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Wednesday, March 5, 2003
Updated: March 7, 9:17 AM ET
Bronx bookworms

By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Ever wonder what it's like to be in a major league clubhouse? Thanks to the Yankees, you don't have to wonder -- they'll tell you.

From Jim Bouton to Sparky Lyle to David Wells, Yankees past and present have always delivered the inside skinny with their tell-all books. In fact, there are so many that we not only can get one player's behind-the-scenes view of what happened during the season's biggest moments, we can get multiple players' takes on the most routine days inside the clubhouse as well.

From David Wells' "Perfect I'm Not! Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball"

The thing I notice each spring is what terrific shape the players report to camp in. A lot of that is due to hard work but a lot of it is also because of steroids. I would say at least 40 percent to 25 percent of all players regularly use steroids. The figure would be even higher than 20 percent, if it weren't for the fact that no one on the Yankees has ever used them -- in the past or in the future. And 15 percent is a conservative estimate. It's probably really more like 10 percent. Or even lower, depending on what edition you're reading.

The Yankees probably won't like me saying that and they'll let me hear about it. I love wearing the pinstripes, but sometimes the team drives me nuts with the double-standards they have. Like, they're always calling me in for a lecture just because I like to party every now and then. Well, I'm sorry. It works for me, and if conditioning is so important, then how come none of our sober pitchers threw no-hitters last year?

Bronx Zoo
It's spring and the Bronx Zoo is open for business ...
Meanwhile, Derek Jeter gets all hot and bothered when Steinbrenner dared to give him a little criticism this winter. Give me a break. The team always goes out of its way to genuflect and kiss his ass. He farts and everyone glares at me.

It's like this morning, when he showed up without his glove. If that happened to me, it would be a headline in every paper. But not Mr. Perfect. He said he had no idea where it was and everyone acted like it was no big deal. I bet he left it under the bed of that Miss Universe I saw him with the other night.

Bronx Zoo
... these creatures may look hungry ...
Hubba-hubba, now that's some dame!

From Derek Jeter's "Almost Perfect She Was! Derek on Beauties, Knockouts, Hotties and Birthday Bashes"

I take a great deal of pride in my work ethic, and that's why it hurt so much to hear Mr. Steinbrenner criticize me this winter. No, I didn't have the type of season I envisioned at the plate, and I'm as disappointed as anyone that we didn't reach the World Series. But to say that I let my off-the-field life be a distraction? That's just not true.

The fact is, I live a pretty boring life. Contrary to what you hear and read, I don't date beautiful women every night. I usually go home from a game, drink a glass of warm milk, listen to self-improvement tapes and go right to bed. The only reason you see pictures of me with so many different girls is because I'm still trying to find that special someone to share the rest of my life with. I'm looking for someone who adores children and puppies, enjoys long walks on the beach at sunset, volunteers with senior citizens and the handicapped and loves baseball as much as I do.

Bronx Zoo
... they are, but please don't feed the bears.
That's why it bothered me so much this morning when I couldn't find my glove. You see, I consider myself the team leader (even if I'm not "officially" the team captain), so I make sure I always set a good example. The first thing I do when I arrive at 5:30 each morning is carefully oil my glove. Then I hang it in my locker while I go run seven miles. I know I did it the same as usual this morning, because I checked it off on my Franklin Planner. But when I came back from my hour on the Stair-Master, it was missing.

I don't know where it could have gone. I mean, we released Ruben Rivera last year, right?

From George Steinbrenner's "Perfect You're Not: The Boss on Losers, Whiners, Screwups and Other Yankees Destined for Unemployment"

We've now gone 830 days since winning the World Series, and I'm not going to tolerate it any longer. Yes, Joe has won four championships since taking over as manager. But he's also failed to win three world championships, and I'm getting tired of it.

