|Will Middlebrooks – Spring Training 2009. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net. Used with permission. (Watermark added by me just to see how it looks!)|
On September 9, 1988, the Cleveland Indians played the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Sox won that game 7-4. Mike Boddiker was the winning pitcher and Lee Smith got the save. (And, interestingly enough, the DH for the Indians that night? Terry Francona.) I was two years removed from high school and while I don’t remember where I was that night, it’s a fair guess that I was watching this game.
Meanwhile, on that same date in Texarkana, Texas, Will Middlebrooks was being born. Jesus, I was 19 then. I feel old. (Totally by coincidence, also on this same date: Kyle Snyder turned 11. I put this in here because I anticipate one or two people who know me pointing this out and I figured I’d beat you to the punch!)
Last year, Will played third for the Lowell Spinners. I was fortunate enough to see him play a handful of times. My first game at Lowell, last year, I chose him as my player to watch (full disclosure: we were there to see Kyle pitch but that night he ended up not being there). As I’ve stated before, picking a favorite just seems to happen. Before I got to that first game, I didn’t know who he was. We got there early enough to see him on the field and I decided to keep an eye on him. He’s relatively big (lists at 6’3 and 200 lbs) but he moves well on his feet. So I was intrigued. Then I saw him interacting with some young fans and I was hooked. I’m a sucker for a ballplayer who doesn’t forget the fans, especially one that makes the kids feel special, and I think honing those particular skills in the minors is as important as anything else. So I decide Will’s my player for the game and we wait for the excitement to begin.
In that game, Will struck out twice and made three errors, one which caused manager Gary DiSarcina to reprimand him all the way from his spot coaching first base using only violent sign language. I can’t do it justice. He was literally jumping up and down and waving angrily at Middlebrooks for not being positioned properly. Of course, this only intensified my desire for the kid to do well. At the end of that game (which was at the beginning of July), Will was batting .167. He went on to struggle for a while and then picked it up during the last month of the season. His season-ending stats might not have been stellar, but they were pretty damn good for someone who struggled as Will did to begin the season (especially considering that Lowell is a short-season team:
So Will’s on my list of players to keep an eye on. Hey, Mike Lowell isn’t going to be manning third forever and I much prefer Kevin Youkilis at first, so it doesn’t hurt to be on the lookout for new blood. This, of course, will only reinforce my friend Donna’s belief that I have “something” for players from Texas. (And will open up our discussion again about whether or not Kyle Snyder identifies himself as a Texan. Yes, we actually discuss such things.)
For the record, I don’t like Middlebrooks because he’s from Texas. I like him because he’s has a strong arm, decent moves on the field and a good bat when he’s feeling comfortable out there, (In an interview with Sox Prospects at the end of last season, Will admitted: “ I was real tense at the plate, trying to do a little too much, and not staying within myself.”.) and he’s twenty years old. That last one being important only in it gives him some time to make those adjustments and grow into a player who can, down the road, really help the Red Sox.
After deciding to follow Will’s progress, the highlight of his season came at the “Futures at Fenway” game in August. Will went 3 for 6 (the game went into extra innings) with a double and 3 RBI. With the scored tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 12th and the bases loaded with two outs, Will came up to bat and lined a single to center that scored Mitch Dening and won the game. Not too shabby.
The photo was the catalyst for this entry. Kelly O’Connor is spending the week in Ft Myers and she tries to spend as much time at the Minor League complex as she does watching the Major League guys. The complexes being apart makes it tough to jockey back and forth, but Kelly thinks it’s worth it. So do I. I’m a big proponent of paying attention to the guys coming up – and the guys hoping to come up who might never get that chance.
