Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-07-17 11:04
by Alex Belth


[Note: Nice last post, huh? Holy errors. I think I started my vacation too early. Jeff Weaver gave up one run, and Jason Giambi has 26 homers and 73 RBI.

I watched the All-Star and have to admit, although it was a close game, I wasn't so into it. I think inter-league play really kills the excitement for me. Anyhow, I was pleased that the AL won, for what it's worth.]

Here's another interesting wrinkle in the Yankees season (and the Mets season for that matter): Armando Benitez now wears pinstripes. The long-rumored deal which sent the Mets much-maligned closer to the Bronx finally went down yesterday. The Mets get three prospects in return for Benitez, who will serve as Mariano Rivera's set-up man.

I must admit, I don't know how to feel about this one. On one hand the Yankees just got more unlikable. They could start a club called The Moody Latin Mooks, what with Benitez joining Ruben Ruben and Raul Mondesi as card-carrying members. Hey, I know Jose Lima's stock is soaring right now, how about trading Weaver for him? The club would be complete if the Yanks trade for Juan Gone.

I've never cared much for Benitez, especially after he drilled Tino square in the back in '98. He's easy not to like. A hulking, sulking fireballer with a million dollar arm and a ten cent head. I watched from a distance as he became public enemy #1 for Mets fans everywhere (with apologies to Roger Cedeno). But I also found myself defending him to Mets fans who treated Benitez like he was Skip Lockwood. He is a talented closer, just not an elite one. But he blew one too many ¡®big' saves for the Mets and they clearly needed to wash their hands of him.

Now, after rooting against him all these years, Yankee fans have to get behind Benitez. As hard as this may seem, we had to get used to Roger Clemens too, and that worked out pretty well. One thing that works in his favor is that he is not going to close, unless something happens to Rivera (in which case, all bets are off). Is Benitez better than what the Yankees have? Yes. Will he make Yankee fans suffer in a close game, late in the season? Yes.

Will the Yankee fans cut him any slack at all? I don't know, but I wouldn't count on it. If he can somehow manage to start off on the right foot, it might go a long way in saving him a trip straight to the doghouse. But just wait until he blows a lead against the Sox.

I do know that this is a win-win situation for Mets fans. Whatever happens, they have to feel confident that they will make out on this trade. If Benitez stinks they'll be happy because the guy they hate is doing just what they expect him to do, plus he's doing it for the Yanks. And if he wins, then they get to hate him and the Yankees just a little bit more than they already do.

I'm curious to see how the Yankee players respond to the big lug, and of course, how he'll respond to a golden opportunity. Hey, at least this season hasn't been dull.

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