Take Derek. He spent last season partying with beautiful babes to all hours of the night when he should have been home in bed, and his performance reflected it. His batting average dropped to a revolting .297 and his home runs dropped to a nauseating 18. It's bad enough to have to share all my money with those loser small-market teams, but then to give it to players who don't produce? What I wouldn't give to have Bucky Dent again!

I can understand how a young man wants to unwind after a game, but when I read in the papers about him being out on the town at 3 a.m. in violation of Joe's curfew, well, frankly, I get a little concerned. And that's why I let him know I was disappointed and expected better things from him if he wants to be captain.

Unfortunately, it appears Derek didn't learn a thing from my constructive criticism over the winter. He showed up at practice today without his glove. These stories are getting a little old. Obviously, he must have been out late carousing again last night -- probably with David -- got drunk and forgot where he put it.

I think it's time to give my old friend Howie Spira a call.

From Don Zimmer's "A Perfect Beauty I'm Not! Zim on Looks, Life, Age and Baseball"

Derek showed up this morning without his glove, which reminded me of an old teammate I played with on the old St. Paul Saints in the old American Association. Shortstop named Bill Bottoms. Always played without a glove. We called him Calluses. It was the goofiest thing you ever saw, but damn if he didn't scoop up every ball hit to him. Backhand stops. Leaping grabs. Diving stops. Left hand or right hand, didn't matter. He caught everything. Best fielder I ever saw, with or without a glove. 'Course, he never made the big club, because the old Saints were the farm club of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Pee Wee Reese had shortstop locked up. Heck, back in those days, the whole Dodgers big league roster was set each year practically by Martin Luther King Day. Except now that I think about it, I don't think we celebrated it back then, because nobody had heard of the man yet.

Boy, those were different times. I could tell you some stories.

From Joe Torre's "Perfect None of Us Are! Joe on Turning Rookies, Veterans, Free Agents and Fat Boozers into Champions"

Yes, managing the Yankees can be a demanding job. The media is very quick to latch onto any minor thing and turn it into a distracting full-blown controversy. For instance, too many people are bent out of shape about David's new book and his claim that he was half-drunk when he threw his perfect game. That's not helpful to anyone. Obstacles are what you see when you lose sight of your goal, so the key is to handle controversy as quickly and privately as possible while emphasizing the positive. That's why when I called David into my office to discuss his new book, I made certain to first compliment him on being half-sober.

And that's how I approached this morning's little incident with Derek, too. When he said he couldn't find his glove anywhere, I believed him. No one works harder or prepares himself better than Derek. That missing glove could have thrown our whole practice schedule off, but instead I simply had our equipment manager get him another one. He got Derek a new one in less than two minutes. And Derek said thank you, too, because that's the kind of kid Derek is.

Then we were back on the field like nothing ever happened and worked on our "Everyone run out and pile on the mound to celebrate the world championship" fundamental drills.

From Hideki Matsui's "Perfect I Am Striving to Be! Godzilla on Japan, America, Language and Baseball"

In baseball and in life, the team is most important. All must put aside individual pursuits to devote themselves wholly to the team. That is why when Jeter-san lost his glove this morning, I humbly offered my own to him, even though I have worn it religiously since childhood, when I stitched it together with my father from supple leather taken from the finest Kobe cattle. Fortunately, Jeter-san did not need it, because the Yankees equipment manager had another glove available.

Oh, the glories of the great Yankees organization! And to think I am now a part of it. I must strive to make myself worthy of such an honor!

From Roger Clemens' "Perfectly Possesed! The Rocket on Fear, Brushbacks, Headaches and Beanballs"

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy....

From Ruben Rivera's "Near Perfect Condition It Is! Ruben's Spring Catalogue of Game-Used Gloves, Bats, Balls and Hub Caps"

Just acquired! After a great amount of wheeling and dealing, I can now offer another Derek Jeter game-used glove! Act quickly, this beauty won't last long, and I don't know how long it will take to obtain another one! Minimum bid: $3,500.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.