New York.
"Baseball is the talk for both sets of fans throughout the year, which I think is good for the game," he said. "They are very intelligent. I think they pay attention to detail. But these fans are up there with any fans."
Most of the anger directed at Jeter probably comes from pure jealousy. The Red Sox are still searching for their first World Series title since 1918, while Jeter won four rings in his first five full seasons in the big leagues.
The last time the 39-year-old Sierra saw action, he hit a tying, three-run homer in the eighth inning to spark New York's clinching victory in Game 4 of the division series against Minnesota.
During his first stint with the Yankees from 1995-96, Sierra didn't get along with manager Joe Torre. But the switch-hitter has been a model citizen in New York's clubhouse the last two years, and he excelled in part-time duty this season with 17 homers and 65 RBIs.
"He's been a terrific acquisition for us," general manager Brian Cashman said. "He's always talking baseball. I could see him being a manager someday. He's always taking players under his wing. He's been productive when he's played, but he's also been a productive person."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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