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The Future is Now
2006-02-02 05:07
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

You know it doesn't much matter if the groundhog sees his shadow this morning or not, according to what I read in the paper this morning, there's only 14 more days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Hey, New York native John Perricone would be happy to know that in his home town, sometimes if feels as if only baseball really does matter. Yesterday, a friend of mine showed me a poll on WFAN's website that had more New Yorkers amped about spring training than the Super Bowl or the Final Four. Granted, hockey has a limited audience, the Knicks are awful, and there aren't any local teams playing in the big game this Sunday, but still...

Yo, I forgot to tell you guys the sight for sore eyes I caught last Saturday up in Inwood. It was another unseasonably warm day and I went to visit my brother. On the way over, I was walking up 207th street and saw an older guy standing in the sun, filling out a lotto card outside of a Bodega. He was earing a Red Sox hat, not an uncommon site uptown. I thought to myself, I wonder if there have ever been as many Sox fans in New York as we see these days? Not only do you have a lot of transplanted New Englanders living here, proudly showing their colors, but the Latin communities uptown--especially the Dominicans--have been rockin' Boston caps ever since Manny signed with the Sox, and they got Pedro. Formerly, you'd see a lot of Indians hats, but even with Pedro gone, Manny is a hometown hero in these parts. Add in Ortiz, and the fact that the Sox are just a good team, you see that Boston has become almost like a third team in New York, next to the Yankees and Mets.

It was so nice out, that we took Ben's little boy Lucas (all of a year-and-a-half) out to Inwood park to tool around. The park is right across the street from their apartment. There are basketball courts, tennis courts and a huge green field with at least five baseball diamonds. Inwood is still a predominately Dominican neighborhood, so it didnt' come as a major surprise that there, in the middle of winter, were kids playing baseball. A warm day? Quick, let's get out and play. Now, this may not seem like a big deal for those of you who live in California or Florida, but in up here in the Northeast, where we're always bemoaning the fact that kids don't care about baseball anymore, it sure is a warming scene.

We passed the first diamond where seven kids--must of been 8th or 9th graders--were playing: two dudes on the left side of the infield, a guy in center, another in left, a pitcher, a batter, and a lone kid on the right side of the infield. They were using muddied old baseballs, were dressed like scrubs in sweats, and playing some kind of game of round robin. As we walked by, the kid at bat swung and missed at a pitch, and then popped one up to second base. The fat kid who was stuck on that side of the field because he was probably the worst of the lot made a futile stab for the ball, which landed with a thud about five feet away from him. Immediately, the rest of the guys started laughing, busting on him, including the batter. A wave of anger shot through me and I remembered being that age, taking pick-up games like this so seriously that I lost any sense of humor I may have had at the time. I wanted to defend the poor kid who wasn't much good and who was laughing at himself along with the other guys. I imagined that I was him, humiliated, directing my anger at the hitter. I wanted to yell, "Yo dog, what the hell are you laughing about, why don't you try hitting something besides a cheap-ass pop-up, you fuggin toy?"

My brother carried his son on his shoulders. We were approaching the playground. But before we got there we passed a second diamond that was occupied by a girl's softball team. The girls were roughly the same age as the boys, but this was an official, or semi-official workout. They too were dressed in scrubs, but they had helmets, and looked altogether more organized than the boys. A middle age man stood on the mound, and a thick, middle aged woman, yelled out instructions from behind third base. It didn't look as if there were enough girls for two teams, but it appeared as if a game was in progress. There was an intensity in the air that was almost palpable. I stopped and watched as the batter swung and missed at a pitch and then fouled the next one into the backstop. The coach was not just lobbing the ball in there. There was a runner on third, and the batter grounded the next pitch to short. The runner came home but the batter didn't move out of the box. The third base coach came out onto the field, pointed around, gave some specific intstructions, clapped her hands and returned to her position. Soon, it became evident that they weren't playing a game, but running through game situations.

I was almost besides myself. I mean, how cool is this, I thought. It's January, and these girls are out here working on game situations, at full tilt. They cut right to the chase: bottom of the ninth, tying run on third, here's what we're going to do. The girls were focused, attentive, fierce.

After cooling our at playground for a while we made our way back. It was getting late and sky was grey. Three of the boys had taken a seat and only four kids were left on the first diamond. I'm sure at least one of them was a competitive red ass like I had been at that age, wanting to win whatever competition they were having, pissed at the fat asses sitting out. One thing was sure, though, a couple of them were going to keep playing until it got too dark to see anymore. Yup, in some parts of the country, even our city, it's true: only baseball matters.

