Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
You May Be Warshed Up, But You're Ours and We Luh Ya
2006-06-13 05:31
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

At Yankee Stadium, it doesn't much matter that Bernie Williams is no longer a star player. Williams is cheered for just about everything he does well and is forgiven for his short-comings. He's earned it, so it has been a pleasure to watch Yankee fans show their appreciation for Williams this year. Not everyone is so lucky. According to Peter Botte in the Daily News:

"Bernie will make an error and they'll cheer him when he comes up (to bat). For the guys who get booed off the face of the earth, I'm sure they feel it's unfair, but that's the way it goes," [manager] Joe Torre said Sunday. "Bernie's just never changed. From the first day I met him 11 years ago, to now, and he's made a ton of money . . . but this man has never changed one bit."

..."He's just never felt he was entitled to something. I told him one time that he was a leader here and I think I stunned him," Torre said. "He's always been very honest and an elegant individual to me. He's been a regular player and a great player in postseason and it's always the 'aw-shucks' stuff all the time. But I think he's enjoying this a lot."

Williams tells Tyler Kepner how influencial Don Mattingly was for him during the early '90s:

"He taught me a piece of advice that I take even to this day," Williams said Sunday. "He said to me: 'I don't really care what you do the night before or the week before — when you come to the field, you come ready to play. Mentally ready to play. You've got to be all there. You can't worry about maybe I don't feel too good today, or I don't feel 100 percent. You've got to go like: dude, get it done.'"

Almost 2,000 times now, Williams has taken the field, with aches most fans never hear about. He estimates that players are in top shape only 25 percent of the time. The other days are a grind, Williams said, but it is important for young players to see veterans playing hurt.

"It has more of a positive influence than you would ever know," he said.

The Kepner article is worth checking out just to see the photograph of Williams when he was a young major leaguer. He's rocking the Dorkasaurous Rex glasses and everything.

2006-06-13 06:40:46
1.   rbj
Just got back from a weekend in NH, for a friend's wedding? What's up, besides the Yank's losing streak and dumping of Erickson?

BTW Alex, I finally had time to read your book. Very nice, thoroughly enjoyable.

2006-06-13 06:42:34
2.   rsmith51
Bernie can always play for my team. Though, I would hope not this much...

Who's this Conteras fellow playing for the ChiSox? He has won 15 in a row. Is he related to that Contreras that played for the Yanks? ;-) They couldn't possibly be the same guy...

2006-06-13 06:56:31
3.   Sliced Bread
I appreciate every Bernie at-bat, even if he grounds into a DP.
I think he's still capable of having good at-bats, and will reward his manager, team, and fans for having faith in him.
He shouldn't be playing the field as much as he is, but it's not his fault Joe put him out there. Let's Go Bernie! One more for the road...
2006-06-13 07:07:09
4.   yankaholic
Did u guys look at the NY tabloids back pages..

ridiculous.. they are bashing the Yanks and sucking upto the Mets..

One Pedro foot-injury is all that stands from bringing that team back down to earth..

i hate it when they compare the Yanks n Mets.. AL n NL are not the same.. period

2006-06-13 07:14:23
5.   Shaun P
Bernie managed to pull off the old "Dorkasaurous Rex glasses" a lot better than I did back in the day. I'll miss him when the end finally comes, but at this rate methinks its soon.

Not to start trouble, but I can't but help wonder if Contreras's success is due to his pitching coach telling him "Go up there and use your best stuff and try to strike every one of those guys out". As opposed to being told "Don't worry about strikeouts, pitch to contact."

2006-06-13 07:57:32
6.   bp1
"He's rocking the Dorkasaurous Rex glasses and everything."


Gotta wonder how many of the old timers would have benefitted from things like lasik surgery and what not. Say what you want about "performance enhancing drugs", there have been a bunch of other medical advancements that have certainly helped players perform.

