Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-10-13 13:33
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

The Yankee-Red Sox game was put off last night, but that didn't stop team executives, as well as the mayors of both New York and Boston from sounding like a bunch of clowns. Randy Levine, George Steinbrenner's highest ranking zhlub, continued to rant, and the Boston ownership defied a MLB order not to talk about Saturday's Game.

Oh, brother. Tom Boswell thinks that the people at the top of both organizations need to check themselves.

Mike Lupica weighs in on the mess today in the Daily News:

The Red Sox owners sure loved Selig when they wanted to get the Red Sox. Last night they spit in his eye and ought to be fined as big as Selig wants for trying the case in front of the media, at least until Rich Levin from the commissioner's office went into the interview room and shut them down, not a moment too soon. Later, Levine issued a press release in response to the Red Sox owners' press conference. Now you want Martinez to buzz him with a fastball.

The Yankees vs. the Red Sox had degenerated to that. I don't care whether Levine started it or not. Selig really ought to hand out fines to both sides and and then maybe tonight management people, ones who do not matter in this series the way their pathetic spin-doctoring about Saturday does not matter, can get out of the way and let us watch the game.

...But it is official that guys in suits are giving a terrible beating to a series between the Yankees and Red Sox we waited for all season. At least Zimmer was embarrassed.

Which brings us to ol' Popeye Zimmer, who made a brief appearance at the podium late in the afternoon. With Joe Torre by his side, Zimmer fought to control himself as he spoke. When the waterworks started to creep too close to the surface, Zimmer excused himself and walked away:

"I'm embarrassed for what happened. I'm embarrassed for the Yankees, the Red Sox, the fans, the umpires and my family."

As Joe Torre reached over to pat his friend gently on the back, Zimmer got up and said, "That's all I have to say, I'm sorry."

Zimmer later told Bill Madden:

"I'm not proud of what I did," Zimmer said. "I'm embarrassed for myself, for my family and for the Yankees. I wish I hadn't done it, but I did. It was a reaction to something that's been building up in me for more than a year. I have nothing but the highest respect for that Red Sox team. They're a tough, tough bunch. But that guy (Martinez), for all his ability as a pitcher, is unprofessional. I was sick and tired of him yelling all that trash-talk at us, especially at (Jorge) Posada, making fun of him from their dugout on days he wasn't pitching. He started it last year and he's never stopped. It's totally unprofessional.

"So when he threw at (Karim) Garcia's head, I just lost it. I'd had enough of him and his antics."

Red Sox owner John Henry appreciated Zimmer's words and added:

"I wouldn't mind seeing the same thing come from our side just as conciliatory."

Pedro Martinez, however didn't see a need to apologize:

"I wish no man has to apologize. It's not a good feeling to apologize," Martinez said last night. "I think it was just a matter of time (before) he realized what he means to baseball and what he is. ... I'm glad he realized it and am very happy for him and I'm glad he's OK."

..."If you look back at the whole incident, I don't see why he had so much (anger) with what went on in the game," Martinez said of Zimmer. "I'm trying to pitch and actually to get outs, because I needed outs at that point. I was the one in trouble. I didn't want to dig myself a bigger hole."

...Martinez later was asked about him pointing to his head during a heated exchange with Yanks catcher Jorge Posada as the benches cleared.

"I just said to him I remember everything he said, that's what I said to Posada," Martinez said. "I remember what you're saying to me. I don't want to express what he said. ... If you want to know what he said, go ask him."

Boston players admired Zimmer's gesture:

"We have a lot of respect for Don Zimmer. He's a great baseball guy," Kevin Millar said. "It's an awesome thing for him to do."

Added Jason Varitek: "Any man that admits when they're wrong is a man."

"I think it's great," Johnny Damon said. "Zimmer's a stand-up guy...I have the utmost respect for Don, and he's doing the right thing," Damon said of Zimmer. "I hope we can get an apology sent over to them. I don't think Pedro meant to hurt him, but it's his decision. If it was up to me, I would (apologize), but (Zimmer) wasn't coming after my life."

Martinez was fined $50,000, Ramirez $25,000, Karim Garcia $10,000, and Zimmer $5,000 for their parts in Saturday's hysteria. Boston players are being careful not to criticize Martinez but should the Sox lose this Serious, we may hear them sing a different tune. Dan Shaughnessy doesn't need to wait, and he lowers the boom on the petulant Martinez in today's Boston Globe:

Red Sox fans don't like to hear this, but Martínez was an embarrassment Saturday and a disgrace to baseball. He gets away with it because he's Pedro. And the Sox front office enables him, just as it does Manny Ramirez. Just as it did with Clemens when he was here and Carl Yastrzemski when he was here and Ted Williams when he was here.

The tail still wags the dog around here. The Red Sox have no control over their stars. That's the way it was for Clemens when he was here. He had to go elsewhere to grow up. And we all know it took a while.

...It's interesting that the $17-million, 14-game winner is always talking about respect, yet his actions provoke baseball people to lose respect for him. More now than ever. The stuff still plays pretty well when he throws those four-hit shutouts, but there haven't been many of those lately. His E.R.A. and strikeout ratios are still great, but he wore down in both Oakland games and had nothing when it counted against the Yanks. Do Red Sox fans still feel good about him as their Game 7 starter? Maybe. But not like before.

Tim Wakefield will replace John Burkett tonight, and Mike Mussina will get the nod for the Yankees. Boomer Wells will go tomorrow afternoon against Derek Lowe.

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