By KIRBY ARNOLD and LARRY HENRY
SEATTLE — With players from the U.S., Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Japan, the Mariners are as diverse a team as you’ll find in pro sports.
What’s more, they’re a decidedly home-state club as well.
Starting pitcher Aaron Sele grew up in Poulsbo, reliever Rob Ramsay is from Vancouver, John Olerud from Bellevue and injured catcher Tom Lampkin from Seattle.
It’s no fluke that the Northwest is so well represented on the Mariners and throughout baseball, Sele said.
"I’ve always felt like we’ve had a lot of talent come out of here," Sele said. "I think we’ve just gotten some recognition more recently. You have a lot of guys out of the Vancouver area and the Seattle area who are in the big leagues and working their way up. I think youth baseball in the Northwest is pretty strong."
Mariners manager Lou Piniella will use the same lineup that produced the 2-0 victory in Game 1. The batting order will be Rickey Henderson (left field), Mike Cameron (center), Alex Rodriguez (shortstop), Edgar Martinez (designated hitter), John Olerud (first base), Jay Buhner (right field), Joe Oliver (catcher), David Bell (third base) and Mark McLemore (second base).
Here is Sele’s comparison of Safeco Field vs. the Kingdome:
"Safeco is a little more conducive to some decent pitching. At the Kingdome, you had AstroTurf and fences you could drag-bunt home runs over."
Andy Pettitte, who will start today’s game for the Yankees, welcomed the Mariners’ move to Safeco Field last year. "We had such nightmares of the Kingdome," he said, when trying to explain the Yankees’ 3-3 record at Safeco this year. "Whenever we went in there, it was like a vacation to come to this ballpark and play.
"It is open, it is beautiful and that dome, I think a lot of guys on our team had so many bad memories from 1995, especially, and just dreaded going to the Kingdome."
He was referring, of course, to the Mariners coming back from a 0-2 deficit and winning three straight over the Yankees in the Kingdome to claim the division series.
Sele, once a teammate of the Yankees’ Roger Clemens in Texas, says he learned volumes from The Rocket.
"I wish I would have picked up some of his velocity, but I never found out how to do that," Sele said. "Roger was a great teammate. He’s a great leader. He showed me how things are done, how you put your work first and your team first.
Ex-Mariner Tino Martinez leads the Yankees in hitting with a .500 average after two games of the ALCS and his manager thinks he knows the reason why. "He’s used the whole field," Joe Torre said.
Torre sensed that Martinez was trying to hit home runs this season and when he realized they weren’t going to come, "he became a much better hitter."
Martinez averaged 31 home runs and 119 RBI during the last five seasons, but his numbers tumbled to 16 and 91 this season. "That’s pretty damned good," Torre said.
Another former Mariner, Luis Sojo, is also having a good series, batting .375. "He’s a wild-card," Torre said. "He’s sort of like Yogi Berra, you don’t know where to throw the ball to him, off the ground, over his head. He is very loose. He uses both lines."
Was the game better when he played, Torre was asked. "Better?" he said. "I think the athletes are bigger and stronger and in better shape now than we were when we played back 20, 30 years ago, because we are allowed to use weight training now that we were not allowed to use then," he said. "I think the game is a little bit different, but to say that it was better then, I can’t say that."