Braves go with Sanders, and they'll take any heat
Cox tries to speed pressure on Cone
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves are just full of surprises, and most of them involve outfielder Deion Sanders.
Sanders angered Braves officials a week ago, when he jumped ship to play for the Atlanta Falcons, but he was in the starting lineup for Game 2 of the 89th World Series. Braves manager Bobby Cox put him in left field in place of Ron Gant in hopes of putting more heat on Toronto Blue Jays starter David Cone.
"Deion hit David Cone really well during the spring, and he hit him pretty well during the season," Cox said.
"I know he wasn't playing much lately, but he's been swinging the bat well in batting practice so we thought we should take a chance."
The move also was made to take advantage of Cone's apparent vulnerability to the stolen base. The Oakland Athletics ran wild against him during the playoffs, and the Milwaukee Brewers stole a club-record eight bases in his first regular-season start for the Blue Jays.
Sanders stole 26 bases during the regular season, but it was a combination of past performance and speed that got him into last night's lineup. Gant also can run -- he stole 32 bases during the regular season and is 11-for-11 in postseason play, including one last night in the ninth inning when he entered the game as a pinch rjnner -- but Cox wanted Sanders in the No. 2 spot.
"Gant can run, too," Cox said, "but I plan to bat [Otis] Nixon first and Sanders second, so we can create some stolen-base opportunities early on. Deion hits David well and can run, so we've been thinking about this for a while. We thought we'd try it."
Sanders would not comment. He has been boycotting the media all week because of what he said was the negative publicity he generated when he tried to play NFL football and postseason baseball the same day. He had no chance at a repeat performance yesterday, with the Falcons playing on the West Coast.
"We expect him to be with us the rest of the way," Cox added.
The move paid off for the Braves. Sanders went 1-for-3 and had two walks and two stolen bases. Against Cone, he sent a fly ball to the right-field fence in the first inning, then reached base in his next two trips. He walked and stole a base in the third and had a single and a stolen base to play a significant role in the Braves' two-run fifth inning.
The two hits by Cone equaled the total number of hits produced by pitchers in World Series play since the designated-hitter rule was adopted in 1973. There had been two hits by AL pitchers in 108 previous at-bats since the DH rule was instituted.
The first hit was by Orioles pitcher Tim Stoddard in 1979, and the second was by Oakland A's Mike Moore in 1989.
Left-hander Tom Glavine didn't make any major mechanical changes between his Game 6 disaster in the playoffs and Saturday night's complete-game victory in Game 1, but he did undergo an attitude adjustment. He got a pep talk from pitching coach Leo Mazzone on the importance of changing speeds and staying aggressive.
"We had a heart-to-heart the other day for almost an hour," Mazzone said. "We concentrated on different aspects of his motion and delivery, but mainly we talked about him changing speeds. But the main thrust of our talk was for him to be offensive-minded on what he does on the mound.
"I tried to drum into him that he was a 20-game winner and that he had accomplished so much in the last two years. He showed that [in Game 1]. To me, the key was that after [Joe] Carter hit the home run, he didn't get flustered. He stayed within himself and kept getting stronger as the game went on."
Olson on understudy
The Braves seemed to miss catcher Greg Olson during the playoffs, but Damon Berryhill earned instant respect when he won Game 1 with a three-run homer off Jack Morris. Olson, who broke his leg in September, was one of the first to congratulate him.
"He had a rough NLCS," Olson said, "but I knew sooner or later he was going to come up with a big hit. He just crushed a hanging forkball. I hope that hit helps him relax for the rest of the games of the Series. Maybe he'll be this year's Mark Lemke."
Father and son
When Todd Stottlemyre appeared in Game 1, he and father Mel became the second father-son pitching combination to make appearances in the World Series. The first was Jim Bagby Sr. and Jim Bagby Jr. The elder Bagby played in the 1920 Series for the Cleveland Indians and his son for the Boston Red Sox in 1946.
In each of the last three World Series, the pitcher who won Game 1 went on to be the World Series MVP. They were: Oakland Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart, Cincinati Reds pitcher Jose Rijo and Minnesota Twins pitcher Jack Morris.
That should not be a particularly surprising stat. The winning starter in Game 1 usually gets two more starts and his team usually goes on to win the Series, so he is in perfect position to be MVP if he pitches well.
Flap over flag
ATLANTA -- Major League Baseball publicly apologized to the citizens of Canada during last night's World Series game after the Canadian flag was inadvertently displayed upside down by the U.S. Army color guard during the two national anthems.
It was a minor incident, but baseball officials moved quickly to rectify the situation, releasing a prepared statement to the press during the second inning.
"Major League Baseball apologizes to the people of Canada and to all baseball fans for the unintentional improper display of the Canadian flag during the national anthems prior to the start of tonight's World Series."