I’ll admit, I will always prefer following the Red Sox and Major League Baseball, but following the Minor League teams has its advantages too. We’re so fortunate in New England that we have all the options we do to see live baseball. So when the season starts and you begin to lament not being able to go to Fenway for whatever reasons, remember there are other places you can go to see fun and exciting baseball. The Minor League parks are more intimate. The games are less expensive (as are the food and beverages) and you might just see the next Jonathan Papelbon or Hanley Ramirez while you’re there.
|Kyle Snyder today pitching against the Marlins in the 9th inning – screengrabbed by me.
Here’s a comment someone left today on a Red Sox blog I frequent:
Yeah, yeah, us Yankee fans won today, 5-1. HaHa! What’s the matter? Can’t take it?
Let’s see, the Red Sox lost the first two games of the Grapefruit League and the Yankees won their first two. Should we start printing the “2009 AL East Champions” shirts for the Bronx now? Somehow, I think not.
Granted, even in a Spring Training game I hate to see the Sox lose the way they did today (going into the 9th up 2-0 and losing 3-2) but even I won’t start wringing my hands just yet.
I’m happy with how the pitching looks thus far but oddly enough (giving my fondness for pitchers), my interest really is with how this shortstop competition will work out. I’ll be the first to admit that last year I was thisclose to hiring someone to take out Julio Lugo’s knee Nancy Kerrigan style before he got hurt (and then again when it looked like he just might be back for the end of the season). But, honestly, as much as I really want Jed Lowrie to stay up with the big team and be successful, I’d absolutely love to see Lugo dominate and this year. So I have no horse in this race. I want them both to succeed. I want them to make it practically impossible for Tito to make the decision on which player gets to start.
I had MLB.tv on at the office today listening to the Mets/Marlins game, waiting for Kyle Snyder to get into the game. He pitched the ninth inning, giving up one hit (a double) and no runs to close out the game. (The Mets are 2-0.) I did take the time to actually watch his part of the game. He looked good. And I mean that in every way that applies. He looked relaxed, he wasn’t wincing, he didn’t look tired or tight, there was no reaching for a sore spot…and for those lamenting his lack of curls in his Photo Day picture, they’re there…just a little shorter than usual. Again, he looked good. It was encouraging to see given how up and down last year was for Kyle. I hope this outing is a harbinger of good things to come for him this year.
Friday brings more baseball! Sox play Tampa Bay at 1:05pm. See, this is a game I want them to win. My brief illness messed with my schedule this week, so I’l be in the office on Friday listening through MLB.com. Bronson Arroyo also pitches his first real game this spring at 1:05pm on Friday. It’ll be interesting switching back and forth while also being productive.
|Photo from Newsweek. It wouldn’t surprise me if you see many of these at Fenway in April.|
I’m cranky and I’m tired. Not really a good mix.
Both are mostly due to still feeling crappy and not being able to just hide in bed. Having to actually contribute to society when I feel like death is no fun. So I’m watching live Red Sox baseball – which doesn’t suck -to perk me up, but I’m still a little crabby. Let me rant a bit, won’t you?
Is it Barry or Elliot? It’s Elliot right? He’s the one doing the Jordan’s Furniture commercials? He’s the guy on tv standing in a snowy Fenway Park and telling people who are watching a Spring Training game in February on NESN that he knows we “aren’t thinking about baseball”. Brad Wilkerson committed an error tonight and I heckled him. First official game of Spring Training and I yelled at him. Something about throwing like my grandmother. I don’t remember exactly what I said. Does Elliot really believe we aren’t thinking about baseball? Who approves copy like that?
Speaking of Brad Wilkerson…guess who has his own website? He hasn’t updated it since the beginning of 2008, though. We should get on him to blog. Really blog, not that fake stuff Youk did with MLB. No phone interviews with someone else transcribing and writing the blog. We need to get at least one active Red Sox player to keep a real blog. How cool would it be to have Javier Lopez on Blogger after a bad game writing about how he wanted to throw a fastball at the jerk behind home plate heckling him all night? Maybe Dustin Pedroia writing about how he had to take the long way home to lose the stalkers following him from the park? This is the stuff I want to read.
