One of my favorite people that I ever worked with in the film business is a kid named Shawn Nuzzo. I hired Nuzzo as a runner on "The Blair Witch Project II" (don't laugh, that job paid for my turntables), and trained him as an apprentice film editor; the following year, we worked on the equally memorable cinematic gem, "Swimfan," turned out to be my final gig before I chose to leave the business. How can I describe Nuzzo? He doesn't look like Fred Flinstone exactly, but he looks like he grew up in Bedrock (Long Island actually). Besides being a singer in a punk rock band, Nuzzo, now in his mid-20s, is a Yankee fan. He came of age during the dark days of the late '80s, and early '90s---Oscar Azocar (who appears in this week's edition of "The Pinstriped Bible") was one of his favorites.
Anyhow, Nuzzo was great to have around the cutting room, because I had someone to gasbag about the Yankees with. Working late, as we often did, was less painful, when we were able to listen to the Yankee game on the radio. One of the best parts of following the Yanks with Shawn was how often we disagreed about the team we both loved: he loved Sterling and Kay, I did not; I loved Nick Johnson; he did not.
I bought the hype about Johnson before I ever saw him play, and when I did see him, I fell in love with the kid. I just liked his looks. I understood why Torre liked him too. It wasn't just a Pizzan thing (although I'm sure that didn't hurt); like Torre when he was coming up, Johnson looked older than he was because of his doughy features. He could have played the heavy in an old gangster movie. Nickie looked as if he would right at home having played in the 'teens or the 1920s. Nuzzo, on the other hand, disliked Johnson because of the way he looked. No questions asked. He just didn't like his looks. The two of us would go back and forth about him to no avail. I foolishly thought I could change Nuzzo's mind about Johnson: never happened.
I bring this up because just a few days ago I was thinking to myself how nice it's been to see Johnson finally start to develop into the player he was predicted to be. Maybe I should call Nuzzo, and see what he has to say now, I thought. Of course, I thought too soon. When I heard that Johnson will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a hand injury last night before the game, all I could think of was Nuzzo. Nuzzo, shaking his head, rolling his eyes, saying, "I told you so."
According to The New York TImes:
It was almost as if things had gone too well for Nick Johnson. His wrist and thumb injuries from spring training had disappeared, and he was having a fabulous season. Then he fouled a ball back on Wednesday, and everything changed.
Johnson felt a tingling sensation in his right hand, the same hand that bothered him so much in 2000 that he missed the entire season.
...Johnson was somber but managed a joke. "Just got to keep trying to strengthen it," he said. "That's the only thing I can do. Maybe drink some milk."
Somewhere, Shawn Nuzzo is not smiling.
Johnson isn't the Yankees only casualty. It looks as if reliever Steve Karsay is done for the season. This isn't entirely surprising, and it may not take the bullpen blowing a couple of games to Boston this coming week for Brian Cashman to swing a deal. According to Lee Sinins:
Yankees P Steve Karsay had another setback while rehabbing his shoulder injury, will see Dr. James Andrews today and there is concern that he could be out for the season.
After 2.35 ERA/21 RSAA and 3.26 ERA/11 RSAA seasons, Karsay's been on the DL for the whole season. He has a 3.88 career ERA, compared to his league average of 4.62, and 47 RSAA in 321 games.
It is only a slight exaggeration to say every single pitcher in baseball is now being mentioned as potential trade bait to go into the Yankees bullpen.
The news for the Mets was even more dire, as Mike Piazza strained his groin attempting to avoid an inside pitch by Jason Schmidt last night in San Francisco. PIazza had just started to hit too. Although there is no official news yet, Piazza had to be carried off the field and the news is not good:
"He's in a great deal of pain," said Jay Horwitz, the Mets' media relations director. "It's a substantial injury."