Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2005-08-02 04:51
by Alex Belth

Slow news day, huh?

After two tense, come-from-behind wins, there isn't much in the way of Yankee news this morning as the team prepares to start August in Cleveland (before heading for Toronto this weekend). Hideo Nomo was fuhideous in a Triple A start last night, and Shawn Chacon is happy to be away from Coors Field. No suprises there.

I read something the other day that said that Carl Pavano has been a disappointment on-and-off the field this year. I'm vaguely aware of talk that he hasn't been communicative with the coaching staff, but Steve Lombardi has a link to a story that appeared in Newsday which suggests Pavano would rather be somewhere else than New Detroit. Hmm. Now how often do you hear that?

Yesterday, Will Carroll--who did a first-rate job on the Palmeiro story--had this health report on the Yankees:

The Yankees were left with nothing at the break, smartly grabbing what was available (Shawn Chacon and various waiver detritus) before the deadline. The waiver wire figures to produce few trade options in August, so help, if it's coming, will have to come from within. Carl Pavano is close and now Jaret Wright is showing positive progress. Wright made his first rehab start at high-A Tampa, going 65 pitches in 2 1/3 innings. Normally, that's not positive. Wright's control, never good, is still on the DL. He's facing at least three more rehab starts and will have to find that control before he'll be able to think about coming back to the Bronx. We'll know more after his next start, but at this stage, he's not likely to help the club in August.

Hey, anyone notice how well Andy Pettitte and Brad Halsey have been pitching lately? I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, I was in favor of letting Pettitte walk and moving Halsey in the Johnson trade. I'm just saying, man, they've been hot. (As has Emily's boy Tony Clark.) Good for them.

The Bottom Line

One thing that was reinforced by the recent Manny Ramirez hoopla is that all anyone really cares about is the bottom line: production. It's not about how you play the game, or playing the game the right way, or setting a good example for kids, it is about what you produce while you are on the field. Some people might not like the way a player like Ramirez approaches the game, but so long as Manny is Manny most fans will put up with Manny being Manny. If you are a great player--and I don't think Ramirez is a great player, he's a great hitter and just like Ted Williams, that is enough--you can essentially get away with anything you want--within reason, of course. The moment Ramirez's production begins to fade I assume people will turn on him as quickly as fans turned on Sammy Sosa in Chicago. For now, he remains the Gangster of Love and the best right-handed hitter in the American League.

And Another Thing

I only caught a portion of Peter Gammons' Hall of Fame speech on Sunday, but ESPN has a complete transcript if you are interested. Also, Stephen Borelli, author of "How About That! The Life of Mel Allen," had a nice piece on Jerry Coleman for the USA Today over the weekend too. Oh, and in case you missed it, Jonathan Mahler had an interesting feature on Omar Minaya and the Mets in The New York Times magazine the other day. It's well-worth checking out (as is--and forgive me from digressing from baseball for a second--a terrific article by Roger Rubin about the Emmett Till case).

That is all.

2005-08-02 06:02:23
1.   Ben
Awesome last night A. I couldn't remember if it was Mr. Ruben from Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary school or some other PA announcer from my past. Long Live Radar
2005-08-02 06:03:50
2.   Ben
Er, rather awesome last line A.
2005-08-02 06:30:51
3.   rbj
Seattle has released Aaron Sele.
Good thing the Yankees didn't immediately plug Nomo into the non-rotation.
I'd have preferred that we keep Pettite, but it seems that he really wanted to be closer to home.
Why do I feel like I'm channeling Larry King?
2005-08-02 06:52:43
4.   Murray
Sele can't fool anybody. At least Nomo has the funky windup and Leiter is left-handed.

Is Britt Burns ready for another comeback attempt? What's Ted Higuera up to these days? Maybe Brien Taylor wants to give it one last shot.

2005-08-02 06:59:53
5.   jedi
How are those Perez boys doing? Not Olive or Odalis, silly...

I'm talking about Melido and Pascual. Bring em back. The curls are in!

2005-08-02 07:39:13
6.   Cliff Corcoran
From the Nomo article Alex linked to:

"Shingo Takatsu and Aaron Sele were released by the White Sox and Mariners, respectively, yesterday and one Yankee decision-maker said interest would be tepid in Takatsu. The Yankees recently scouted Sele and weren't impressed."

2005-08-02 08:14:34
7.   Mike from Hoboken
Don't know about those guys, Murray, but I think Irabu is ready for a comeback.
2005-08-02 09:06:41
8.   rowerx
A lot rides on how Leiter performs tonight to determine if Cash's strategy makes sense. If he can repeat his Fenway performance, we know he's for real. What troubles me is how many pitches he throws. In a game of stats, throwing more pitches isn't a good thing.
2005-08-02 09:19:15
9.   Shaun P
Leiter's high pitch counts, and the insane number of walks he gives up, actually don't bother me, as long as he keeps preventing the runners from scoring. I mean, this is what he's done throughout his career - high pitch counts, high walk rates - and he obviously knows how to succeed while doing it. As long as he keeps throwing first-pitch strikes, I think he'll be OK.

