Baseball: City enthralled by Yankees

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The Independent Online
If you have friends in New York, do not try to call them tonight. Phones will be off the hook across the city as the World Series returns from Atlanta to the Bronx and the New York Yankees attempt to turn their thrilling come-back against the Atlanta Braves into final and magnificent victory.

Almost written off - even by their own fans - after losing the first two games of the best-of-seven series, the Yankees come home with a 3- 2 lead over the Braves. A win tonight will clinch their first series win in 18 years. And New York, you can rely on it, will go wild.

The Yankees completed their comeback with a nail-biting 1-0 win over the Braves in Atlanta on Thursday night in the last game at Fulton County Stadium before it is demolished and becomes a parking lot and the Braves move to the remodelled Olympic Stadium. This followed their equally thrilling 8-6, 10-innings victory on Wednesday, the longest game in World Series history.

It also secured another record for the Yankees - they have won all eight games on the road in their post-season run. Their fans can only pray to every God they know that their beloved Bronx Bombers do not fall apart in their own stadium this evening as they did last Sunday and Monday.

Hero status has meanwhile been reassigned to the Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte who mesmerised the Braves over 81/3 innings on Thursday during which he gave up only five hits. The other star of Thursday was Cecil Fielder whose hit in the fourth innings delivered the winning run to the Yankees.

For residents of New York City, it has been a memorable and exhausting week. To say the World Series has become a city-wide obsession is barely to grasp the extent of the city's fascination with their team's fluctuating fortunes. "The Yankees represent the spirit of New York City," declared an exhilarated mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, after Thursday's win. "They've proven all the doubters wrong."

On Thursday night, there was not a bar in the city that was not crammed with fans watching the game on television. If they were not in the bars, they were on the pavements peering through the windows.

Well after 11pm, when the Braves had the bases loaded and appeared close to coming back at the bottom of the ninth innings, your correspondent was among hundreds in the concourse of Grand Central Station, happily missing trains as the game was shown on two giant screens deployed by a local bank.

This evening, as many of us as possible - this reporter included - will be back in the stadium in the Bronx where it all started so disastrously for the Yankees, nearly a week ago.