Watching this game I realize it doesn’t bother me too much that the Sox are losing so I just must have unconsciously chosen poor Brad Wilkerson to beat up. It wasn’t a horrible throw either (even though he got an error for it). I’m a lot more rational now than when I first got home. I must be feeling better!
“I think the anticipation [for the first Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway] is heightened because of what’s going on with A-Rod,” Crawford said. “But it’s even more heightened because of Mark Teixeira.”
Huh? Okay, maybe I’m totally out of the loop. It’s possible. It isn’t like I spend the majority of my time reading about the Red Sox, writing about the Red Sox, talking about the Red Sox and picking the brains of Red Sox fans. Oh wait, I kind of do. I haven’t read or heard one word mentioned about Mark Teixeira since the Slappy stuff broke. No one seems to care. Sure, sure, once the season starts and the Yanks show up, he’ll be getting the obligatory boos for selling his soul to the Steinbrenners. That’s a given. But I know people who are planning things to do before that first Yankees/Sox game at Fenway. People planning to make anti-A*Rod shirts, people planning to hand out anti-A*Rod posters, people trying to figure out how to torture Slappy for nine straight innings. I haven’t heard of one Red Sox fan looking for creative ways to make Mark Teixeira miserable upon his first visit to Fenway in pinstripes.
I’m sure Rob Crawford is a nice guy and I really don’t mean to pick on him. But I don’t remember reading quotes from him in Newsday last year. I think it’s great that he’s getting some publicity outside Boston, good for him. I just wish his comments actually DID reflect those of most Red Sox fans since he’s supposed to be representing us.
Highlight of this evening has been listening to Brian Daubach alongside Don Orsillo tonight. I hope Jerry Remy is feeling better sooner rather than later, but Brian Daubach has done quite the job of entertaining us tonight and it was great to hear him. Keep him in mind, NESN, that’s all I’m saying.
I’m watching MLB Tonight right now…apparently they think A*Rod hitting a home run today took “a monkey off his back”. Oookay. Get back to me when Selena Roberts’ book comes out, fellas.
I was one of those people who absolutely did not believe Spring Training games would begin without Manny Ramirez having a job. Color me wrong. Won’t be the last time I’m wrong this season but I certainly didn’t think this one would be where I was wrong. Might not be the case for long, though, since the Dodgers made another offer.
The Dodgers have made another offer to Manny Ramirez, a two-year deal calling for $25 million this season and $20 million for the next — providing the slugger chooses to exercise the second-year option.
The player option on the second year came at the request of Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras, said a source with knowledge of the situation who did not have authority to speak publicly.
Now I know collusion was brought up by Barry Bonds last year and I dismissed it. My belief was, Bonds is an ass, and he brings a lot of LEGAL baggage with him, so no one wanted him. Collusion didn’t have to factor in. But I’m wondering what the deal is here. Manny’s a great player albeit a pain in the backside. Was there really not one other team, aside from the Dodgers, who wanted him with them? I suppose it’s entirely possible that they looked at Theo Epstein cutting him loose and thought that there was something more serious behind it. It’ll be interesting to see this pan out.
Afternoon baseball Thursday! Unfortunately, the Red Sox/Pirates game isn’t available anywhere. Not on NESN, MBLN, Gameday Audio and not on MLB.tv. So we’ll have to rely on the scoreboard updates from mlb.com (which were totally unreliable today). Fortunately, for me, the Mets game is on both Gameday Audio AND MLB.tv. Fortunate because Kyle is supposed to pitch during the game. It’ll be good to catch a peek and see how he’s looking out there.