I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Gammons at one of his Hot Stove/Cool Music events in Boston (before they became impossibly crowded - and impossible to get tickets to). He was a very classy guy. So I watched his HoF speech from start to finish - did anyone else notice that whenever he seemed on the verge of tears, he'd pause and then resume his speech at a rapid pace? The pictures of him beforehand, with that smile/smirk on his face - he looked like a little kid. It was a rewarding experience, seeing a good man like that enter the HoF.

2005-08-02 09:32:17
10.   JVarghese81
The inevitable low after the Angels series is a little scary. I hope the Yanks come out and play well against the Tribe.

Keep in mind that the yankees aren't playing Tampa Bay here - this team, while not having the cachet as the Red Sox or Angels, is plenty good and tonight the Yanks go up against quite possibly the best fifth starter in the majors - Elarton, over his last 10 starts, is 4-3, 3.67 over 69 innings (one of those wins was against the Yanks where he went 7 strong and only gave up 3 runs). Then you have 11 game winner Cliff Lee and Kevin Millwod (4-5, 3.06 in his last 10 - 62 inngs, 52h, 18bb, 46k).

Thankfully, (though I do wish him well in his recovery), it doesn't look like Hafner will be back for, at the very least, the first game of the series. Also, a win tonight might be the best night of this series to pick up a game on the Red Sox as they face a good pitcher in Hernandez of the Royals. The rest of the Royals rotation the Sox face is...mediocore...AT BEST.

2005-08-02 10:25:05
11.   singledd
Re: the Palmeiro story: I'm all for trying to eliminate Steroids and illegal substances, but the way this policy works is terrible. We, the fans, deserve more qualified information. If a criminal moves next door, I want to know if he is a jay-walker or a mass murderer. I want to know when, why, where and how. Knowing that Palmeiro tested positive and is out if 10 days is not enough. We, and the media, should not be guessing, fantasizing or speculating. MLB should let the public know EXACTLY what has accurred, with as much qualifying why/when/where/how as possible.

Re: Steve Lombardi on Pavano: Jeez.... I thought he wanted to be a Yankee. If this article is true, hopefully Pavano WON'T be a Yankee next year. Just what we need from our 3rd Pitcher... a Tigers fan.

Re: Manny Ramirez hoopla: I can't stand the guy. He represents EVERYTHING that is wrong with 'superstars' and obese salaries, and is a blight on the game. I live in NH and watch almost every Sox game. Forget the retarded play on the field. His behavior, lack of hussle and 'what me worry' attitude is horrible to watch. It is a shame that teams (like the Sox) don't have the honor to make players that act badly accountable. I wish MLB had some policies that all players had to adhere to and enforced. I guy pushes a camera man and is out 20 games. Manny takes a bathroom break in the green Monster in the middle of an inning, and nothing happens. If the Sox won't bench him, at least fine him big and often, and let some children's charities benefit. It should become official. Anyone who does something incredibly stupid, unaware, lazy or selfish is be 'pulling a Manny'.

I heard a lot of sh_t from Sox fans about Giambi. Jason, while he made a big mistake, has some honor. Manny, who makes about $33,000 per AB (!!!!!!!!) is a cancer on this great game.

2005-08-02 10:41:57
12.   KJC
I think the Giambi-Ramirez comparison is a bit odd. Yeah, Manny's a goofball and one can make a good argument that he's lazy and unaware. (I have a hard time thinking he's selfish, though -- his actions are selfish, but I think he's actually unaware that he's being selfish...but then again, I don't know the guy.)

But where Manny's style of play can be annoying (for Sox fans, too, I might add), I think 'taking steroids' is more of a cancer-on-the-game crime than 'playing lazy'.

Every (rich) team has at least one player like Manny. As Alex mentioned, if they produce, the flaws are overlooked. I know many NY fans hate Kevin Brown for punching a wall last year, but if he had come back and shut down the Sox in the ALCS and then had a great '05, would he still be as hated?

2005-08-02 10:53:23
13.   Murray
Yes, he would. Brown's actions jeopardized the team's chances in a completely irresponsible manner.

See, lazy players like Ramirez or players that are easy to dislike don't put the fan in such a tough spot. Red Sox fans root for the Red Sox, not necessarily for Ramirez. If Ramirez does something that helps the Sox win, the fans will cheer--for the Red Sox, but not necessarily for Ramirez. Would you expect a game-winning homer to be treated with silence by the home town fans? It would be awkward. But when Ramirez does something that doesn't help the Red Sox win, he will be held personally accountable by the boo birds. This is neither inconsistent nor hypocritical.