Comments
2006-02-02 06:33:16
1.   Dimelo
As a kid I lived pretty close to Inwood (on Academy street) and anytime I was there it was always for a game or a pickup game with friends. I remember we would have these epic battles (in football) with kids from the block I hung out on and the kids from the Dyckman Projects. A lot of times, when the gamnes ended, it would then turn into a big brawl - always fighting for who was the bigger hombre, even at the tender age of 10 - 15. Neither team was ever a good loser.

In the spring it was the random pickup baseball games or little league in Inwood, those were always great times. A beautiful spring day in NY and a trip to Inwood always felt like another part of the world for me. Still does actually. Growing up in the city and seeing so many trees in my own backyard was a refreshing feeling. As a kid it always made me realize that there was more to the world than the noisy 1 & 9 train, the sounds of merengue blasting at 8 am on a Sunday morning, and the struggle one always identifies with growing up in the inner city. It's funny what an influence a park can have when growing up in the city. It's a nice looking park and lately the parks department has been doing a great job maintaining Inwood. I have a few friends that coach little league there and whenever I'm visiting mom-dukes I'll stop by and pay a visit to the ball fields.

The other park I'd go to for basketball and stickball was the small park on Nagle and 204, but Inwood was always my favorite. A day at Inwood was always a good memory for me.

2006-02-02 07:07:44
2.   Nick from Washington Heights
Well, both Alex's and Dimelo's posts hit close to home. Great stuff. One thing, Dimelo, isn't Academy in Inwood? I grew up on 190th, and my understanding was that the WH turned into Inwood at Dyckman. I thought Academy was north of that. Man, I might be misremembering.
2006-02-02 07:08:50
3.   Felix Heredia
One day when I was very young I let my big brother's friend borrow my baseball glove. It was my first mit - a little blue and red thing. My brother and his buddies all went to Central Park to play baseball. A bunch of older kids mugged them and took all their baseball gear, including my mit.

Those days seem to have left us; departing on a graffiti-covered train . . . .

2006-02-02 07:13:16
4.   Dimelo
Nick, I think that's right. As Washington Heights became more "known"- whether its fame is tied to the Washington Heights riots of 92 or Manny signing with Cleveland (right around the same time) - it kind of became the norm to say you lived in the "Heights" and never qualifying the statement with prefacing Inwood or Washington.
2006-02-02 07:25:38
5.   jalexei
My Mom grew up on Arden Street (back when it was Irish), so I always love hearing stories from Alex's neighborhood -

Another 45 degree day here in Boston, I'm getting very itchy for pitchers and catchers.

2006-02-02 07:26:30
6.   Sliced Bread
Yeah, growing up we never waited for any rodent's shadow or calendar to tell us when it was time to break out the baseball. If it was over 40 degrees and not raining, the footballs, basketballs and street hockey sticks were tossed aside, and the caps and gloves of summer were on.
There was nothing like the first few moments of getting reacquainted with your baseball glove each season: flexing your hand inside this most amazing and perfect piece of sports equipment to see if it still works, inspecting the web with a craftman's attention to detail, tightening the ties, taking a few whiffs of the musty oiled leather, repeatedly punching and grinding the palm of the mitt with your fist, the first loud pop of the ball impacting your glove, and the welcomed sting that followed. The rust was off the throwing arm within a minute, and every snowflake that would follow the first winter catch would be unwelcomed, even if it could shut down the school for a day. The baseball season was on again, as if it had never ended.
2006-02-02 07:30:01
7.   unpopster
Felix, growing up in Brooklyn, I too had my share of run-ins with the random neighborhood bully who've tried to mug me. As a little bit of a fatty, I was the prefect target.

However, I always stood up and learned rather quickly that standing up for oneself in Crooklyn meant one of two things, 1) a beat down, or 2) they'd peacefully walk away, dumbfounded. Surprisingly, #2 happened more often.

To make a long-story short, a couple of times kids had tried to steal my mit (because of this, I kept a second one that I had found), but I always stood up and ended up keeping it. HOWEVER, if I only had a dollar for every time my bat was stolen from the pile up of bats by the side of the diamond. I never came home with my bat in hand...but I still went out and begged my grandpa for another 15 bucks to buy a new one.

