Flash of Yankee pride
Notes from around the majors, including Tom Gordon's perspective on being a current Yankee and former Red Sox.
While on the Red Sox's side of the rivalry, Gordon acknowledged that he felt the Yankees were a bit full of themselves, pompous and conceited. Now on the Yankees' side, he says it's merely pride and professionalism. He couldn't believe it when he got to spring training, and there just roaming around was Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson along with the pictures every where of DiMaggio, Mantle, Ruth, Gehrig. No franchise has as many all-time great players or parades them as proudly and as often. Johnny Peskey's still a presence in the Red Sox's clubhouse, and has been foolishly banned from their bench by Major League Baseball. Occasionally you'll see Luis Tiant stroll through. Jim Rice and Dennis Eckersley do broadcast work there. But where's Yastrzemski, Fisk, or other icons of Boston's past? I asked Gordon if he felt part of New York's unprecedented 26 world championships by putting on the pinstripes. He said, "No, not yet. Not 'til I get one of my own."
But it does allow for another sight. You can always tell the team's elite players by how they arrive that day. Most veterans take the second bus, sometimes arriving less than two hours before game time. The cream take a cab or limo in, and it's fun to see Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams walking together under Fenway in their stylish street clothes, and Bernie with his trademark guitar slung over his shoulder.
|Yankee roster decisions|
Joe Torre said he agonizes more over the 25th postseason roster spot than any other decision he makes, even the rotation or lineup. He may spend 24-hours with his staff deciding who the 15th player or 11th pitcher will be -- a player likely will never appear in a single game. Crosby's a strong possibility if Torre takes 10 pitchers as he'd like to do, but Kevin Brown's situation will probably dictate Torre's decision.
If you know anything about Brown, and his gruff, often isolated demeanor as well as the volatility that caused him to punch out a clubhouse wall after that Sept. 3 loss to Baltimore and lose, you would understand Torre's assessment of his discipline for his injured pitcher. Torre said he didn't have to say much to his highest-paid pitcher ... Brown took it upon himself to apologize to his teammates, and as Torre put it, "nothing could be harder on Kevin than that."
After his bullpen workouts at Fenway Park, Brown was asked if he'd be willing to pitch in relief. Brown said, "I will if I have to." He didn't have to, nor throw a simulated game, nor do a minor league rehab since there are no more minor league games. Why not test him for an inning in relief? Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, and Torre confirmed, Brown wanted to start. So they threw him out there Sunday and he got tattooed. But this way, they can see him one more time before the season ends.
By contrast, Jason Giambi missed the entire Red Sox series, save a meaningless pinch-hitting appearance, after hitting a home run this week that ended the longest hitless drought of his career. Torre's big on putting players in positions to succeed in, and with "Pedro, a knuckler, and Schilling going, we didn't want him to go backwards." Giambi's almost certain to sit out against Johan Santana this week, too, but he'll get some at-bats and be on the postseason roster. Giambi described that home run Tuesday against Toronto, like "coming out of a trainwreck," in contrast to the rest of this bizarre season. But he's happy to be healthy again, improving, and willing to do anything, even pinch-hit if that's what's asked of him. He called the standing ovation he got in Yankee Stadium after that home run the most satisfying of the many he's been called out for in New York and Oakland.
But Torre said don't read too much into Martinez's startling remarks that he doesn't want to face the Yankees again, and that they're "his daddy." Torre attributed it merely to the emotions of the moment right after the game and that he saw "two different Pedro's last Sunday and on Friday," one who threw all first-pitch fastballs, and the next one who started with changeups and curves. He expects Martinez is fully prepared for another meeting, although he allowed this about Pedro's peril, "I hope he feels that way, but it doesn't change how we feel about him, or about ourselves."
While there are many similarities, there are also contrasts. Even though she was in beau Tom Werner's owners box, Couric didn't want to do an in-game interview. She politely declined because, living and working in New York, Couric was sensitive to betraying allegiances, plus she would never hear the end of it from her fellow "'Today Show" staffers. Werner, with a bandage on his left hand, joked that it was a voodoo curse on Brown. Must have worked. In a white T-shirt, Couric was visually neutral, although she did note her true loyalties by pointing to her red watchband.
When I asked Shonda about her husband's propensity for not only listening to radio talk shows, but actually calling in, she said she quit trying to stop him in Arizona. She used to call in herself when she heard him, tell the station to put him on hold so she could talk to him, and try to get him to hang up. Shonda explains it is Curt's way of giving fans a unique perspective.
That's certainly true. No other player, especially of Schilling's stature, would even acknowledge he listens to those shows, let alone respond to what he hears on them. Last week's run-in with WEEI substitute host Butch Stearns was to refute that there's friction between Schilling and Pedro Martinez, as exhibited by the contention that Pedro doesn't hug him during the postgame victory line. Stearns stands by his sources, and similar stories of jealousy and discord surfaced in Arizona about Schilling and Randy Johnson. In fact, when Johnson's wife Lisa heard about this latest flap, she called her close friend Shonda and sympathized, "I see they're doing it to you all over again in Boston."
On Sunday, Sept. 19, Roberts and his wife Tricia decided to induce labor back in Boston, as soon as the Yankees series ended in New York. Schilling arranged for his jet to whisk Roberts back to Boston, where his wife would already be in labor. He arrived in time for the birth of 7-pound Emerson Faith Roberts. They picked that time so Tricia would be far enough past delivery to fly home to San Diego on Oct. 5, and because Dave would be at home all week, before the season ending weeklong road trip and playoffs. The birth was four years to the day after Roberts first went inside the fabled Green Monster.
As a member of the Indians, he added his signature to all the others immortalized in that dark, cramped, landmark, and added the initials C.D.R., 9/19/00. Three weeks later their first child, Cole David was born. This summer, in Robert's first month as a Red Sox, he took Cole for his first visit in the wall, to see where his dad had signed. Roberts had forgotten about the initials etched on the wall, and was overwhelmed to show Cole how his dad had dedicated the inscription to him, before he was born.
Gary Miller is a reporter and play-by-play announcer for ESPN's major league baseball coverage.
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