Rain delays provide players wide assortment of options

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- As Detroit's leadoff man, Curtis Granderson sets the tone. As a music man, he set the tunes.

Granderson took over the sound system in the Tigers' clubhouse at Busch Stadium on Wednesday while they waited nearly two hours to find out whether they'd play Game 4 of the World Series.

"I played some Latin, some Guns N' Roses," Granderson said. "It was a mix."

Some of the Tigers played cards, others played backgammon before the game was postponed. Many of the hitters watched a lot of tape on St. Louis starter Jeff Suppan.

"I kept hoping somebody would pop in a tape of 'Old School,' but they didn't," Tigers first baseman Sean Casey said. "Believe me, there's only so many sliders, curves, whatever you can sit still for."

On the Cardinals' side, players tossed around a football during the delay. A few players took batting practice at the indoor cage.

Once the game was called, actor Billy Bob Thornton showed up in the Cardinals' clubhouse and visited in manager Tony La Russa's office.

Backup catcher Gary Bennett had his two young sons with him, and they helped put his equipment back in his locker.

Award winners

Derek Jeter got a kick out of winning the Hank Aaron Award as the American League's top hitter, an honor that normally goes to top sluggers.

Ryan Howard, who led the majors with 58 home runs, was picked by fans as the NL's best. The winners were announced at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night.

"I sort of feel out of place," Jeter said. "With Hank Aaron, the first thing that comes to mind is home runs. Ryan Howard, same thing.

"So when people said what award I was going to win, I stuck my chest out and I said, 'You know, the Hank Aaron Award. What do you think?'"

The New York Yankees shortstop hit 14 homers this season. He batted .344, scored 118 runs and had a 25-game hitting streak.

Howard was born in St. Louis and grew up rooting for the Cardinals. The Philadelphia first baseman didn't want that popularized, though.

"Can't say that too loud," he kidded. "We've got Phillie fans watching."

Playing politics

Jeff Suppan was pitching more than baseballs this week. The St. Louis starter was among several celebrities appearing in a minute-long commercial against a Missouri stem cell initiative.

The ad debuted Wednesday, hours before Suppan was scheduled to start Game 4 of the World Series. It was a response to a commercial featuring actor Michael J. Fox urging passage of Amendment 2 next month.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, Kansas City Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney and actors Patricia Heaton and Jim Caviezel appeared with Suppan, the MVP of the NL Championship Series.

Manager Tony La Russa supported the decision of his players to take part in off-the-field activities.

"Our policy is you recognize each person as the professional side and personal side, and you respect both sides of them," La Russa said. "Actually, our organization encourages guys to get involved in something beyond just baseball.

"Whether you agree with the choice or whatever, I just like the fact that guys make a commitment and they get involved," La Russa said.

Former Cardinals football player Jackie Smith has been included in ads supporting the initiative.

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