"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 2/26/09

Since the games have finally begun (OK … only exhibition, but still) … today’s news is brought to you by someone who decided to videotape a Strat game:

  • ESPN recaps A-Rod’s day as part of the Yanks 6-1 Spring Training opener, and offers these tidbits:

The slugger had dinner Tuesday night with former Yankees star Reggie Jackson, now a special adviser with the team.

“I told him to hit the baseball. It’s really an old story. It never really changes,” Jackson said. “Hit the baseball, and hit it like heck. That’s really about all that really matters.”

The Hall of Famer also passed along some words from Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner.

“He said, ‘You deliver this message: Just tell him hit the damn ball and hit it when it counts. That’s really the most important thing that he can do. All the other conversations, they don’t matter. The more you talk, the more you have an opportunity to make a mistake.’ “

[My take: What an interesting contrast and comparison to be had ... A-Rod and Mr. October.  Who wouldn't want to be a fly on the wall for their conversations?]

  • Tyler Kepner points out the contributions of Swisher and Gardner in the win.
  • MLB.com offers a capsule recap of the game.
  • PeteAbe ponders why Igawa is not playing in the WBC, and gets a blunt assessment:

One of the Japanese reporters in Tampa covering Hideki Matsui was asked why Igawa was not considered for the WBC roster. He searched for the right words.

“They think … he is not so good,” the man said.

  • PeteAbe also gets some interesting quotes from Reggie regarding A-Rod’s revelations:

“The best answer I can give you is that I was disappointed. I was very lucky to have been a good player. When I started playing I was a fan. When I played I was a fan and when I left the game I am a fan of Derek Jeter, of Alex Rodriguez, of CC Sabathia. I like to be at games, I like to watch the games. … I get affected as a fan. You get saddened.

“I get angry sometimes. I’ve been reprimanded by the commissioner and the president of our team. I’ve pleaded with them to understand that I’m personally affected; I’m personally involved. I’m hurt; I’m bewildered. I don’t know that we ever get past it.”

  • The Babe Ruth monument has landed at the new Stadium.

[My take: No truth to the rumor that the Babe's view of the field is blocked by the center field restaurant.]

  • Neil Best of Newsday relays comments from Yankee COO Lonn Trost, taken from a ESPN Radio interview.  Apparently, those obstructed view bleacher seats will be only $5.  But wait, there’s more … or less:

Trost also said that in some cases companies or individuals with the money to buy ultra-expensive tickets are reluctant to do so not because they can’t afford it but because they are concerned simply with being seen in public sitting in such expensive seats in this economic environment.

[My take: O-kay then .... (whistling away).  Why should any one individual be concerned ... if they can afford the seat, more power to them I suppose.  I'm sure the Stadium security force will keep the well-to-do protected from the "average fan" (surprised they didn't build a moat to separate the field boxes from the other seats!).]

  • Derek Jeter reflects on his long association with the Yankees, and his future with the team:

In the cage that day, it finally dawned on him. The Yankees’ first spring in Tampa was 1996, and Jeter was here. He had been to a couple of big league camps before, in 1993 and ’94, when the Yankees were still based in Fort Lauderdale, but his arrival coincided with the ballyard formerly known as Legends Field, which also coincided with the Yankees’ re-emergence as the sport’s dominant power.

“Maybe that’s why it seems like I’ve been here forever,” he says. “Sometimes it feels like 15 years, and sometimes it feels like 15 minutes, and I think in a lot of ways both feelings are accurate. I don’t feel old, but I’ve been here for a lot of years already. How many swings have I taken in that same cage? Thousands?”

He shakes his head, smiles.

“But I’m not going anywhere,” he says. “I won’t be going away anytime soon.”

  • ESPN”s Peter Keating read Nate Silver’s estimation regarding A-Rod braking the all-time HR record, and disagrees:

What’s really interesting is that PECOTA thinks Rodriguez will come close to Bonds, projecting him to end his career with 730 homers.

But those totals would just be the beginning of the end for A-Rod.

When all-time records and thresholds are at stake, players will do anything to achieve them: sign with bad teams, take pay cuts, even risk embarrassing themselves and injuring our memories of their play. …

If A-Rod gets close to the career home-run record, you can be sure he’ll do anything and everything it takes to keep hanging on to at-bats.

The numbers seem to show A-Rod is likely to hit 700 homers, but not pass Bonds. History, on the other hand, says if he gets to 727 or 730, he might end up as a part-time left fielder for the Nationals, but he’ll get to 763.