Home today with nothing to do but stay in bed and hope this stupid virus, or whatever it is, goes away soon. So I have the MLB Network on for the better part of the day. Numerous viewings of their “MLB Tonight” show as well as their “Prime 9” shows. Over and over and over again. (So once the regular season begins, we get actual games during the day, right?) In the midst of these repeated showings, though, is a game from 1981. White Sox at Red Sox. Carlton Fisk’s first game back at Fenway. I’m sure, if this game was on television, I watched it (MLBN’s version is the White Sox feed. Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall.) but I don’t have a clear memory of it so it was fun to watch parts of it. (Not so much fun? Red Sox lost 5-3.) Interesting was the fans reactions. Lots of cheers, for sure, but as Piersall and Caray were talking about all the fans cheering and giving Pudge a standing ovation, the cameras caught many fans NOT standing or cheering for Fisk. He certainly got more cheers than boos, but those boos were loud enough for audio equipment from 1981 to pick them up. I don’t know if I know anyone who was at that game (my friends Dori and Dale come to mind as possibilities – let me know ladies!) but I wonder if, given that the Red Sox lost the game, if the fans there look at that game as being something special? Something they’re happy to have witnessed in person. The loss wold ruin he entire thing for me. So thinking about all the times I’ve been at a game where a beloved ex-Sox player returned, I figured I’d reflect on the three best here. Why not?
|Kevin Millar returns to Fenway. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net. Used with permission.|
* Kevin Millar returns as an Oriole: May 5, 2006. I bought the tickets at the beginning of the season specifically because I wanted to see Millar. I had no idea if he’d be starting, but I wanted to at least see him. My friend Pam, who was with me the first time I met Millar back in 2003, was with me and we both were genuinely excited about seeing him. I remember not really focusing on caring about who won the game. I mean, I always want the Sox to win, but that night I just wanted to see Kevin – and I especially wanted to see how the fans treated him. I wasn’t disappointed, neither with the game nor the treatment of Millar. He got a hit in his first at bat, eliciting some good-natured boos from the fans – but he was cheered every time he was announced that night and the park was littered with people wearing Millar jerseys and t-shirts (including me!). But the best part of the night was Mike Lowell. It was pretty fitting, actually. Lowell made an amazing catch in the first inning (basically diving into the ground and stealing the ball from Tek), he stole a base and he hit three doubles. Mike Lowell made me realize quickly that night that I DID care about which team won the game. (The Sox did, 6-3!)
|Dave Roberts returns to Fenway. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net. Used with permission.|
* Dave Roberts returns as a Giant: June 15, 2007. There’s no question that I wanted the Sox to win this game. My blog entry that day read, in part, “Dave is the main reason I bought the ticket for the game tonight. Having written that, I hope my boys destroy his team.” I was past excited at the idea of seeing Dave Roberts again. I literally cried when they introduced him. I was so struck by the sight of him and the memory of what he helped accomplish, that it took a bit of the sting away from the sea of Barry Bonds jerseys around me. Dave Roberts will always have the ability to bring me to tears without doing anything. The party line you hear in Boston is that Dave Roberts will never have to buy himself a drink when he’s in Boston. I’ll tell you what, if he asked me to, I’d take someone out for him. What? He’s a nice guy, he’d never ask. Oh, and incidentally, Sox won this one too: 10-2.
|Pedro returns to Fenway. Photo taken by me!|
* Pedro Martinez returns as a Met: June 28, 2006. I had to be at this one. Absolutely had to be there. I sat in the bleachers, under the scoreboard. UNDER it. And because I knew I wouldn’t be able to see much during the game, I made sure I got there early for BP. I brought a friend from work and the two of us parked ourselves as close as we could so we would get a good view of Pedro when he walked across the field to warm up. I don’t have to explain to most Red Sox fans what Pedro meant to me when he was with the team. When he didn’t re-sign with the Sox, I was sad but not mad. Pedro made it clear he was looking for the big payday and long-term contract. I was pleased he didn’t go to that other team in New York, so there were no hard feelings that he came back to Boston in Mets colors. Being the emotional sort, I cried when he came out and I cried when they announced him and I cried when he took the mound (I also cheered each time). But after the tears, I wanted the Sox to knock him around…and they did (10-2).
