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Yankee Panky #2: The Last Writes of Spring (Training)
2007-04-02 05:45
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

By Will Weiss
Bronx Banter Correspondent

"Rupert Murdoch should cut me a check for all the papers I've helped him sell."
-- Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestley, in The Devil Wears Prada

Sure, the above quote can be applied to Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, or Brangelina. But since the lead-in to the only display of humanness Meryl Streep shows in the film refers to "another divorce splashed across Page Six," let's figure that someone named Steinbrenner was muttering something similar this past week.

The marriage of Steve Swindal and Jennifer (Steinbrenner) Swindal is over, and as a result, Swindal is out as a general partner of the Yankees. The ascent of the top son-in-law is no more. It has ceased to be. Let the race for the New Boss begin.

Just about every angle of this story was examined: reporters and columnists from all the local papers raised the question Swindal's replacement. Every beat reporter I read rightly mentioned the effect of Swindal's ouster on Brian Cashman and Joe Torre – it was Swindal who twice convinced Joe Torre to come back, and helped negotiate Cashman's return and increased the GM's decision-making power. In his solid Thursday report, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times intuited that Steinbrenner's other son-in-law, Felix Lopez, could jump to the forefront. Daily News columnist Bill Madden carried this further in his Friday column, writing that Lopez has become more of a fixture on the operations side "to the dismay of the other three siblings." The Times' Richard Sandomir wondered which of Steinbrenner's two sons, Hal or Hank, would take over should the Patriarch look in their direction. Sandomir's colleague Harvey Araton called for a shift in philosophy and wondered why neither of Steinbrenner's daughters would be considered to run the team instead of the sons. In addition, Swindal's DUI arrest and questions of what would become of his shares of the team as a result of the divorce were smartly asked; and notes and quotes from Swindal's other business associates at Excelsior Racing regarding his group's bid to buy the thoroughbred franchise completed the coverage.

The Swindal situation provided fodder for the talkies, of course. To be expected, there was a hint of melodrama in their reactions and in their projections regarding the future of the Yankees' front-office hierarchy. Overall, the mainstreamers did pretty well in keeping things on the level and not going overboard with the tabloid potential of the story.

Reading so many versions of the same story – particularly one like this – is fascinating. Not only is it fun to see the range of sources the writers interview from a competitive standpoint, from a straight writing perspective, it was amazing to see how many different ways the question, "Who will benefit from nepotism as it relates to the Yankees, and when will a decision be made," was presented.

Per your requests from last week, I turn to the blogosphere for info and insight the mainstream didn't provide. Derek Jacques, the esteemed proprietor of The Weblog That Derek Built, put it best:

"As someone who was until recently in the marital strife industry, I'm sensitive toward what Steve Swindal and Jennifer Steinbrenner must be going through. The end of a marriage is a real human tragedy, also something truly private and really not the business of anyone outside of the couple and perhaps their immediate family, friends, and business partners.

"But as a Yankee fan, I just gotta look at Swindal and say 'You jerk! We were counting on you! You had it all in the palm of your hand and you blew it, just completely and totally blew it!'"

* * *

The Swindal situation wasn't the only divorce splashed across the New York pages. PAVANO GAL PAL DROPS BOMBER led Page Six on Friday, as news of Gia Allemand's dumping of the oft-injured righty came out three days prior to Opening Day. Good times in Pavanoville.

The story combined Johnson and Li's reporting with an interview Allemand did for Steppin' Out magazine. A lot of fun bits in this story, but nothing surprising -- not even Allemand's attempt at irony.

"That's our personal life. I don't think it needs to be in the paper," Allemand told the Post. "I don't want this to distract him at all."

Dear Gia – can I call you Gia? -- if you don't want your personal life in the paper, calmly say "no comment" and move on. Don't do a lengthy interview for a magazine where you detail how the relationship went awry and then follow it up with more nuggets for Page Six. On the other hand, if you're looking to help promote your upcoming Maxim pictorial, then you and your publicist are doing a bang-up job.

Back to Pavano...In his two Yankee seasons, he has shown himself to be hypersensitive to negative press. Allemand knows this as well as anyone, since she's been dragged into this mess with him for the better part of six months. From the files of Captain Obvious: How is this not going to distract Pavano? The fact that the first regular-season pitch he'll throw since June 27, 2005, is on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium is probably freaking him out enough. Now the news of this breakup will be trailing him like Pigpen's dust cloud. (At this point, would anyone be surprised if the creative strikeout card makers in the upper deck will hang 8 x 10s of Allemand for every K? How about if 20,000 or so fans wear T-shirts with the message "It must suck to be you" under a silk screen of Pavano's likeness? I wouldn't rule anything out. )

I'm curious to see how this is treated in the television and radio broadcasts.