2006-02-02 07:42:03
8.   unpopster
nice piece by Klapisch on Giambi in today's espn.com:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=klapisch_bob&id=2315013

2006-02-02 07:46:21
9.   Sliced Bread
Alex, I think we're traveling the same corridors of Times Square. Even though I work smack between two official Yankees headshops, there are days when it seems like the ratio of NYY caps and those of the Boston "B" variety is 1:1.
Many of the "B"-heads appear to be out-of-townas, just visiting to catch a Broadway show, or Johnny Damon's next interview, but most appear to be NYers of every variety.
During the season, it's funny how the AL East standings seem to determine which hat-wearer seeks eye contact with the enemy and which avoids it.
Mets fans always seem to be looking at the ground. (c'mon, just kidding Metsies)
2006-02-02 07:53:57
10.   Nick from Washington Heights
I've been walking around Park Slope and Williamsburg a lot of late. The ratio of Boston to Yanks hats is 2:1. I think there's a definite relationship between Sox hats and gentrification.
2006-02-02 07:55:13
11.   Dimelo
unpopster, good piece on Giambi. I did find this line funny:
"Azra Shafi-Scagliarini, his friend, consultant and spiritual adviser. "

Whatever happened to his personal trainer, wasn't that guy his friend too? This guy sounds like a Muslim cleric that will recommend Jason go on a Jihad against the infidels from Boston. Hopefully Jason will be dropping bombs (of the 3 run variety, "daaa Giambino") on Fenway.

2006-02-02 09:25:53
12.   jkay
I'm wearing my Johnny Damon Yankee jersey to Fenway this season.
2006-02-02 09:53:58
13.   Alex Belth
Yeah, Nick that's what you get for tooling around in the Slope, which has it's strong points, and Williamsburg, which aside from the natives, is clown town as far as I'm concerned.
2006-02-02 10:01:32
14.   Nick from Washington Heights
Williamsburg is a costume party which I don't want to be invited to. I must say that pretty ladies abound, but I truly wish my cousin (a Boston native by the way) didn't live there. It makes me feel inauthentic.

The Slope is exactly exactly the Back Bay of Boston. It's a wonder it hasn't seceded from Brooklyn yet.

2006-02-02 10:43:00
15.   walein
Those fans have been there since the big mid nineties gentrification. It really wasn't until the Sox won the world series that you started seeing all those hats year-round. It used to be during playoff time, or when it was a game or two difference for the division.
However, up in the Heights and in the Inwood area there have always been "hometown" favorites...and anywhere Manny goes the Heights and Inwood are going to wear the hat.
I used to watch Nick from Washington Heights play up at diamond 6 in Inwood (being his brother and all).
I loved those games. He was a pretty dynamic SS by the way--and then the women and the drugs and the money ruined him.
2006-02-02 10:58:49
16.   Sliced Bread
Nick the Dynamic SS from Washington Heights,
If you're looking to make a baseball comeback (and get back on the money, women, etc. train) the independent Canadian-American league is holding an open audition for professional players sometime in May.
You'd have to bring your show out to Sussex County, NJ if interested.

www.sussexskyhawks.com

2006-02-02 11:14:50
17.   Nick from Washington Heights
Sliced, I'm afraid I peaked at age 13. Plus, my brother might be biased in his views. And finally, I'm heading to San Francisco in a month to start anew with my girlfriend. If only Balco wasn't out of business I could be Omar Vizquel's back-up.

You play any professional baseball? I wonder how many posters here are players of some sort.

2006-02-02 11:14:54
18.   brockdc
I now live in a pretty residential area of L.A., and it always strikes me as odd that kids don't swarm the cul-de-sacs of my neighborhood to play baseball like we used to as kids. Back in the day, in Upstate New York, we were out in the street pretty much non-stop from mid-March to October. Here, it's 75 degrees every day, and kids are nowhere to be found. Hate to be cynical, but are the ALL indoors, twiddling away at their MP3s?
2006-02-02 11:23:58
19.   walein
With a heavily-taped whiffleball bat and a tennis ball I was a regular Ted Williams. Sadly, that league, the Taped-Whiffle-Bat-Tennis-Ball-Professional-League" never got off the ground.
2006-02-02 11:36:12
20.   Sliced Bread
Nah, Nick, my diamond days ended in high school. I was a lefty-hitting 2nd baseman who grew up idolizing Willie Randolph.
I do have to get my arm back into batting practice shape because my little sons are coming up fast, and showing great interest in the game. I'll have to get myself a glove, too, which will be a fun purchase.