The two most vivid memories from that night: Finding out that Peter Gammons had an aneurysm blew me away and took some of the thrill out of the evening. One of my parents had a brain aneurysm burst when I was in grammar school and, thankfully, fully recovered. But it’s still frightening and confusing and, as much as Gammons pisses me off on almost a daily basis these days, I felt like someone punched me in the stomach when I heard he fell ill. My other strong memory was getting a text message during my ride home telling me that Pedro said he didn’t care about the outcome of the game, he just cared about the fan reaction. That was vintage Pedro for you. I was sorry to see him get as beat up as he did…but I still felt like I got the best of both worlds. We got to show Pedro we still loved him and then we got to show the Mets which was the better team.
Wednesday at 7pm, MLB.tv, MLB Network and NESN will all be airing the first Red Sox/Twins spring training game of the new season. If you are near a computer or television at 7pm, you have many options to check out the team for the first time this year!
|Photo day for the Mets was today! Getty Images didn’t disappoint – at least they posted ONE of Kyle and it’s good one! Photo taken by Doug Benc.|
Getting updates today on intrasquad games made me happy and I needed to be made happy. After dodging the illness bullet for as long as I could, today I succumbed just a bit so I needed SOMETHING to get me going.
Kyle Snyder got some real pitching in today. Two innings. His first inning was 1-2-3 (caught Ramon Martinez looking, Ryan Church grounded out and Nick Evans struck out swinging). His second inning he gave up a single to Brian Schneider. So that made me happy as well. (Oddly enough, for all my complaining about not getting Kyle info, when I finally DO get some, it’s incomplete. I have no idea how the three outs in his second inning were made and, yes, this is information I find interesting.) Tuesday night the MLBN focuses on the Mets on their 30 days/30 teams show. So I’m eagerly awaiting that!
|Clay Buchholz at Spring Training in 2008. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net Used with permission.|
When you’re going through a bad time, do people repeatedly tell you how much you suck or do they try to build you up? Most people I know go out of their way to make me feel better and not remind me of my shortcomings and failings. But I’m not Clay Buchholz.
Now Clay Buchholz makes a decent paycheck for playing a game. Even when he’s struggling, he rakes in the bucks. (His signing bonus was $800,000 and he makes league minimum right now – $400,000, I believe.) So it might be tough for folks to garner sympathy for him. But take away the money for a minute and think about what’s gone on with him since September of 2007.
When he was 23 years old he threw a no-hitter in his second MLB appearance. He then went on to not exactly impress the masses. The reason I don’t get into detail is because you can find that anywhere you look on the Internet. How many different ways could the writers tell Clay (or remind us) how much he stunk in 2008?
I know it’s tough to craft a story about Buchholz’ hopeful “comeback” without pointing out how mind-numbingly frustrating 2008 was for him – and for those of us watching him – but they certainly don’t mince words do they? Why not just ask him flat-out what it was like to suck?
I hope he gets off to a strong start this week and keeps it up throughout the season. Anything less and the media might beat him to death with his failures.
|The only 2009 Photo Day photo I’ve found that I like. (When is Photo Day for the Mets?) Photo taken by Chris Graythen /Getty Images. I try not to use these photos but am making an exception today. I promise I won’t make a habit of it!|
According to Chris Forsberg over at boston.com, today is photo day for the Red Sox. I love photo day. Not only is that the day they take the still photos that will be used for the year (I’m a sucker for racing to redsox.com when they put up the new headshots every year) but it’s also when they record the videos you see on the scoreboard during the game. (“And in the nine-spot, there is NO SMOKING at Fenway Park“). I love that stuff. Every year I think about writing to the Red Sox to see if I can get a copy of those videos somehow. I think it would make for interesting viewing. But I’ve never gotten off my butt and done it so I don’t imagine I will this year either.
