ATLANTA -- Business as usual for Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, who threw out the first ball last night before Game 1 of the World Series: When he walked onto the field, wearing a black suit, fans behind the first base dugout stood and applauded. Another standing ovation.
After players from both teams were introduced -- and Braves second baseman Mark Lemke ran over to shake his hand -- Ripken walked to the mound, cheers pushing him onto the field.
Ripken acknowledged the crowd, shrugged his shoulder to make some room for movement, and threw a perfect strike to Braves infielder Mike Mordecai. Ripken pumped his fist and smiled.
"I felt it was an absolute honor," he said, "but a little strange, being an active player and being asked. It's been such a great year.
"And besides," he joked, "I really started to think that the last time I was in the World Series was in 1983, and this may be my only chance to get back."
Blauser takes a seat
The Braves added infielder Ed Giovanola to their World Series roster and removed regular shortstop Jeff Blauser, who had been hobbled by a bruised thigh.
"The injury is better," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, "but it's ++ still not great. He can't run. It doesn't affect his hitting, and there's a chance he might've been able to play [in Games 6 and 7].
"But you just can't take the chance. It's going to be cold tonight and tomorrow and ice cold in Cleveland."
Rafael Belliard replaced Blauser in the lineup. Belliard was once the Braves' regular shortstop, but has backed up Blauser in recent seasons. Normally a strong defensive player, Belliard booted the first ball hit to him, leading to an unearned run for Cleveland.
Giovanola has only 14 major-league at-bats, all this year, with one hit and five strikeouts. He hit .412 for Triple-A Richmond in the International League playoffs.
Tale of the (scouting) tape
Major-league pitching is built around advanced scouting these days. But until the final month of the regular season, the Indians did not use any advance scouts. Rather, they videotaped opponents off satellite feeds.
The Indians stopped sending advance scouts on the road in the aftermath of the strike. "We were looking for ways to save money," said Indians general manager John Hart. "We spent $120,000 in advance scouting [in '94]."
The new system, Hart said, worked out fine.
"We now have a tape to show guys," he said, "and a report as well. So instead of just reading, they can see it as well."
Vizquel: another Belanger?
Having Omar Vizquel playing behind him, said ex-Orioles pitcher Dennis Martinez, "reminds me of Mark Belanger. I remember when Earl Weaver would say [to Belanger], 'Don't worry about hitting, Mark, just catch the ball.' Having Omar behind me, I feel good when the ball is hit to him because I know it will be an out." Martinez was with the Orioles when they won the 1983 World Series, but he was still drinking then. This time around, Martinez said, he has a different appreciation for the event. "Being 40, clean and sober, I'm able to enjoy it more." . . . When Kenny Lofton stole second and third in the first inning, he became the first AL player to do so in the World Series since Babe Ruth, who swiped two bases for the Yankees, against the Giants, on Oct. 6, 1921. . . . Fred McGriff homered on the first World Series pitch thrown to him; he is the 24th player to homer in his first World Series at-bat, the last being Toronto's Ed Sprague in 1992.
Hits and misses
On the field: Following Fred McGriff's homer leading off the second inning, Indians right-hander Orel Hershiser jumped ahead of Braves right fielder David Justice no balls and two strikes. His next pitch, a fastball, buzzed right under the chin of Justice, who flipped his bat and glared at Hershiser. But the pitcher walked in a couple of steps to call for a new ball, effectively refusing to participate in the staredown.
In the dugout: Sandy Alomar started at catcher for Cleveland last night, with Hershiser on the mound. But tonight, with Dennis Martinez pitching, Tony Pena will catch. The two have worked together often during the regular season, and Indians manager Mike Hargrove said he wants Martinez as comfortable as possible pitching in the World Series.
In the clubhouse: Braves manager Bobby Cox said it was a tough decision to leave shortstop Jeff Blauser, hampered by a bruised thigh, off the World Series roster. "Jeff has really meant a lot to this team," Cox said. "But he is an unselfish player and understands that it is better for everybody like this."
Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians
Site Day, time/result TV
Game 1 Braves, 3-2
Game 2 Atlanta, Tonight, 7:20, 11, 4
Game 3 Cleveland, Tuesday, 8:20, 11, 4
Game 4 Cleveland, Wednesday, 8:20, 2, 7
Game 5* Cleveland, Thursday, 8:20, 2, 7
Game 6* Atlanta, Oct. 28, 7:20, 11, 4
Game 7* Atlanta, Oct. 29, 7:20, 11, 4
-- If necessary