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Players on collision course

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NEW YORK — Just like many Mets and Yankees fans, Todd Zeile and Chuck Knoblauch kept crossing paths Saturday.

Knoblauch lined the first pitch of the doubleheader into center field at Shea Stadium, only to be thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. But he wound up on second and scored the first run in the Yankees' 4-2 win because Zeile, the Mets' first baseman, was called for obstruction.

Then in the fourth, Zeile was called out for interfering with the Yankees second baseman as he tried to field Jay Payton's grounder.

"Either one changes the game," said Mets manager Bobby Valentine, ejected for the first time this year after arguing the first call.

"It's very ironic that the same two guys could be involved in two obstruction plays in the same game," Zeile said. "It's almost inconceivable."

Knoblauch clearly made a wide turn to avoid Zeile, and Yankees first-base coach Lee Mazzilli immediately yelled to first base umpire Robb Cook, claiming Knoblauch was impeded.

"If he makes the runner alter his course, that's obstruction," said crew chief Dana DeMuth, who ejected Valentine. "There doesn't have to be intent."

Zeile couldn't believe Cook, a vacation relief umpire, made the call.

"Mazzilli, the old codger that he is, helped talk him into it," Zeile claimed.

"I just hit the ball, and he was standing in my path," said Knoblauch.

Mazzilli said Zeile should have known better. But remember, this is Zeile's first season at first base.

"When you've been around and you're a veteran player, you know what path the runner is going to take," Mazzilli said.

The fourth-inning meeting came after Zeile reached on a two-out single. Payton's ball and Zeile got to Knoblauch at around the same time.