Hard for me to believe that a player can reach elite status with bad eyes. Mussina says his eyes are awful. How can a guy like Bernie bat with bad eyes? Amazing. Gotta have natural physical gifts the likes of which the rest of us can't imagine.


2006-06-13 08:15:24
7.   Alex Belth
I wouldn't get too riled up by the back page headlines. These guys are just trying to sell papers and let's face it, the Yankees falling off has been a potential story for years now. It's just a natural headline, Yanks fall, Mets rise. Prepare to see much more of this kind of thing. I'm not saying that what they are suggesting is accurate yet, but eventually, I'm sure the Yanks will go through a difficult period while the Mets are more successful. Then the papers will gear up for the "Return of the Yankees" columns and headlines. It's business, baby.
2006-06-13 08:37:23
8.   dianagramr
Alex: thanks for the links ... a nice write-up.

I also thought the Mets would shrivel up and die if Pedro went down, but in looking at the rest of the NL, I now think there aren't too many teams that could challenge the Mets for the NL crown, save for the Cards (if Carpenter, Edmonds and Pujols are 100%), Dodgers (if their SP stabilizes a bit) and Phillies (if they find a capable 4th/5th starter).

I still don't like having Reyes and LoDuca at the top of the line-up, but ...

2006-06-13 08:48:34
9.   yankz
If Glavine can keep it up (which I'm not positive he can), I can see the Mets going really far. At times this season I've thought that Beltran/Delgado/Wright can match up with any 3-4-5 in the game.
2006-06-13 08:52:11
10.   Rob Gee
7 But Alex, how can one recognize that business force, justify its pressure, and still contribute good, incisive journalism? There were also alot of those headlines at the beginning of last year too. There's a reason folks think of those papers as rags. The sports coverage isn't much ahead of the rest of the stuff and I rather it doesn't read like Page 6.

Instead of repeating the same tired template, why not use that forum more productively? Lead with a piece of different opinions on what's wrong with Unit. Why the Torre insists on certain guys for his bullpen slots. What the appearance of Erickson and Long mean for how the Yanks are really run. Why A-rod is just as clutch as the next guy. Maybe it's just me, but I give regular fans much more credit than the papers. Just because a guy or gal don't sit at a computer all days doesn't mean they don't want to be informed. Someone picking up the paper for the back page already knows the Mets are doing better than the Yanks. It's a non-story. Why not tell something worth telling instead?

BTW: I'm just as interested in how one can balance the force of access with the virtue of honest criticism. I can't imagine it's easy. Good thing there's good sign posts out there - too far one way is Lupica, too far the other is Gammons. I think Olney strikes a nice balance. Just my two cents.

2006-06-13 08:56:59
11.   ericw
The question of which NY team is better is a big deal for the NY baseball business.

It is a big deal to the fans given the frenzy at both parks during the annual regular season "subway series" games.

Its a big deal to the business of baseball also. Hard as it is to fathom given the Yankee dominance in attendance, headlines, fan base the last decade, it was not always this way. For 9 straight seasons from 84 - 92, the Mets outdrew the Yankees. Mainly due to the fact that the mets by and large had better teams those years. You can bet that Wilpon desperetaly wants to draw the high ratings like the Yankees do Yes for his SNY network to increase its ad revenues. You know from past experience how irritated Steinbrenner has gotten when the Mets have stolen the back pages.

Is it premature to declare the Queens baseball team kings of NY? Yes. Some will argue that until the Mets win their next WS before the Yankees, they can't be the champs, some will say that the Mets must finsh a season with the better record to get the title. All of it is really mythical, what will matter is who gets the fans and the dollars.

The sports tabloids has always been about instant gratification. it has always been about kicking the team when it is down and jumping on the winning team's bandwagon. Both teams get the same treatment. The papers had a grand time ripping into the Mets follies from 2001 - 2004 from their assistance in running Bobby V. out of town to their critisism of the Zambrano folly. Both teams get cast in the aura of the immediate past. No matter which team it is.