  • 6-time Gold Glove 1B J.T. Snow turns 41 today.  Snow got a cup of coffee with the Yanks in ’92, before being packaged to the Angels for Jim Abbott.
  • Happy 76th birthday to one of the heroes of the 1961 World Series, Johnny Blanchard.
  • On this date in 1935, the Yankees release Babe Ruth, freeing him to sign a $20,000 contract with the Boston Braves of the National League. Ruth’s new contract with the Braves also gives him a share of the team’s profits. In 1934, Ruth had endured one of his worst seasons with the Yankees-at least by his lofty standards-with a .288 batting average, 22 home runs and 84 RBI.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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39 comments

1 Raf   ~  Feb 26, 2009 8:36 am

Even that off year Babe had was pretty good. Guess the Yanks knew something, as the wheels fell off after he joined the Braves

2 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 26, 2009 8:45 am

In the current environment when people are being called out for excessive spending, I can see why someone would not want to be seen sitting in $2,500 seats. That is afterall the reason the seats were created. Flaunting one's wealth is currently out of fashion, so the Yankees may need to get creative selling the remaining inventory (I can see the addition of perks like private tours of the field and clubhouse as well as autographs, etc. being used as an inducement).

3 Mattpat11   ~  Feb 26, 2009 8:52 am

I agree with Japan

4 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 26, 2009 8:56 am

I still can't get over how funny/ironic it is that Reggie of all people is now an old sage.

5 Mattpat11   ~  Feb 26, 2009 9:13 am

I've always wondered. Do the people who don't think A-Rod is a media whore also think Reggier wasn't?

6 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Feb 26, 2009 9:18 am

They didn't build a moat, but from the images I've seen, there is a wall separating the field-level "suite seats" (formerly the field boxes) from the rest of the riff-raf.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 26, 2009 9:31 am

[5] There is a huge difference between the two. Reggie was criticized because he didn't say the right thing ("I am the straw that stirs the drink" and "I brought my star to NY"). People jumped all over Reggie because he was arrogant...because he refused to defer to Munson and bow down to Billy.

Arod, on the other hand, has been criticized because he is image conscious. After all, Arod “earned” the A-Fraud nickname for trying to do carefully crafted things to appease the media and promote his image. So, when he came to the Yankees, he talked about how it was Derek’s team and it was an honor to wear pinstripes. Of course, that was viewed as disingenuous and even Arod’s deference to Jeter was labeled a “Single White Female” obsession. What’s more, in spite of being undermined by Torre on several occasions, Arod never once publically lashed into Torre.

I think what the two examples illustrate is that the media and many fans don’t always act with consistency or intelligence.

8 tommyl   ~  Feb 26, 2009 9:38 am

I have decided that, "They think … he is not so good," is my new joking put down of friends. That's hilarious, until you remember we're still paying him.

I do think its ironic that Reggie is giving sage advice on the media these days. What next? Meditation and relaxation with Paul O'Neil?

9 Mattpat11   ~  Feb 26, 2009 9:52 am

ALOT of A-Rod's problems come from his fat mouth. The original Jeter interview is the source of a lot of his problems. Things like "I'm working out while all the other players are taking their kids to school" and "maybe the fans hate me because I'm biracial" didn't help matters all that much either.

10 williamnyy23   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:02 am

[9] Right...so if Arod says how he feels, he has a fat mouth, and if he says what we want to hear, he is a phony.

Personally, I think Arod was right on all three counts: (1) Jeter wasn't the guy you had to stop on the Yankees; (2) He did likely have an edge because he could focus 100% on training; and (3) I am sure some people do resent his bi-racial, bl-lingual status because it makes him seem as if he is trying to serve too many masters. Why he should be criticized for saying things he believes is beyond me, but I guess that's why I don't get wrapped up in the daily Arod chronicles like so many others.

11 yankee23   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:06 am

[4] I can’t get over how funny/ironic it is that Diane of all people used 'braking' instead of 'breaking'! :D

12 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:10 am

As far as irony is concerned, nobody has a reaction to Hank advising Alex that "The more you talk, the more you have an opportunity to make a mistake" ??

13 Raf   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:13 am

Arod’s deference to Jeter was labeled a “Single White Female” obsession.

Which is something I found odd, considering Rodriguez was by far the better player.

14 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:14 am

[11] Sometimes, I wish someone would put the brakes on all that HR record talk... >;)

15 rbj   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:20 am

I think today's Post is brought to you by irony.

Irony didn't die after Sept. 11, just went away for a while. But now it's back, and in full force.