Good luck finding your heart in San Francisco.

brockdc,
The suburbs sure ain't what they used to be. It's sad and even eerie to see those barren ballfields on a sunny day. The game's outside, kids!

2006-02-02 11:42:31
21.   Nick from Washington Heights
Sliced, I've said this before here, but my favorite player growing up was Willie as well. I liked his demeanor on the field, just a solid player who did a lot of things right. Cool that there's another person out there like me.
2006-02-02 12:03:51
22.   vockins
As a kid that grew up in the cul-de-sac'd suburbs, the reason the kids don't get out anymore is because it's against the community association's bylaws to operate a bicycle except on designated paths, no ball playing, no skateboarding, no construction of skateboard ramps without approval from the architectural review board, baseball fields must used under supervision of a member of the community association, no loitering, maintenance fees must be paid quarterly, no basketball in driveways after 7 pm, no working on a vehicle outside of a garage area, on and on and on...
2006-02-02 12:04:07
23.   Sliced Bread
That's the beautiful thing about wiffle, walein.
At the plate, some guys were Ted Williams, I saw myself more as a hammerin' Hank Aaron.
On the mound, my repertoire was a dangerously-potent mix of Koufax and Gibson.
Never could throw a strike with a baseball though, and as a baseball hitter I was more Felix Millan than Aaron.
2006-02-02 12:44:12
24.   standuptriple
I wanted to chime in on the state of the kiddies today. Back in my day (Pht-ting) when 30-100 was still an amazing feat(mid-to-late 80's) you couldn't keep us out of the cul-de-sac. Being a CA kid there were few days that a game couldn't be found. If you couldn't find more than one other person it was off to the garage door for some strikeout (which inevitably led to more arguing than Sweet Lou on Red Bull). Back in those days Sabathia couldn't get it by me (although I was 3 years older). My hometown hosted the Babe Ruth World Series twice and I thought it would be a thriving baseball town forever. Boy was I wrong. I go there now and all the fields look like crap. Participation is way down. Leagues are folding. Is it the video games/internet? Perhaps. The Homeowners Assn might be partially to blame. Cost of living forcing both parents to work and thus latch-key kids must stay indoors might be a culprit as well. All I know is these kids are missing out on a ton of things they'll have little chance of re-living.
Childhood obesity is rampant people! Get those kids ot of the house. Vitamin D is not your enemy (yet)!
Oh Nick, good luck in SF. I hope you have a high shock tollerance.
2006-02-02 13:09:02
25.   walein
Actually Slice,
I was a huge Dave Winfield fan; but my OBP and Run production in our whiffle league was much higher. I think I liked the idea that Dave was huge and also had been drafted to basketball (which was my sport growing up) and football...it made him more. Plus, one of my earliest memories of going to a Yankee game was hearing the starting line ups and some father and son team next to me in the nose bleeds started chanting "Reggie Jackson" when Winfield was announced and really disliking him for what, to me seemed like no reason.
Then in the top of the 8th inning, with a 1-0 or 2-1 lead (I can't remember for the life of me who the Yanks were playing) a deep fly ball went to right and Winfield caught the ball, bobbled it and lost it against the wall--a run scored, the game was tied.
He was showered with what seemed to my little ears like the entire city of New York "booing" and as a young kid I couldn't understand why everyopne was rooting against our own guy. I felt bad for him.
Dave Winfield led off the next inning (or may have batted second with one out) and with the boos pouring down, belted a shot over the left center field fence and took back the lead and the game for the Yankees. I thought that was so cool that from then on I was convinced he was a superhero.
I know it's a little off the topic. So, I was Dave Winfield (and sometimes Ricky Henderson, occasionaly Mattingly) with ted Williams/jimmie foxx's stats.
I also was a devastating stickball pitcher...and whiffle ball and tennis ball.
Of course, since Nick was younger he didn't always get an impartial umpire
2006-02-02 13:09:04
26.   Sliced Bread
Nice rant re: the invisible Pilsbury doughy suburban kids.
You turned that 'standuptriple' into an in-the-park homer with the "Sweet Lou on Red Bull" image.
Let the record show 'standuptriple' coined the phrase that will soon be sweeping the nation:

Sweet Lou on Red Bull, that was a crap call!

Is she worth all the hassle, man? Sweet Lou on Red Bull, no!