To some Yankee fans it does not matter, the Mets are irrelevant. However if the teams fortunes are reversed if you have to read article after article about how brilliant the Mets are while the Yankees get portrayed as the worst team money can buy your feelings about the Mets may change.

2006-06-13 09:03:31
12.   jkay
The last Mets "takeover" was going to be the 2000 WS. The Mets were favored to win and the media piled on with the takeover stories. The Mets have not been heard from since.
2006-06-13 09:06:41
13.   Schteeve
I have this dream in which the Yankees make the post season and Bernie hits a walk off to send us to the Series, and then hits a big two run double down the right field line to tie Game 6, which the Yankees come back to win.

And Bernie retires a hero and legend.

Also, when the Nicotine patch people say that vivid dreams are a side effect...they're not joking around.

2006-06-13 09:39:28
14.   bloodyank78
I just read that the Nationals have informed the Yankees that they are willing to trade Soriano if Phillip Hughes is included in the deal. Wonder what everyone's opinion is on that. If it actually did happen would it be LF- Soriano / CF -Damon / RF- Melky/Bernie Platoon?
2006-06-13 09:41:17
15.   Rob Gee
11 My only point is it's a tired non-story at this point. It may get attention on the newstand but baseball fans are not buying the paper to read what they already know. Why not be informative instead?
2006-06-13 09:43:25
16.   Count Zero
10 "But Alex, how can one recognize that business force, justify its pressure, and still contribute good, incisive journalism? There were also alot of those headlines at the beginning of last year too. There's a reason folks think of those papers as rags. The sports coverage isn't much ahead of the rest of the stuff and I rather it doesn't read like Page 6."

Mark Cuban had a nice blog posting along these lines last week.

To quote: "I realize its not really the reporters fault. Its the result of newsenomics. Or to paraphrase the masthead of a once great, now decent newspaper, "all the news we can now afford to find and print".

But the gist of his post is that newspapers don't get it because they have forgotten that the quality of Journalism actually matters more than anything else. His ideas are actually pretty insightful.

2006-06-13 09:52:05
17.   Bama Yankee
6 Good thought about the lasik surgery bp1. It also got me thinking about how some of the other medical advancements (i.e. Tommy John surgery, arthroscopic knee surgery, etc.) have benefited modern day players possibly more than performance enhancing drugs. The drugs may have enhanced performance, but without the operations a lot of careers would have been over prematurely. Imagine the numbers Mickey Mantle, Gale Sayers, Joe Namath & Pete Maravich might have put up if they could have had their knees fixed.
2006-06-13 09:52:06
18.   unpopster
14 ugh, please don't tell me that. As much as I enjoyed watching Soriano hit in a Yankee uniform, I do not want to see him back here in '06...especially for our #1 pitching prospect. He'll be a FA in the offseason and I would much rather see George spend the $$$ instead of the talent.

Plus, I'm not so sure that Soriano's out-of-this-world hitting in DC isn't the result of a change to a different league. Yes, I know that the NL is supposed to be a pitcher's league...but something tells me that a mid-2006 Soriano replay in the Bronx might be disastrous.

2006-06-13 09:56:15
19.   Rob Gee
14 Big mistake. Reasons:

1) Sori won't help them win the Serious. He may help get them to the post-season, but after that he crumbles under good pitching. Check post-season stats via retrosheet for evidence.

2) Corollary to #1 - Sori's numbers are inflated by the National League pitching. Any league in which Bronson Arroyo suddenly becomes a Cy Young contender is suspect.

3) Hughes is too great a price for a half-season rental. Hughes is 19 and pitching in AA after dominating High-A. Don't trade him and not for a suspect left fielder. Dontrelle Willis - Yes. Soriano - No.

4) The price to resign Sori is too high. The Yankees already have a $13mil LF and CF for each of the next three years - neither will be upholding the fielding part of that bargin by then. Where's Sori go and at what price next year?