I'm not sure about the biracial angle. Jeter's biracial, Mariah Carey's biracial, Obama's biracial and they're not killed to the same extent A-Rod is. Maybe things are different in Texas but even there I'm sure there are lots of biracial offspring (and really, race, biologically speaking, is meaningless). I think A-Rod doesn't say the right things the right way, as Derek does, but also his detractors tent to amplify the misstatements. I just want to see him contribute to Yankee wins.

16 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:20 am

[13] Not really, when you consider that Jeter was and is the captain and leader of the clubhouse when he arrived, that many fans and people in the media were speculating that Jeter should move over for Alex; by acclaim the superior shortstop, that the frost on their friendship was still thick and relatively fresh and that Alex was accused by some former teammates on the Rangers of being a "24+1" kind of guy. Being the ever-image-conscious person he is, deference to the Cap'n was the lesser of all evils at the time.

17 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:28 am

[16] What is this "Post" that you speak of? Is it some cereal company or something? >;)

18 Diane Firstman   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:32 am

[11]

(hanging my head in shame) :-(

19 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:39 am

"Appetizers"... are they supposed to whet your appetite or satiate? Aren't you supposed to be hungry before you have dinner? Does this not then defeat the purpose? Is this irony or a "not so good" sequitur?

20 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:46 am

Okay, I will leave you guys alone now... (as I wonder how this all translates to the fans back home in Japan) >;)

21 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 26, 2009 10:51 am

10, I agree with this. I don't think there was anything that Alex said in that Scott Raab Esquire piece that was off-base, and he also said some nice things about Jeter too.

22 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:02 am

I always felt that the furor over the Raab piece said more about Jeter than it did Rodriguez. Sure he put his foot in his mouth there, but Jeter held that grudge for years. Ya gotta get over it a little bit after a while, its not like A-Rod killed his puppy or anything.

23 rbj   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:02 am

[17] Diane's News of the Day post.

24 Mattpat11   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:08 am

I guess I just have a personality like Jeter. I can be fiercely loyal to my friends, and I expect the same back. When I don't get it, we're through.

25 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:20 am

[24] I'm a lot like that too, I just think some perspective is needed. What Reggie said about Munson in Sport was, IMO, a thousand times worse than what A-Rod said. "Munson can only stir it bad" was a direct attack on Munson and his ability not just a player, but a captain. Saying "Jeter is never your concern" is more akin to a little competitive smacktalk, not the character assassination many Jeter-backers made it out to be.

26 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:21 am

and I apologize in advance for using the Jim Rome-ism "smacktalk" but I really couldn't think of anything better.

27 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:22 am

I'm with [10] and the seconding by Alex at [21]. The swing between 'too much info, big mouth' and 'too phony, unreal, obviously coached' is amusing and even absurd. Back to the microscope issues, and the target painted on him from when he went to Texas for the best offer (the horror!). Jeter, like Wayne Gretzky was in hockey, are/were masters at saying NOTHING but platitudes, banalities, so uncontentious that - at times - the story has been what they DIDN'T say. ("DJ didn't defend Alex Enough! Are the Yanks In Trouble?")

Mattpat, it feels off to compare personal relationships with being the captain of a ballclub. If DJ's personality is such that he'll never forgive or forget a teammate's 'error', he shouldn't be captain. I don't think that IS his personality, mind you. (And, in case anyone thinks I'm dissing him here, Jeter has long been my favorite player in the 'Not Mo' mortal person division.)

I also share the amusement above at Hank and Reggie Bar offering sage advice on discreetly handling the media. Which of THOSE two is the straw that stirs the drink? On reflection, (join me, OYF) I think the younger generation here just never lived through REAL clubhouse + media craziness. Just mull Reggie + Thurman + Billy + George in the Bronx Zoo.

28 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:24 am

Raging Tartabull got in there before me (love that nickname, btw). The advantage of short posts!

29 tommyl   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:29 am

Eh, sometimes I just think that some of his teammates get more annoyed than angry with him. I dunno, he puts his foot in his mouth a lot and he's insecure so he cares what other people think. That drives him to work harder than anyone else and be the best he can be. There are worse afflictions out there.

As per the Jeter/A-Rod comparison. I think people have to take into account their very, very different upbringings. Derek comes up from a very solid, stable and well educated family. Alex comes from a poorer, broken home, basically without a father. There's just no way you can expect Alex to be as secure.

30 Diane Firstman   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:30 am

[27]

Could you imagine the lunacy of The Bronx Zoo days if the Internet and bloggers were around back then?

