Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
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I'm Easy
2005-04-14 14:51
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Was Bernie Williams was of the most unlikely clean up hitters in Yankee history? He sure didn't seem born for the part even though he was the Bomber's best hitter from 1996-01. Now, that he's well past his prime, is he one of the most over-qualified ninth-place hitters in team history? Maybe. But he handled batting last in stride on Wednesday night, going 3-4. He didn't give his manager any trouble about the "demotion" either. According to the Times:

"Bernie is unlike any player I have ever met," Torre said after the Yankees' 5-2 victory Wednesday night. "He never changes. I've been here 10 years now and he's the same person, personality-wise and respect-wise. It's refreshing. You hurt for him because you know he's struggling and he has his pride and is taking a beating. But he keeps coming back and that's what makes him special."

..."I'm not making this up - it doesn't really matter to me," Williams said before the game. "You have to wait a little longer. But it's kind of an advantage, because you see the guy pitch to everyone. Other than that, it doesn't matter."

Some guys would take the high road just to save face. But I take Bernie at his word. Regardless of how this year pans out for him, Torre's quote reminded me why Bernie is one of my all-time favorites.

Comments
2005-04-14 15:21:21
1.   Don Fiedler
I was just explaining to my girlfriend last night about how we'll talk about Mo forty years from now, for both his pitching greatness and, especially, his remarkable character. Doffing the cap to the sarcastic cheers at Fenway was beyond classy...it was a humility and humor at the same time.

Bernie deserves just as much credit. He's the perfect counterpoint to the prima donna athlete, cool perspective in turbulent NY.

2005-04-14 15:35:54
2.   Alex Belth
Bernie is a "true" Yankee in the mold of Roy White. I think Bernie was more talented (and productive) than White, but they both explempify the cool professionalism that is associated with being a "true" Bronx Bomber. Of course, Bernie's flakiness makes him unique.

But you are right. Rivera and Jeter will always be remembered, but Bernie is right there with them.

2005-04-14 16:40:02
3.   Patrick
We'll remember all 3. All 3 special, all 3 rare, all 3 great.
2005-04-14 17:00:21
4.   Eric Enders
If Bernie would only run out ground balls, he'd be perfect.

Nah, just kidding, I like Bernie. To us non-Yankee fans he's one of the few Yanks who are palatable. Here's hoping he makes the Hall of Fame.

2005-04-14 17:06:38
5.   Jen
What makes Bernie special to me is that he's the link between the Mel Hall Era and the successful teams of recent years. Seeing him there everyday reminds me that the Yankees won't always enjoy the success we've been accustomed to as of late and I should appreciate this while it lasts. He's like the inverse of Willie Randolph who was the link between the late 70s teams and the suckiness of the 80s.
2005-04-14 17:08:18
6.   Jen
And Alex, I would personally add Posada to that list of 3, cause I have a soft spot for catchers.
2005-04-14 17:50:37
7.   Alex Belth
Well, Posada is memorable, of course, as was Paul O'Neil, Pettitte and others. I don't know that he's been as great as the other three, but he's up there. Actually, you could probably make a good case for him.

Eric, the funny thing is that Bernie often runs hard to first, I'd venture to say about 90% of the time. But he does have lapses. I have noticed how much less he gets booed in Boston than Jeter and company. Bernie is a hard guy to hate.

2005-04-14 17:58:32
8.   Patrick
Yeah, Posada, too.
2005-04-15 05:22:58
9.   rbj
I'd go straight up the middle (not in any particular order): Jorge, Petitte, Jeter, Bernie, Mo. And I'd throw in Paulie too, even though he didn't come up through the farm system he was traded straight up for one such prospect.

And is it just me, or is anyone else sick of the 19 games vs. the Red Sox, what with all the attendant hype surrounding each game.

2005-04-15 06:24:00
10.   rsmith51
I also disagree about Bernie not running hard to first. He almost always does on ground balls(95%+, I would say). On pop-ups is another story. He doesn't always run those out.

I don't think Bernie gets enough credit for the 96-01 teams(kind of like Pippen on the 6-time champ Bulls). Without Bernie, the Yanks still may be looking for their first post-1978 championship.

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