Bottomline: No thanks at that price.

2006-06-13 10:00:38
20.   Sliced Bread
As much as soccer doesn't sell newspapers in the U-S, I would have guessed the NY rags would have used their backpages to rip Team USA's uninspired performance in the World Cup yesterday.

Instead, the News and Post both ran that as a banner headline above their splashy full-page anointments of the Mets as the kings of NY. Yawn. Whatevs.

I agree with Gee. The contrived "baseball kings of NY debate" is a snooze, and there are so many more interesting NY baseball stories that could capture the city's imagination, and tap into it's passion for the game.

14 That's an interesting development. As tempting as it is to plug Soriano's bat into tonight's lineup, I would only trade Hughes for another pitcher.

2006-06-13 10:01:40
21.   Bama Yankee
14 Unless Soriano learns to pitch, we don't need him. What would happen when Matsui comes back? I guess we could sit Soriano on the bench next to Andy Phillips...

The price for a "star" outfielder is too high. We should never trade young pitching for a free-swinging outfielder. Especially when the outfielder is bound to cool off and really has never played a full season in the outfield in the first place.

2006-06-13 10:02:58
22.   Alex Belth
I wouldn't give up Hughes for Soriano, especially not with Soriano being a free agent this winter and all. I loved Soriano, warts and all, when he was with the Yanks, but something tells me you can't go home again. I could be dead wrong about that but it's my hunch that if Soriano returned it wouldn't be pretty.

Let me ask you guys this: Would you include Hughes in a deal to get Dontrelle Willis?

2006-06-13 10:05:29
23.   Rob Gee
16 Thanks Count. I saw that. I'm not sure if it seeped in my mind, but I did appreciate it at the time. It's amazing what a few billion dollars can do - a championship basketball club, technology pioneer, and media critic!
2006-06-13 10:07:07
24.   YankeeInMichigan
No way on Soriano. When he's hot, he's incredible. But his inevitible slumps are long and intollerable.

I just noticed that Eric Duncan is slugging .765 in his first four games (19 AB) in Trenton. Great move demoting him. I am sure that the organization is under lots of preassure to fast-track a #1 pick. History may have turned out differently if the Yanks had sent Drew Henson back to AA after his first couple futile months at Columbus.

2006-06-13 10:11:55
25.   Rob Gee
22 It depends on what else is required but with just Duncan - absolutely.

Dontrelle Willis = 24 yo and lefty. If not for Rocket and the fact he plays for the Marlins, he wins the Cy and wins 25 games last year.

That's one of those no-brainer deals the GM specializes in.

2006-06-13 10:15:31
26.   Bama Yankee
24 I agree with you about Henson. Of course they would have had to move him to first base and he could also sit on the bench next to Andy Phillips and watch a gold glove shortstop play third with Cairo at short during Jeter's absence. Sorry for the return of my rant, but I'm sure you feel the same way about Drew (since you are from Michigan) that I feel about Andy (since I am from Alabama).
2006-06-13 10:38:53
27.   ericw
Soccer could have been the only other headline, but most people in NY who care about the world cup are rooting for a team other than the US team.

As far as the other headlines for baseball that Rob G mentioned. Most have been covered. A-Rod being booed has been done. Johnson's failures have been done to death. Putting Terence Long and Scott Erickson on a back cover would not sell any papers unless Erickson'w wife were with him topless.

2006-06-13 10:43:22
28.   Rob Gee
27 You missed my point. There are stories there that are interesting and compelling to even casual fans. But the rags don't do anything in depth.
2006-06-13 10:47:55
29.   Peter
I wouldn't give up Hughes for Willis. No one knows how Hughes will turn out, but he's got tremendous upside. I believe Cliff once said he has the potential to be the best homegrown pitcher since Guidry. I'd like to see the Yankees wait this one out.