I wonder how long taking all the photos and shooting the videos runs them? Forsberg writes that the media doesn’t have the same access this morning as they usually do…and he also writes that the Sox will take the field at 9am for their “normal” practice session. So what time do they make the players show up to do all this, 7am? That would suck the fun right out of it for me.
Quick note on Kyle Snyder…still no updates but the Mets have announced their pitchers for next week and on Tuesday he’ll throw two innings in an intrasquad game and then on Thursday he’ll be one of 7 pitchers going against the Marlins. Sending PVs Kyle’s way that he pitches well and stays healthy.
I had considered writing about the schadenfreude that is A*Rod right now. And, don’t get me wrong, it’s at the point where I’m now enjoying the unraveling going on here. After that performance the other day, he deserves all the bad that falls upon him. (But, hey, the fans are still supporting him. The same fans who can boo Jeter for going through a bad spell are bringing signs to Spring Training games showing Slappy how much they love him.) The problem is, you can’t just glance over the stories about A*Rod and this trainer without looking at the other names of the players attached to him. Granted, training with the guy and having him secretly travel around with you are two VERY different situations. But I’m not going to just bury my head in the sand and not acknowledge that the Papi (and Pedro) connection bothers me, because it does. A lot. Papi is doing a lot of denying right now. And with no proof of anything but their working out together, I’ll take him at his word. That doesn’t mean I’m not uneasy about the whole thing.
Vice President of Red Sox Nation, Rob Crawford was quoted by Newsday for the story I linked:
We could take it if any other Red Sox players were on the [2003 list of 104 players who failed the survey test]. But if David Ortiz was on it, that would suck all of the wind out of us.”
I understand this guy won his title by a vote, but in this case he certainly doesn’t speak for me. If I saw Pedro’s name on that list, or Bill Mueller’s , or Kevin Millar’s, or Mike Timlin’s, or Trot Nixon’s or Jason Varitek’s or probably just about any other guy from that 2003 team, even (especially?) Manny’s, I’d be devastated. It would be a sucker-punch to the gut. You can’t say “Oh steroids is bad” in one breathe and then say “But it’s okay if SOME of my guys were doing it” in the next. And, with all due respect to Papi, Mr. Crawford is sadly mistaken if he thinks Papi’s usage would be a bigger disappointment than Pedro’s. His return to Fenway with the Mets is proof that the Nation still adores him. Personally, outing Pedro as a steroid user would be a much more difficult story to deal with than outing Papi. Here’s hoping the only guy from the 2003 team to test positive was Jeremy Giambi. 🙂 (Though, I’m not holding out much hope for that.)
Hope everyone gets to enjoy a quiet, uneventful Sunday. Those are my favorite kinds!
|Rocco Baldelli is a front-runner for my favorite this season. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net. Used with permission.|
After I posted the photo of Kyle Snyder last night, it occurred to me that I don’t have a “favorite” player, yet, on this year’s Red Sox team.
I don’t know how it works for everyone else. Do you watch a game, see a player make a fabulous play or pitch a great game and decide “That’s the guy. He’s my favorite!”? It doesn’t work that way for me. I know a lot of people actually shy away from even having a favorite. Support the whole team and that’s the end of it. That doesn’t work for me either. I do support the entire team. When push comes to shove I almost always go along with what’s best for the team not with what’s best for the individuals. But I’m only human and I’m driven by my emotions. I don’t really choose a favorite player as much as they choose me.
Listen, I’ve never been shy about saying that certain players are attractive. And I’ll never deny that, when I started watching the Red Sox, the cuteness of Fred Lynn is what kept me coming back game after game. But that only takes you so far. Hell, I can’t deny that Jacoby Ellsbury is a good-looking guy. I’m pretty sure that people who can’t see even know he’s a looker. But it doesn’t change how I feel about him. I don’t consider him a ‘favorite’. I like him. I want him to do well. None of that means he automatically falls into favored status because he’s pretty. Pretty doesn’t hurt, mind you, but it isn’t the end all for me. This is where I state, again, that I enjoy being a straight woman who is also a baseball fan. I love baseball. I don’t care who is playing, I love watching the game of baseball. But I also get the added benefit of watching good-looking guys play a game I love. It’s a win-win. You guys who feel the need to ogle the Heidi Watneys of the world can’t give me grief for finding more than one way to enjoy a baseball game.