31 tommyl   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:35 am

I'm a huge, huge Jeter fan, but I have to say in regards to that Esquire piece, I can feel a bit of Alex's pain. I've seen people in my line of work get a lot of credit for things because they happened to have worked with famous person X, whereas other people don't. I've seen jobs come and go for people because of things like that. If you ever feel you're on the wrong end, it can be maddeningly frustrating to see someone you think you've done better work than get accolades, honors etc. when you feel you deserved it more.

I don't think A-Rod was bashing Jeter in that piece, as much as just showing some frustration that he'd done likely more than Jeter, but since he hadn't had the good fortune to be on the Yankees during their run, he got much less credit. I agree he shouldn't have said it, but I can see the frustration and I don't think it was meant as a slight on Jeter the person or player.

32 RagingTartabull   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:36 am

[29] couldn't agree more on the second point, when you take into account A-Rod's upbringing from a purely socioeconomic standpoint its a minor miracle that he's as stable and successful as he is. There are a lot of people who grew up in similar circumstances who have run into much more serious problems in adulthood than being a "phony" or having a "big mouth".

33 Yankee Mama   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:40 am

A wall between the luxury seats and the hoi-polloi. What, the security men with the chained entrances were not enough? Now, the real spenders won't have to observe our loud, plebian ways. Declassé!

I'm tired of A-Rod and Jeter character analysis. Love Scott Raab. though.

And, the Igawa line was magic. Apparently, Matsui can barely tolerate breathing the same air as him. I wonder why Cashman didn't consult Matsui or even ask what it was like facing him.

34 Diane Firstman   ~  Feb 26, 2009 11:44 am

[29]

I totally concur on the second point as well.

I understand why A-Rod might choose to think he "needs" all those people around him (media advisors and such). But by the same token, I think the fans would take him more seriously and care more sincerely if he DIDN'T have this "corporate" automaton exterior. I think fans would like to think they are hearing "Alex Rodriguez", not "A-Rod", when #13 talks (to paraphrase Doug Glanville's excellent piece in the Times from earlier in the month).

35 tommyl   ~  Feb 26, 2009 12:05 pm

[34] I think that's likely true. But then, I think that Alex started out being a lot more "real" (Tyler Kepner had a nice Bats entry on this awhile back). I have to wonder if some combination of getting hammered in the press and also advice from people like Boras forced him more towards adopting his present persona. I just get the feeling Alex is desperate for approval, especially from older, father type figures and that can sometimes lead him to following bad advice.

Maybe its my own insecurities and vulnerabilities, but something keeps drawing me back to rooting for the guy. I also wonder how Jeter's career and legacy would be different had the Yankees not won in 96-00 but instead made the playoffs a lot but lost (a la Seattle).

36 Dimelo   ~  Feb 26, 2009 12:09 pm

[32] Sorry, socioeconomic issues don't come into play here. I had a very similar upbringing as ARod, so have many of my closest friends. Comparing legal problems to ARod's constant foot-in-mouth disease is not the same thing, or even in the same playing field. Putting one's foot in mouth is nothing more than an inability to read the room and know how to remain as modest as possible, while still clearly articulating your point. ARod can't do that.

I used to think ARod was a smart guy. Lately, the more I hear him talk, then the more I am left saying to myself - 'what a dumbass'. Even with his cousin yesterday, the other comment about not knowing which Gene he was going to meet with. He has a talent between the foul lines, other than that he's a human being that seems to have a lot of inner demons that he doesn't have a good grasp of because he's stuck on the ARod image.

37 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 26, 2009 12:09 pm

[34] Yes, but Diane, that was my point above ... in the Esquire piece, for example (and there are others) the claim from fan-haters and a lot of media is that he wasn't corporate ENOUGH, not guarded and bland enough, he was too direct, too honest, perhaps too MUCH A Rod. So then isn't it to be expected that the guy might, having been tar and feathered, decide he needs to get more like ... Jeter? Or other guys who never give the press ammo? He's just bad at blandness, which is why we DO get bit and pieces to chew up like a wolf pack.

Back to baseball. Something caught me by surprise: I thought Giambi was going to DH in Oakland, but no, he's pencilled on the depth charts at 1st base. And that is a BIG foul territory!

38 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Feb 26, 2009 12:10 pm

This time tommyl beats me. Yes, what he said. [35].

39 Dimelo   ~  Feb 26, 2009 12:14 pm

Maybe its my own insecurities and vulnerabilities, but something keeps drawing me back to rooting for the guy. I also wonder how Jeter’s career and legacy would be different had the Yankees not won in 96-00 but instead made the playoffs a lot but lost (a la Seattle).

And Bernie's, Paul O'Neil's, Mo's, would all be different today.

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