D-Train's good but he's not doing as well this year, plus he's thrown a lot of innings so far in his short career. Additionally, there's not a particularly good track record for Marlins pitchers coming into the AL East. I wouldn't mind seeing him in pinstripes, though, just not at the cost of Hughes.

2006-06-13 10:51:20
30.   Jeteupthemiddle
24 Nope. To quote Rob Gee "any league where Bronson Arroyo is suddenly a Cy Young contender is suspect." For me, this not only applies to Soriano, but it (even moreso) applies to Dontrell Willis. He is having a subpar year (well the last time I checked anyway) and is pitching in a pitchers haven.

I doubt very much so that he could duplicate his career numbers in the AL...and more specifically, the AL East.

To be honest, I am quite happy that nearly every other contender could put together a better package for him.

2006-06-13 10:57:31
31.   Count Zero
22 Nope. D-Train has a history of running out of gas in September -- just when we would need him, and agree that he wouldn't look so hot in the AL.
2006-06-13 10:59:56
32.   BobbyBaseBall
22 No Dontrelle for all the reasons stated in the previous posts. Also, Willis always seems like he's one pitch away from his elbow flying off and landing in the vistor's dugout.
2006-06-13 11:20:25
33.   rbj
Put me on the "no" bandwagon. In addition to the others' comments, I just don't like his mechanics. To me, they scream "early career ending injury."
But if Florida wants, say, Small and Erickson, then sure.
2006-06-13 11:36:38
34.   YankeeInMichigan
26 I moved to Michigan at age 30, so the attachment is not an emotional one. However, I've been here long enough to appreciate the agony of a Wolverine QB biting the dust in Columbus.
2006-06-13 11:55:49
35.   unpopster
19 Rob Gee, though I already voiced my distaste for a Sori return in 2006, I should point out that post-season stats are only numbers -- if not for Mariano's bottom of the 9th meltdown in Game 7 of the 2001 WS, Soriano's shoestring homer off of Schilling would have been the game-winning and WS-winning hit.
2006-06-13 12:20:44
36.   Rob Gee
35 It's still just one hit. I wouldn't want Tino or Scotty back right now either. But there are other reasons too - the sum total for me means - no thanks.

The one argument against the postseason numbers is that you could say "But, he was so young then - he hadn't even reached his year 28 season. Now he knows better!". It's one of those great arguments cause there's no alternative evidence.

Even still, no thanks.

2006-06-13 12:30:50
37.   Rob Gee
35 I was just reading on Deadspin yesterday on how Luis G and his 56 homers in 2001 sure have a way of standing out now. I hadn't thought much abou it as we don't ever see him - but, boy, would that be the kicker if that bloop was helped by certain enhancements.
2006-06-13 12:50:12
38.   unpopster
37 yeah, but Giambi's two homers against Pedro in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS are sure tainted...aren't they?
2006-06-13 13:19:40
39.   Shaun P
22 No, no, and no. Hughes has unbelievable upside, as Peter points out 29. Anyone with a BP subscription should go look at to see what Hughes very well might be worth.

As for Sori - I'm a huge NO like most of you, for all the reasons you've already said. Let me add one thing - The dude is 30, and he's on pace to set career highs in every meaningful offensive category this year - numbers that are so far above and beyond what he's done before, they scream "fluke" so loudly mikeplugh can hear it in Japan.

The rags always advocate something like this, especially if a former Yank is involved. If Marcus Thames was better known, they'd be writing about how the Yanks should have never let him go. Rubbish.

2006-06-13 13:26:50
40.   Rob Gee
Going from 31 to 57 at age 33 is one thing.

But the Giambino actually started to show decline that year (.250 AVG) so it's a bit harder to argue he was helped any moreso - unless there's was never a year he wasn't getting help. Hard to gauge the effects in that case - blood testing now and similar performance would be the only combination to suggest no effect. Bummer all the way around.

Luis G on the other hand has never had a season like that one - before or since.

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