PHILADELPHIA -- Thanks to the magic of the videocassette recorder, Philadelphia Phillies closer Mitch Williams has seen the kind of havoc his particular brand of wildness can wreak on the mental health of his team and fans.
And it just doesn't matter.
"It doesn't seem to bother me as much as it does other people," saidWilliams. "I think I've worn out their [his teammates'] patience, but I've always lived by the bottom line. If we walk off the field with a win, I've done my job."
The Phillies got a 4-3 win in 10 innings over the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, but Williams blew a save chance with a leadoff walk that came around to score to tie the game and cost starter Curt Schilling a win.
Williams, who is the original "Wild Thing," notched a team-record 43 saves this year, but few of them came easily.
"It doesn't matter if I walk the bases loaded. If we get the win, that's what matters. If they [the fans] boo me, it doesn't matter. I have a job to do for my teammates, my manager and the owner. If they boo me, it might bother me," said Williams.
Williams, who was previously with the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs, is strictly a fastball pitcher, though he said at least half his pitches Wednesday night were sliders because of his control problems.
He said other managers tried to encourage him to develop a curveball, but those experiments just didn't work.
"In my last year in Chicago, they wanted to change my whole style of pitching. They wanted me to throw curveballs and changeups," said Williams, 28. "That just doesn't seem to suit my mentality. I know I can't go out there and throw fastballs the next 10 years, but I don't plan on playing for 10 more years, so I'm going to do it until it's ineffective."
Certainly, playing behind a guy like Williams who is effectively wild can be a challenge, but it has its positive moments, too.
"It's just Mitch. What can you do? I've got callouses built around my heart," said first baseman John Kruk. "We were blessed with a pretty darn good team, so God had to give us Mitch. At least when he comes in, I know I'll have someone to talk to. Usually the first guy. I just hope the guy who leads off is a nice guy, since I'll be talking to him soon."
The heat is on
Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine, who will start tomorrow's third game, is tired of hearing his team described as a dynasty.
"We've had a lot of accolades bestowed upon us and I don't think any of us feel comfortable with them until we win the World Series," said Glavine. "We've heard all that talk about us being the Buffalo Bills of baseball. In order for us to feel good about ourselves as we want to, we need to win a world championship."
Glavine is expected to be among the top candidates for NL Cy Young Award honors this year, but he threw his support yesterday behind his teammate, Greg Maddux.
"I can't remember anyone being as consistent as he has been this year," said Glavine. "When you look up his numbers this year, he's always working into the seventh, eighth or ninth innings. For him, a bad outing is three runs in eight innings."
Kruk, who laughed it up with talk show host David Letterman a few weeks ago, has more than a few thoughts to share on a few subjects.
On third-base coach Larry Bowa, who managed Kruk in San Diego and is a rumored candidate for the Cubs opening: "If it wasn't for you, Bowa, I wouldn't make the money I'm making. I'll give it back to you, if you want."
On Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who like Kruk is from West Virginia: "Leo lives 10 or 15 minutes from me, depending on how much snow there is. Leo's shorter than me, but just as wide. We look a little bit alike. I think it's heredity. Everybody looks the same there."
On Michael Jordan's retirement: "It figures the first time I get into postseason in eight years, we've got to take a back seat to the greatest athlete in the world. I don't think they'll mistake me for the greatest athlete in the world. I'm a distance runner. I'm not a sprinter."
Atlanta first baseman Sid Bream, who entered last night's game in the eighth inning, became the first player to appear in four consecutive NLCS. Bream was a member of the 1990 Pittsburgh Pirates and has been with the Braves for their playoff appearances in 1991-92-93.
Atlanta third baseman Terry Pendleton tied a record last night, playing in his 28th NLCS game. He shares that mark with Pete Rose, but Pendleton has played in 27 consecutive errorless games at third, an NLCS record.
NL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES vs. ATLANTA BRAVES
Teams tied, 1-1
Gm. ... ... ... ... ... ... Result
1. ... ... ... ... .. .. .. Phillies 4, Braves 3 (10 inn.)
2. ... ... ... ... .. .. .. Braves 14, Phillies 3
Gm. ... ... ... Date ... ... ... Site ... ... Time
3. .. .. .. ... Tomorrow ... ... Atl. ... ... 3
4. ... .. .. .. Sunday .. .. ... Atl. ... ... 8:29
5. ... .. .. .. Monday ... .. .. Atl. ... ... 3:07
6.* ... ... ... Wednesday ... .. Phil. .. ... 3:07 or 8:12
7.* ... ... ... Thursday ... ... Phil. .. ... 8:12
* - If necessary
TV: All games on chs. 11, 9