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Mariners first to clinch

Now that the Seattle Mariners have clinched the American League West title, Japanese fans in Tokyo are hoping their heroes Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki can help the team earn a trip to the World Series.

"Now comes the hard part," said fitness company employee Yuji Shimabukuro, as he watched the Mariners win the pennant Thursday afternoon at a restaurant in Tokyo's Roppongi district.

"The Yankees have all that playoff experience and are always tough to beat in the postseason, but if any team can do it, the Mariners are the team," Shimabukuro said.

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Pro sports return to N.Y.C.

In the first professional game of any kind in New York City since the terrorist attacks, hockey fans at Madison Square Garden observed perhaps their quietest moment of silence ever before a New York Rangers-New Jersey Devils game.

"That was respect for those lost and regard for everyone going through a tough time right now," Rangers Eric Lindros said.

"You could really feel the emotion there during the moment of silence," said rookie Dan Blackburn, who had visited a firehouse along with several other Rangers players earlier in the day.

A fan later bellowed, "Love it or leave it!" before "God Bless America" and "The Star Spangled Banner" were sung, each followed by a brief but raucous chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!"

With the stands far from full (the announced crowd was 14,646, but it appeared to be more like 7,000) and the city a long way from forgetting the events of the past eight days, a small sense of normalcy nonetheless returned to the city's sporting life.

"Hopefully we gave a little relief to those who came tonight, some sunshine in an otherwise gloomy situation," says Lindros.

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