Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-03-04 07:38
by Alex Belth


David Wells will waive his no-trade clause according to a report in today's Post. Yankee GM Brian Cashman is in the middle of reading Boomer's book, and will act accordingly when he is finished. What that means remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Boss George continues to keep his lip zipped. The only thing reporters could pry out of the Yankee owner yesterday was:

"I am like a big elephant trying to get out of the tent," Steinbrenner said, jokingly as he tried to break away from a stampede of media. "Let the young elephants in."

Okay...I'm a leave this one alone. Insert Fat Guy jokes here.

Kevin Kernan continues his assault on the hefty lefy in the Post, saying it's time the Yanks parted ways with the trouble-making pitcher, and Filip Bondy talks to Jim Bouton about the perils of locker room literature in the Daily News. Bouton, who was black-balled by the baseball establishment for years after the release of his seminal "Ball Four" had some words of wisdom for Boomer:

I'm officially forgiven," said Bouton, who has been invited again to the next Old-Timers' Day. "Wells can look forward to 15, 20 years from now, when everything will be fine."

Regardless of the constant distractions in Yankee camp this spring, the usual reserved, even dour, Mike Mussina is having a grand ol' time:

"Everybody wants to feel comfortable where they are," Mussina was saying yesterday. "Having been in one organization for 10 years, it takes a little while to get that comfort level back again."

That is as close as Mussina will come to admitting he has let his guard down a bit this spring and allowed the media to get to know him a bit. But it's true; out of nowhere he has become a favorite among the Yankee beat writers, chatting casually with them about everything from the recent Hall of Fame voting to his collection of classic cars.

..."I've noticed that he seems looser," Stottlemyre said yesterday. "He's more easy-going, and that's good. It's important for him to feel good about himself. He's a perfectionist.

"And it's not that he didn't communicate in the past, he just seems to be doing it a little more freely now. Joking around and stuff. We've already talked more this spring than we did all of last spring training."

..."This team is experienced enough not to let these things affect us," Mussina said. "If we play well, the other stuff goes away. My last couple of years in Baltimore, we weren't playing well and we had no fans at all. That's a tough atmosphere to play in. You're looking at the calendar in July and crossing off the days already.

"Here, you get accustomed to things going on around the team. With Boomer, I know there are certain issues that people are really upset about, and they certainly have a right to be, but in general I'm just having fun with it.

"When you take this many people and jam them together for as long as we're together, there needs to be a lighter side. You can't make it mentally without it."

Over in Port St. Lucie, Al Leiter summed up the Mets take on the Yankees' wild camp: "Better them than us."


Godzilla Matsui hit his second homer of the spring yesterday. Today, Jose Contreras will get the start against the Red Sox. Think George will be watching?

The Boston Globe has a good piece on the allure of Yankee pinstripes, and how it made Jose Contreras a lock to land in the Bronx, not Beantown:

''It's unbelievable how many Yankee fans there are in the world, but especially in Cuba,'' Contreras said. ''I don't know how they follow them, because they are not able to watch on TV, but I think Cuban people who live in the States ship videos and newspaper articles. Sometimes I think Cuban Yankee fans know more about the Yankees than the Yankee fans in the States.

''There is a central park in Cuba where all the sports fans come together. Some people think I am a traitor, but the baseball fans are not like that. They argue about how many games I will win. That gives me energy.''


Peter Gammons previews the defending National League champions, and finds Barry Bonds in good form. David Pinto linked this article a few days ago and focused on Bonds' approach to hitting. Bonds apparently picked up some tips from watching David Eckstein swing, which just goes to show that the greatest hitter on earth is still learning, still fine-tuning his craft.

Last spring, ESPN ran a feature on Bonds, who demonstrated his technique of catching the ball with his bat. He stood at the plate with a mitt instead of a bat. As each pitch came in, Bonds, turning his hips, leveled his head, and went into his swing. Instead of hitting the pitch, he caught the ball. He then placed it on the plate, and then got ready for the next pitch. It was a remarkably simple concept, one that makes so much sense that we can only hope that Bonds follows in Teddy Ballgame's footsteps and writes a book about hitting someday.

David Pinto also has a link to a nice little Yankee story that is worth reading.

The Boston Globe has an article on the Red Sox low-risk, "secret weapon," relief pitcher, Chad Fox, and Bill Madden makes a case for Mets third base wanna-be, Ty Wigginton in the Daily News.

Finally, Pete Rose is back in the news today. Personally, I find his story so enervating, I can't bring myself to write about it. At least not until something concrete happens. However, look no further than John Perricone's Only Baseball Matters for complete Pete Rose coverage. He doesn't have a new post regarding Rose as I'm writing this, but that won't last long. He lives on the West Coast and is still sleepin.

Check out the Grandmaster asap.

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