It’s a bitterly cold Presidents’ Day Observed and I’m alone at the office, having traded Friday for Monday on my work schedule.
Down in Tampa it’s a good 35 to 40 degrees warmer and there’s an atmosphere of unburdening in the air. Yankee Chairman of the Board and heir apparent to the Boss Steve Swindal made his first appearance at Legends Field and spoke to reporters about his DUI bust in the wee hours of the morning last Thursday. Clearly humiliated, Swindal was very apologetic, but unable to comment much due to his pending trial scheduled for some time in March.
A bit earlier, Alex Rodriguez spoke candidly to reporters about his opt-out clause, his relationship with Derek Jeter (which will grab most of the headlines) and his reaction to batting eighth in the Yankees’ final postseason game last year. About the last he admitted to being “disappointed” and “embarrassed” and said he “didn’t like it,” but expressed awareness that his performance was what lead to Torre’s decision.
The latter is enlightening not simply because of Rodriguez’s refreshing honesty, but because of the way the assembled reporters badger him about his opt-out clause. Rodriguez says some version of “I want to be a Yankee” at least eight times but, wisely, refuses to say more because that opt-out clause is a tremendous bit of negotiating leverage and he’s obviously too smart to undermine it just to get a bullheaded beat reporter off his back (he also says “I understand my contract” or the like at least four times). The closest he comes to conceding to the onslaught, which at one point becomes so absurd that the crowd erupts in laughter, is saying that he will not be a free agent next year, but he simultaneously refuses to turn “I want to be a Yankee” into “I will be a Yankee.” If you want to know why the New York media drives some athletes crazy, give a listen and consider that this is Rodriguez’s first day in camp and all he’s done thus far is unpack his things and get a physical.
In injury news, Steven White threw today, his neck pain from Friday having proven to be as inconsequential as had been assumed. Meanwhile, according to Joe Torre, Carl Pavano ended some of his drills early today due to “heavy legs.” With any other player this wouldn’t be news. Indeed, Meat did throw his bullpen session later in the day. Still, because it’s Pavano, it bears watching.