Beg for a raise? I'm bustin' in there like Sweet Lou on Red Bull.

How does the car run? Like Sweet Lou on Red Bull.

Damn, it's hotter than Sweet Lou on Red Bull today.

She was furious, I mean, Sweet Lou on Red Bull pissed.

2006-02-02 13:15:22
27.   wsporter
As soon as the ice would get soft and we couldn't skate on the lake we hoped for the huge puddles to drain out of the big field at the end of the street so we could play ball. Sometimes we only had enough for 5 on 5 with one outfielder and with right field as foul territory. We had a pretty good group, with enough older kids to make sure we smaller kids didn't get our gloves picked or pushed around by off the block invaders. We were in that field every free minute or playing war in the woods behind it. By the time I was an older kid we had moved away. It was 40 years ago and that field is still there and so are the woods. I went by 2 summers ago and it had been fixed up pretty nicely. It was full of thin kids playing soccer. Better than playing their GameBoys I guess.
2006-02-02 13:17:54
28.   yankz
Does anyone else think that this offseason has moved faster than previous ones? I think I owe it to this site- thanks, everyone.
2006-02-02 13:19:27
29.   Sliced Bread
The anti-Winfield crap was shameful, walein.
I think booing anybody at the ballpark is ugly enough, but turning it on a hometeam guy is just a disgrace.
2006-02-02 13:39:51
30.   wsporter
Amen Slice
2006-02-02 13:49:10
31.   standuptriple
Thanks for the cap-tip, Sliced.
Just glad to be part of the team.
2006-02-02 14:00:31
32.   Dimelo
I agree, yankz, this site has made the off season a bit more bearable. But for me, March feels like the longest month. They are playing ball, but it's not meaningful ball and I can't wait till the real stuff starts but I have no choice but to watch and pay attention because Cano/ARod/Jeter/whomever might be going 0 -20 in spring training, RJ/Moe/Mussina/etc are giving up hits left and right. So you start to act concerned, worried, frustrated, etc, etc. Then you read the box scores and see that Alex Gonzalez and Coco Crisp are hitting .800 in 30 spring training at-bats, Foulke hasn't given up a walk or a hit in 9 innings pitched, Schilling has pitched 15 perfect innings.

It is there when I try and breath-in-breath-out and say it's only spring training, then I have to remind myself that three years ago Detroit had the best record coming out of the grapefruit league only to lose 119 games in the regular season.

2006-02-02 14:04:29
33.   Alex Belth
Reggie was far and away my biggest baseball hero, but Guidry and Willie were the guys I most wanted to be like. First of all, since I was a skinny kid, I've always been partial to thin players--it's why I love Mo when he came up in '95 and he's been at the top of my charts ever since. But man, Willie just was a guy I wanted to emmulate on the field...in whiffle ball and stick ball, I wanted to be Reggie, hitting bombs, but in hardball, where the challenge was much greater, I always strived to be a Willie Randolph kind of player.
2006-02-02 14:11:03
34.   tom yf
Hey, I don't know if anyone has suggested this, but when it warms up a little, is anyone down to meet up for a Bronx Banter Series? I guess it would be hard to organize, and I don't know how many people are posting out of New York, but it could be fun meeting up at a park to play a little and maybe heading over to a sports bar afterwards to catch a night Yanks game. Just a thought, maybe logistically impossible.
2006-02-02 14:31:41
35.   brockdc
Not that anybody cares, but I was a Julio Franco man (back elbow jacked into the air, bottom two fingers dangling off the barrel of the Wiffle Ball bat), back in the day.
2006-02-02 15:02:21
36.   Simone
I want to be optimistic about Giambi's production next season, but I simply am not. He is an unathletic player who is just getting older. However, it is good that Giambi is feeling healthy and confident.
2006-02-02 15:57:52
37.   The Mick 536
Lived in downtown Stamford when the buildings couldn't be higher than the bank. Had a friend who I played Wiffle ball with in a postage stamp yard bordered by a three story apartment house on one side and a driveway on the other. The house started just behind the pitcher's mound. Most of the time he was the Dodgers. Some days he was a NL all-star team. I was always the Yankees. Mickey batted leftie, as did Yogi. They hit often.

Hit onto the first roof, over the porch-double,unless you caught the ball as it rolled off-out. Snag a grounder-out. Catch a fly/liner-out. Catch the ball before it hit the ground off any wall-out. Anything else hit between the foul lines-single. Balls landing on the second roof that didn't come down-homer.

