ATLANTA -- If it's the World Series, Scott Brosius must be in a groove.
Sure beats the rut he was in during the season.
The New York Yankees' third baseman was named Most Valuable Player of last year's Fall Classic after batting .471 with two homers and six RBIs. The image of Brosius, shouting with his fist raised as he rounded first base, is one of the clearest of the '98 Series.
He held the broom that swept the San Diego Padres, and he reached for it again on Saturday. Brosius collected three hits in Game 1, poking singles to left, center and right in New York's 4-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Braves manager Bobby Cox, in a gruff mood as he sat in the interview room, didn't seem overly impressed. "He got three ground balls through our infield," Cox said. "They weren't really hit."
True enough, but they counted. And they meant a lot to Yankees manager Joe Torre, who was taking more into consideration than just placement. He was looking at the person.
Torre knows what a difficult year it's been for Brosius, who endured rough times at the plate and tragedy at home. Brosius batted .247, a steep drop from the .300 average he posted last season, and, with 71 RBIs, drove in 27 fewer runs. But of greater concern was the health of his father, who died toward the end of the regular season after a long bout with colon cancer.
"Even when his dad was failing, he was trying to be the same guy all the time at the ballpark, not trying to overload anybody else with his problems," Torre said. "We knew how he was feeling even though he was trying to joke and be lighthearted all the time. You know, he's a special kid, and when he got through the sorrow, it was sort of a relief for him because his dad was suffering a great deal.
"I was just happy to see him have the night he had [Saturday]. He didn't hit for average like he did last year, but I think there were a lot of reasons for that. Scott had a tough year and I think he's just starting to relax a little bit."
Brosius didn't wait until the World Series to get cranking, homering twice in the American League Championship Series.
Brosius, who had two hits and an RBI last night, tries to keep it in perspective.
"You know, I really believe that each year, each game, is a clean slate. And I don't think there's such a thing as a carry-over in baseball. But at least from a team perspective and on the personal side, it's nice to start any series off on a good note," he said.
"It's always nice to get those first couple hits out of the way, maybe feel like they will come a little easier for the rest of the series."
Brosius still hasn't found a special place for his MVP trophy. Asked where it's displayed, he appears embarrassed to say it's sitting on a shelf in a downstairs room with a pool table.
"It's there so it doesn't get torn up on the floor," he said. "At some point, I'll have somewhere for it. Until then, it's kind of hanging out at home."
Brosius wasn't sure he'd enjoy doing that after being traded from Oakland to New York after the 1997 season, when he became expendable after hitting .203. A native of Hillsboro, Ore., he had reservations about the Big Apple taking a bite out of him.
"When the trade happened, I thought, 'Oh boy, I get to spend six months in New York,' " he said. "It's not a very comfortable place as a visiting player. But everything you hate about New York as a visitor, you love as a home player. And we stay outside the city up north, and that's as much Oregon as anyplace I've played."
He appears more at ease on the field, as well, as he comes to grips with his father's passing.
"There have been times when, obviously, my mind's been in two places at one time," Brosius said. "But we're also at a time now where I know that this is what we play for.
"This is kind of the apex of the year, and in another week, win or lose, I'm going home, so I'll have the opportunity to deal with the things that I need to and take care of the things I need to. It's a little bit easier to put those other things on hold, knowing that some time soon I'll be back to take care of them."
Time/ Starter Line W-L ERA
Atlanta Glavine (L) 8: 20 14-11 4.12
at New York Pettitte (L) -140 14- 11 4.70
Yankees first: Knoblauch singled to center. Jeter singled to left, Knoblauch to second. O'Neill singled to center, Knoblauch scored, Jeter to second. Williams grounded into a double play to shortstop, Jeter to third, O'Neill out. Martinez singled to center, Jeter scored. Ledee walked on a full count, Martinez to second. Brosius singled to center, Martinez scored, Ledee to second. Girardi struck out. 3 runs, 5 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Yankees 3, Braves 0.
Yankees third: Williams singled to center. Martinez singled to left, Williams to second. Ledee doubled to center, Williams scored, Martinez to third. Mulholland pitching. Brosius struck out. Girardi grounded out to shortstop Guillen. Cone safe on Guillen's error, Martinez scored, Ledee to third. Knoblauch struck out. 2 runs, 3 hits, 1 error, 2 left on. Yankees 5, Braves 0.
Yankees fourth: Jeter doubled to center. O'Neill flied to center fielder A.Jones, Jeter to third. Williams intentionally walked. Martinez grounded to shortstop Guillen to second baseman Lockhart, Jeter scored, Williams out. Ledee struck out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 left on. Yankees 6, Braves 0.
Yankees fifth: Brosius doubled to right. Girardi sacrificed, Brosius to third. Cone popped to shortstop Guillen. Knoblauch singled to left, Brosius scored. Jeter grounded to second baseman Lockhart to shortstop Guillen, Knoblauch out. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Yankees 7, Braves 0.
Braves ninth: C.Jones singled to center. Jordan grounded out to third baseman Brosius, C.Jones to second. Klesko flied to right fielder O'Neill. Lockhart walked on a full count. Myers singled to center, C.Jones scored, Lockhart to second. Boone pinch-hitting for McGlinchy. Nelson pitching. Boone doubled to left, Lockhart scored, Myers to third. Nixon grounded to shortstop Jeter. 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Yankees 7, Braves 2.
Pub Date: 10/25/99