* * *

Aside from the Yankee edition of Divorce Court, there was plenty of on-field news this week, from the daily Pettitte update, Josh Phelps and Wil Nieves beating out Andy Phillips and Todd Pratt, respectively, for the backup first base and catcher spots, and the standard season preview commentary. Cliff Corcoran has done an excellent job of relaying all that to you in this space, so I'll keep my portion of the news brief.

Most Telling Quote Related to On-Field Matters: "I will like it more when [Chien-Ming] Wang gets back. We need to get the guy healthy."
-- GM Brian Cashman, on the team beginning the season with a patchwork rotation

Most Interesting Story: The dual effort from Post beatman George King and the Associated Press profiling Mariano Rivera's move to the roomy corner locker most recently occupied by Bernie Williams, and previously by Don Mattingly, Dave Righetti and Ron Guidry, to name a few. While the space, as Rivera says, is not much bigger than the standard locker in the clubhouse, the move is symbolic of Rivera's stature as a team leader. (Plus, there is added privacy, so he can steal away from the media should discussion of his contract escalate during the season.)

In new stadium news: Neil DeMause breaks down the logistics of the new Yankee Stadium and the CitiField project in Queens for the Village Voice.

Thank you, Deadspin: For the notes on Project A-13, a Web site devoted to tapering the negative treatment of Alex Rodriguez. ESPN.com's endorsement of A-Rod as the league's top third baseman and projected league MVP won't hurt this site's traffic.

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere: Steven Goldman's Pinstriped Blog is always a good read, but especially so during the time of final cuts. Pay particular attention to his note on the Yankees backup catcher situation. Knowing Steve as I do (I edited his YESNetwork.com columns for 4 ½ years), I would bet this theme appears close to 100 times during the course of the season. That still wouldn't top the number of Tony Womack discussions through the first six weeks of the 2005 season, though.

I've rambled long enough...Now it's your turn. A special bonus "Opening Day Review" edition coming tomorrow.

Comments
2007-04-02 06:04:52
1.   jayd
Apropos of absolutely nothing: 76% of Boston Herald readers have chosen the hometown Sawksers as AL East champions.

What do they know that we don't?

Absolutely nothing.

Yanks with 112 wins. Steam to a WS victory: the joy is palpable. #27 is one we will never forget.

Twinkies sink early, Johan my Johan to the Yanks; allowing Clemens to join the Sawks where the big guy puts together a godawful last year and amid a chorus of boos and laser hatred only the Fenway Faithful can produce, Clemens turns and spits at the crowd, recalling the late Teddy Baseball.

By August Matsuzaka is gone and Manny is openly courting the Mets.

So much to look forward to....

2007-04-02 06:23:17
2.   RIYank
And speaking of rumors (and I just stuck this into the previous thread too, sorry), local (New England) stations are reporting the rumor that Curt Schilling has been injured in KC, grazed by the mirror of an SUV when he stepped off a curb.
Here's the entry, with little further info, at Baseball Musings:
http://tinyurl.com/3afjkh
2007-04-02 06:29:33
3.   Repoz
"I edited his YESNetwork.com columns for 4 ½ years"

So you're to blame!...:")

2007-04-02 06:44:24
4.   Knuckles
I'm ready.
I hope Pavano is.
The lineup is stacked.
Comcast is throwing me $50 to offset buying MLB.tv.
My boss is out of the office this week.I bked in to work today- 60 and sunny, even better for the way home.
God bless America.
Play Ball!
2007-04-02 06:45:53
5.   Knuckles
2
I heard it was a news van, and Schilling was trying to flag it down to give an interview...
2007-04-02 06:49:18
6.   Sliced Bread
Yeah, Bernie's old corner locker is in good hands.

Morrissey had some good quotes re: Bernie in today's NY Post:

"Not having Bernie around is weird," Posada said. "It doesn't matter who's in the locker. It's just not having him around, and not being able to talk to him - and really have him around and do the things we do when he was here is a little weird."

Andy Pettitte:
"Obviously, you realize he's not here and you think about him," Pettitte said. "And you hate it.

"You hate the way things have turned out. He was here a long, long time. He was a great teammate. He'll definitely be missed."