2005-08-02 11:38:36
14.   Alex Belth
singledd. I hear you. Let me ask you this though: How different is Ramirez from Ted Williams?
2005-08-02 12:04:41
15.   NetShrine
Well, they are both headless........
2005-08-02 12:56:52
16.   Sully
Why is Manny such an affront? He's a goofball that can hit.
2005-08-02 13:04:14
17.   Fred Vincy

The last two people I can think of saying on the record that they preferred Detroit to New York are Jeff Weaver and Juan Gonzalez. 'nuff said.

2005-08-02 13:04:17
18.   uburoisc
Shaun, good comments on Gammons, he more than made up for Sandberg. Also agree on Leiter. I would rather have a guy who is stingy and nibbles the plate with a lot of pitches, trying to get the hitter to make a mistake, than have it served up 0-2 with a weak, hanging slider over the plate. Sure, Al will pay for it from time to time, but he sure tries not to make those stupid mental mistakes that kill a team.
2005-08-02 13:06:32
19.   rbj
I don't mind Manny being such a goofball, what with misplays in the field, or ducking into the wall to take a leak. I will get on his case for not running out every ball, but then I'll get on Bernie's case when he does the same thing.
And I don't think Manny ever flipped off the crowd.
2005-08-02 14:35:17
20.   singledd
Williams asked to be traded repeatedly? Even with the Sox in the Post season? And then proceded to beg to NOT be traded?

Williams went inside the Green Monster in the middle of an inning?

Williams hit a pop-up and walked directly into the dug-out?

Williams hit a ground ball with a man on first, assumed it was a DP, and just jogged to first... even when the guy at second was safe, and the throw to first was bad, and pulled the first baseman off the bag... and still jogged the last steps... casually ducking to avoid the first baseman?

These events happened last month. There were many more. I don't know how Williams played the game... but if it was like Manny, I sorry that he had gotten such fame.

I thought Williams (like Bonds) was unfriendly to the press and was not concerned how the press perceived him. I didn't know it dogged it and cost his team.

Kids emulate ballplayers. It is not only the lesson that Manny teaches... but the guy is paid 20 mil a year. 20 MILLION a year! Does he have ANY obligations to the team? The fans? The game?

Manny constantly spits in the face of the game. Williams did this?

2005-08-02 19:30:03
21.   KJC
Kids emulate ballplayers. Giambi cheated -- taking illegal substances -- to get to where he is... but the guy is paid over 13 mil a year. 13 MILLION a year! Does he have ANY obligations to the team? The fans? The game?

Come on, the majority of players aren't exactly role models. (Just today, Reds pitcher Jung Keun Bong was charged with domestic battery.) They're human, and there are different personalities in baseball just like there are in other aspects of life. Manny would probably be a lazy garbageman, and Jeter would probably dive headfirst into the cans...

2005-08-02 19:44:22
22.   Alex Belth
There are several things I just can't answer here. I don't know if Ted Williams ever asked to be traded but he played in a different time and I don't think with the reserve clause intact any player had the nerve to ask to be traded. So that's a tough one.

I have read that Williams was an indifferent fielder at best and a horrible one at worst. I don't know if he ever took a leak in the middle of an inning--frankly, I think you have to have a least some sense of humor to do that. I don't know first hand if he ever jogged balls out, but something tells me that yes, he in fact did.

Again, I understand your point-of-view on Manny--or any self-centered player for that matter. I just think that Williams was very much the 1950s version of what you are complaining about.

According to Glenn Stout's "Red Sox Century,"
on May 11, 1949, Williams dropped a fly ball in the first game of a double header against the Tigers. Later in the game he hit a grand slame in a 13-4 Sox loss. He had been booed after dropping the fly ball but was cheered after the home run. According to the Boston Globe Williams "raised two fingers skyward to let those fans he felt about them." In the second game, the Sox had a shutout going when Williams misplayed a singled and three runs scored. He was booed again and he repeated his gesture to the fans three more times.

One reporter commented that "the rules of self-imposed journalistic decency prevented newspapers from explaining the degrading gesutres...Pictures of the performance he gave were discarded by this newspaper for the sake of children, ladies and nomral persons to whom the actions would have been indecipherable or revolting."

And I don't know if Williams spit in the face of the game, but he did spit at the crowd. After making an error at Fenway on August 7, 1954 Williams was booed lustily and, according to Stout, "Before entering the dugout he spit toward the crowd behind first base, then turned and did so toward those behind third, lest anyone feel left out."

Williams was fined $5,000 by the Sox, the largest fine since Ruth broke curfew way back in 1925. Williams hit a homer shortly thereafter and cut his baby act and the fans embraced him again.

I think that Williams was tagged with the "selfish" label during his playing days and I think he was as poor an example of the kind of sportsmanship and respect-for-the-game that you admire as you find Ramirez to be. He was a great hitter, maybe the best ever, but he was also a petulent, self-absorbed asshole. He did not a well-rounded player. All he cared about was hitting. That was enough for him. And that is apparently enough for Ramirez too.

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