Games went the required nine innings unless the light from the porch wasn't bright enough or we had to go into dinner. We didn't have triples. We didn't run. Never argued. Mel announced the games.

We also hit tennis balls with a real bat. Threw hard. Broke a few windows. Hit some over the house or between the buildings onto Bedford Avenue, errr, Summer Street. Then we ran. As if we could hide.

2006-02-02 16:10:08
38.   The Mick 536
This cannot be the time to talk fully about Reggie. As a tease, there were Reggie fans and there were Billy fans. I was a Reggie fan. That guy was tough to root for. And he left us.

I don't care about the fights, though they certainly go down in the story. I don't care about the press. He played them; they played him (take heart Broadway Johnny). I remember the big times. I remember the small times. The former were very big, the latter very small. And how about them slumps, fielding lapses, baserunning boo-boos.

Alex. Write a book about the Reggie years from a fan's standpoint. Just start with him coming to the Yanks as an afterthought and end with him leaving. No Oakland. No Orioles. No Angels. Find a picture of the Rolls. How about some of the babes. Where did he live? Where did he party? You can do it.

As an aside, look at the most recent edition of the SABR baseball research book. Reggie, who didn't respond to the author's request, is reported to have worn a black armband following the killing of the Israeli Olympic Team members in Munich. Quite a guy.

2006-02-02 16:54:23
39.   unpopster
The Mick,

According to the MLB Hall of Fame website, Reggie joined fellow Oakland A's Ken Holtzman and Mike Epstein and wore a black arm band on his uniform after the 72 Munich Games massacre.

I never knew this and WOW, am I impressed!

2006-02-02 19:05:03
40.   Sliced Bread
The Righteous Reggie. There's a chapter title for your book, Mick.
Yeah, a lot of NY fans jumped on the Yankees bandwagon after Reggie came to town. Others, like me, converted.
I was a still an 8-9 year old kid from Flushing, Queens, obviously a Mets fan, when the Bronx Zoo menagerie was coming together.
My dad had been a lifelong Yanks fan, so I had a sense of the history, and I guess he raised me to appreciate both teams.
Elston Howard's autograph, obtained, I believe, at a little league dinner, piqued my interest in the Yanks. I read up on Ruth, Gehrig, Yogi, DiMaggio, Mantle, etc.
Then, enter Reggie, and all hell breaks loose.
Thurman, Nettles, Lou, Catfish, Sparky, Gator, Billy, the Royals, the Red Sox, the Dodgers. In the middle of it all, Willie Randolph, the 2nd baseman I remember my dad suggested I should watch closely.
Randolph was always focused, always appeared to be planning a step ahead, but was always cool and smooth. He didn't make it look easy. He made it look like the best job a guy could have. He played proud, disciplined baseball.
Yeah, I loved Reggie, Thurman, and all the other tough guys on those teams. But I admired Willie Randolph most of all.
Elston Howard's autograph, and Willie Randolph's approach to baseball converted this kid from Flushing.
2006-02-03 11:36:42
41.   The Mick 536
Unpopster. Don't mean to demean Reggie, but why did he do it and who was he mourning? The other two, both Jews, you can understand. Not a planned thing. Epstein says he didn't remember doing it. Why not more? What did Ronnie the DH have to say about it?

Ellie. What a tragedy. George wouldn't give him a salary or let his kid sing the National Anthem. Paid for his funeral. Then let the kid sing the following year after he was dead.

Willie. Where would the armless Mickey be without his cutoff man Willie. Take heed BJ and pal up the Jete. Brian Doyle, where you be boy. No one sadder than me when Willie went down and couldn't play in the Series. Thought it was over.

But as for Reggie whom I adore, tainted by having lived through it and then having read about it. Don't remember which is which anymore. Look at his numbers. You prayed they didn't hit the ball to him. Played out his contract as the DH. Resented Dave Winfield. Couldn't wait for him to leave. I thought he was finished. Even he thought he couldn't hit anymore. Then he had that big season with the Angels. Showed me up.

Try to overlook the 3 homer WS game, all on the first pitch, yes. You really had to love the guy not to hate him. He wasn't there all the time. When he was, he could carry the whole team, bench included. Stirred the drink, eh. Big homeruns. A little hop, eyes towards the ball. Head down around first almost to third, looking up only a bit. Slap the coach. Not always joy from the team. Still not enough mustard for that hot dog.

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