Florida Marlins manager Jim Leyland bit his tongue the last two days. He couldn't hold out anymore Thursday.
Asked if the slow pace of play is behind the worst television ratings in World Series history, Leyland launched into a rambling soliloquy prior to Game Five of the World Series at Jacobs Field.
His remarks were undoubtedly prompted in part by NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer's now-infamous "We want four and out" comment last week that referred to the network's wish to show its highly-rated Thursday lineup instead of baseball because two lesser-known teams made the Series.
"I'm sick and tired of hearing about New York and Atlanta and Baltimore," Leyland said. "(Cleveland manager) Mike Hargrove said it best: They had the same chance that we did and we won it. We are the teams that are supposed to be here and it makes me puke when I continue to hear people talking about the Marlins and the Indians.
". . . I'm sick of hearing the weak comments about the pitchers and everybody crying because Atlanta, Baltimore and New York aren't here. We beat them and the Indians beat everybody they had to beat. To be honest with you, the subject is over and it's making me puke."
Leyland said one of the key factors in the TV problem is the late starting times of games. All three in Cleveland have began at 8:20 p.m. Game Three ended at 12:36 a.m., Game Four lasted until 11:37 p.m. and Thursday night's game ended at 11:59.
"Everybody else is throwing stones at everything and in my opinion we contradict ourselves a lot in baseball," Leyland said. "We're trying to get the youth back involved. For God's sake, most youth are sleeping by 9 o'clock, and more important, so is the guy that works from 7 o'clock (in the morning) to 4 or 5 in the afternoon. The blue-collar guy is tired. By the sixth inning, he's in La-La land somewhere.
"So I don't want to hear about everything that's not perfect about us being in the Series. We've got a hell of a lot more problems in baseball. The ratings of this World Series is not very high on the list."
Pressed on baseball's problems, Leyland didn't want to elaborate.
"I'm a field manager and I usually keep my mouth shut," Leyland said. "But it hurts me to think that the Cleveland Indians and Florida Marlins worked as hard as we did to represent baseball and it seems like we're getting cheap shots consistently, almost having to apologize for being here. I've been in baseball 33 years, riding the buses (in the minor leagues) for 18 years and I'm not apologizing to anybody for being here."
Hargrove was only slightly more diplomatic when asked about Leyland's comments.
"If people have a problem with us being here, that's their problem," Hargrove said. "I don't remember anybody last year when we won 99 games (and were eliminated in the Division Series) saying the best team in baseball wasn't in the World Series last year."
Marlins pitcher Livan Hernandez said his family in Cuba could hear the game on radio and saw it even though the television signal was being blocked by the Cuban government. How was that possible?
"It's a secret," said a grinning Hernandez.
Cleveland's Sandy Alomar now has 19 postseason RBIs, eclipsing the record of 16 set last year by Atlanta's Fred McGriff. Alomar's third-inning home run gave him five this postseason, breaking the mark of four by a catcher set by Oakland's Gene Tenace in 1972. Alomar also became the first player ever to homer in his home park in the Series and All-Star Game in the same year.
Alomar is just the sixth player to have 10 RBIs in a World Series, and he's two shy of the record of 12 set by New York's Bobby Richardson in 1960.
"This is great. I'd rather be doing this than be at home playing golf," Alomar said. "I certainly don't come to the ballpark to set records. I come to win. I'll trade all the records for the World Series ring."
Herb Score's last home game in the broadcast booth sounded like any other.
Score, retiring after 34 years of broadcasting Cleveland Indians baseball, wants it no other way.
"I'll just fade away, and that's the way it should be," said Score, the 1955 AL Rookie of the Year as a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher for the Indians.
Score made his last call from the booth in Cleveland without fanfare. When Gary Sheffield caught Sandy Alomar's fly ball to end Florida's 8-7 victory Thursday night, Score did what he's always done. He told people what happened.
"There's a high fly ball to right field," Score said, his deep New York accent soaring like the ball. "Sheffield is under it, and the Florida Marlins have won it. The Florida Marlins have won Game Five of the World Series, 8-7."
Score will do his final radio broadcast as the Indians' play-by-play announcer either Saturday or Sunday in Miami. It will probably sound the same.
"It's the game itself that counts, not Herb Score," he said. "That's really the way I feel about it."
Both teams chartered out of Cleveland immediately after the game to return to Miami. Neither will work out today at Pro Player Stadium. . . . This is the first time Series opponents have alternated wins for the first five games since 1962 when the Yankees did it for seven in a series won by New York over San Francisco. . . . Visiting teams have won eight of 11 Series games the last two years. . . . If this series goes seven, the Marlins will pitch Game Three starter Al Leiter. Cleveland is toying with the idea of using rookie Jaret Wright on three days rest rather than coming back with Charles Nagy. "Officially right now, it's Charles Nagy in Game Seven if we go that far," Hargrove said. "There's a lot of things that we're going to look at going into that. How Jaret Wright can bounce back factors into it." Hargrove has been frustrated with Nagy's reluctance to pitch aggressively, saying he's talked with him "thousands of times" about it. . . . The game-time temperature Thursday was a relatively balmy 46 degrees. The winds, however, were light, so chill factors barely dipped below freezing.