Completely off topic:
Not sure how widely this has been reported, but I found this on the Star Ledger's Yanks blog:

"Some tidbits about jerseys: Darrell Rasner will wear No. 27 when the season opens. Sean Henn will wear No. 34. Luis Vizcaino got 52 from first base coach Tony Pena."
-----------------------

In other words, Rasner has taken the Kevins digits, Henn will be sporting Wright's old numbers, and Vizcaino becomes the first player since Contreras to wear 52. Vizcaino has worn 51 in the past, but you figure Bernie has a lock on those digits.

2007-04-02 06:54:24
7.   Sliced Bread
2 5 not an ice cream truck?
2007-04-02 06:55:30
8.   Sliced Bread
7 assuming the report is a hoax, and he's not seriously injured, that is...
2007-04-02 07:17:25
9.   Larry
Anyone have a link to a website to watch the game on your computer? Someone shared a brilliant link to a site called TVU for Game 2 against Detroit back in October, but it appears TVU no longer has ESPN.

I realize it's traditional to start opening day at 1:05 and all, but it's incredibly frustrating for Yankee fans who have to work.

2007-04-02 07:20:28
10.   WillWeiss
I'm with you on that, Larry. ... Hence the beauty of DVR.
2007-04-02 07:51:29
11.   Count Zero
Pavano's start today is an interesting event for April. It could go either way...

1) He gets shelled, Torre takes him out of the game, boos rain down upon him, he's crushed...might as well trade him.

2) He gets a quality start (3 runs or less over 6 lets say), has the lead, Torre lets him get the first out of the seventh then takes him out so the fans can cheer.

This guy is in a very, very tough spot today (adding Gia was just the cherry on top) -- I think Yankee fans totally realize what a tough spot it is. If he comes through it strong and posts an opening W, it could end up being a pivotal moment for him. The whole team will be there to pat him on the back for stepping up when Wang and Pettitte were hurt, and I think the fans will give him a lot of credit for not buckling in a situation that just screams failure.

Then again -- I could be totally wrong...

2007-04-02 07:56:18
12.   Knuckles
11
I'm glad there's not a bullpen car anymore, because I could see Pavano going 6+ strong, then getting run over by it after allowing the leadoff man on base in the 7th.

PS- how ridiculous was that thing? you're a pro athlete, and you enter the game, being driven 300 feet in an automobile!

2007-04-02 08:02:15
13.   jkay
The Times reported Swindal and Steinbrenner's group has withdrawn its bid for New York's horse racing franchise. Swindal's fall from grace is now complete.
2007-04-02 08:06:25
14.   WillWeiss
Thanks for staying on top of that, jkay. ... When I wrote the blog, that news hadn't come out yet.
2007-04-02 08:10:24
15.   RIYank
The Schilling report was a hoax.
Sorry for spreading the virus!
2007-04-02 08:10:37
16.   Murray
Not that I have any special insight to offer, but how do we know it was Steve Swindal's fault that his marriage fell apart? Maybe it's her fault. Maybe it's nobody's fault.
2007-04-02 08:13:40
17.   rbj
Yea! Opening Day! I actually have the afternoon off (have to work tonight), but I stupidly made the dog's vet appointment for 2 pm. D'oh!
2007-04-02 08:24:03
18.   Yankee Fan In Boston
9 i tried to find a live stream of ESPN online a few weeks ago for the 1st spring game to no avail.

every link i found that claimed to be such a stream was in fact some old episode of cold pizza and some x games thing...

i checked again today, with no luck.

if i find anything, i'll let you know.

2007-04-02 08:26:32
19.   dianagramr
90 minutes before gametime, and the Press Pass game notes for the Yankees isn't up yet on mlb.com?

How am I supposed to enjoy the game without them?

(ok .... off to the D train .... see you at the Stadium)

2007-04-02 08:47:52
20.   mehmattski
16 It's at least A-Rod's fault.

Does anyone else have the NYY Radio theme song stuck in thier head today?

Duuu-daaaa, da-da-da-DAAA-duh-da-da....

2007-04-02 08:58:36
21.   Zavo
I am so ready for the Yanks to kick things off today. I have been looking at the clock every ten minutes for the last hour already. This morning is moving VERY slowly.
2007-04-02 09:41:38
22.   ChuckM
I believe Goose always took the bullpen car in.

And I always get the old "This Week in Baseball" theme in my head this time of year. Showing my age, I guess...

2007-04-02 09:48:59
23.   vockins
I'm wondering what ad is going to make me want to hit my radio/TV with a hammer this year.

Early favorites are Select Dental and Foxwoods, but the Ford Motor Company is also in the running.

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