One of the ways I enjoy the game is by having some favorites. I still watch Bronson Arroyo in Cincinnati and I’ll be watching Kyle whether he’s playing with the Mets or the Buffalo Bisons, but that doesn’t help with Boston. Mike Lowell, David Ortiz and Hideki Okajima (also known as the three guys in my banner) are some of my long-term favorites. Guys you have to love for the way they play the game. I feel that way about most of the team. But I still am looking for that one guy who I see and think “Man, I hope it’s his year!”. Part of me thinks Rocco Baldelli will be that guy but it hasn’t clicked yet. Maybe I’m looking too hard before a game has even been played. I’ll have to revisit this next Wednesday night after NESN has aired their first Spring Training game.
I haven’t been able to get any info on how Kyle Snyder is faring thus far at the Mets camp…but at least I found a photo of him. It’s the little things that make me happy. He looks good (if you can judge such things from one photo) and I hope he’s doing well. Mets fans, throw me a bone and let me know, huh? (See, this is what the difference is with the Red Sox coverage – I could probably find a story or at least SOME information on just about every guy at Sox camp. Get on the ball Mets media!)
|Yankees last year at Fenway. Six men on the mound. Six. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net Used with permission.|
I finished reading “The Yankee Years” today. I’m having trouble figuring out how I want to break this down there’s just so much to cover. So, once again, I’ll be a little all over the place.
I think I figured out why Joe Torre gets the lead writing credit on the book. Although it’s obviously written by Tom Verducci and any of Torre’s contributions seem to come in the form of direct quotes, there isn’t one negative word about Torre in the entire 482 (including “Acknowledgments”) pages. More than once we’re told that Torre tells George Steinbrenner that all he wants is to make Steinbrenner “proud”. We repeatedly read about how he always had his players backs (as he rips into David Wells, Carl Pavano and Kevin Brown for the book, to name three) and how he blindly believed Brian Cashman was a friend who would always have his back only to be betrayed at the end. After reading this book, I’m wondering why the photo of Torre on the cover doesn’t have a halo over it.
Also, if Johnny Damon gets someone to read this book to him, he probably won’t be too happy.
There’s a direct quote from him in Chapter 13 (“We Have a Problem”) in regard to the 2007 season: “Every day in the off-season…I didn’t feel like getting ready for baseball…”. He goes on to say he was having too much fun playing with his kids and that he felt “…unprepared to make that decision about playing”. Eesh. I suppose it’s possible that I just forgot reading this quote before, but man…his own words just set up this part of the chapter where we learn that he barely got off his ass for a good portion of the beginning of that season and turned many of his teammates against him in the process. Verducci quotes “a player” as being close to tears when telling Torre (in regard to Damon), “Let’s get rid of him….guys can’t stand him”. And there’s a team meeting recalled where Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera spoke about “relying on each other” without specifically calling out Damon, but it being understood who they were referring to. In this same meeting, Damon got up to speak and repeated the message..much to the surprise of Joe Torre and others. The guy sitting on his ass and being unreliable was the guy telling the rest of the team to get off their asses and be reliable. It’s good to know Johnny’s as thick behind the scenes as he comes across to the media.
And in the event that you’re looking for more reasons to think A*Rod is a bit of a dink, after Joe Torre’s final game with the Yankees, all the players stopped by to say goodbye…except for Slappy. And when he won the MVP a month later and Torre called to congratulate him, A*Rod never returned the call. (Of course, this could also go back to the “Joe Torre has never done anything wrong” theme that permeates the book. Not defending Slappy on another dick move, but this books is wildly one-sided when it comes to anything involving Torre.)