“Red Sox Nation?” What a bunch of [expletive] that is,” he [Hank Steinbrenner] said in an interview with The New York Times’ Play magazine. “That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans.
“Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”
That’s the best thing to come out of Hank’s mouth so far.
(hat tip to Mike R.)
I know it’s one inning on the first day of Spring Training. I know that pitchers use Spring Training to hone their pitchers and refine their mechanics. But here goes: Kei Igawa entered today’s Yankee game against the University of South Florida in the sixth inning of a game in which USF had manage just one base runner. Igawa gave up two walks, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and surrendered a Grand Slam. Why the Yanks declined to trade him when they could, I have yet to understand.
Meanwhile, here’s the first boxscore of the season. Soak it up; it’s a good one. The Big Three went a combined five innings, allowing one hit and striking out six. Jorge wasted his one triple of the year on a Spring Training game against a college team, and A-Rod drove in three runs. Baseball is back.
Two items of note concerning Phil Hughes today. Phil answered some readers’ questions on PeteAbe’s blog today. The answers are as exciting as you would expect. Meanwhile, head on over to this Yard Work post. The guys there completely nailed Phil’s blog, but their satire, according to everyone, isn’t funny. You’ve been warned. · (14) ·
Jonathan Mahler, the author of the excellent book The Bronx is Burning, penned a 7,000-word piece on the Steinbrenner brothers for this weekend’s Play magazine. It’s available now online here. Once I have a chance to read through the whole thing, I’ll break it down more. It is, by far, the most detailed look into the lives of Hank and Hal we’ve read this spring. Emma Span already has and offers up her take at Eephus Pitch. The reason for moving the tarp at the new stadium is money. Literally. · (8) ·
Shawn Green, a 14-year veteran, called it quits today, and something David Pinto wrote about him made me think about his career. Let’s play the comparison game.
Player A played in 1951 games spanning 15 years. He racked up 2003 hits, 445 doubles, 328 HR, 1070 RBIs and a hitting line of .283/.355/.494. No one is talking about his career as anything close to Hall of Fame-worthy. Nevertheless, during Player A’s five best seasons, he was quite the hitter, racking up a .288/.369/.545 line with 192 home runs.
Player B played 1785 games over 14 season and knocked out 2153 hits, 442 doubles, 222 HR, 1099 RBIs and a hitting line of .307/.358/.471. With nine Gold Gloves in tow, fans of Player B love to make his case for the Hall of Fame. During his six best years, he hit .327/.372/.530 with 160 HR.
Both players saw their playing time, power numbers and careers cut short by various injuries.
As you may be able to guess, Player A is of course Shawn Green, and Player B is Yankee fan favorite Don Mattingly. When all is said and done, their career numbers are remarkably similar, but Mattingly seems to enjoy the grassroots Hall of Fame support among die-hard Yankee fans while Green and Cooperstown won’t ever end up in the same sentence.
Now, you can look closely at these numbers and see differences. Mattingly was a more prolific hitter and won more Gold Gloves, for whatever those are worth. Green, playing in a power era, had a higher career slugging percentage and launched over 100 more home runs than Mattingly. It all evens out in the end.
So what is it about Donnie Baseball that drives Yankee fans so crazy? To me, it’s what he epitomizes. The Yanks in the 1980s and early 1990s were barren wastelands of teams, but Mattingly was a real throwback to the days of Yankee greats. He came to play every day, health-permitting, and he gave it his all. When he called it quits at a young age, New Yorkers didn’t embrace Tino Martinez, his replacement, for some time.
This isn’t meant to tear down Mattingly. I grew up idolizing Donnie Baseball, and I always wanted Number 23 for whatever after-school team I was on. He was my favorite. But Yankee fans get blinded by their love sometimes. Mattingly was great; he was a real presence on the team. His number deserves its spot in left-center field. But he doesn’t really warrant the Cooperstown support he seems to get from a lot of fans. If you don’t believe me, just ask Shawn Green.
According to a report in the Daily News, Bobby Murcer’s brain cancer may be more serious than doctors originally thought. According to e-mail Murcer’s wife Kay sent to friends, doctors have noticed something on a recent MRI, and Bobby has to go in for more tests. Our thoughts are of course with the Murcers, and hopefully, doctors will simply find scar tissue and not another cancerous tumor. · (12) ·
As The PEDs Turn continued yesterday when Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and his House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked the Justice Department to investigate inconsistencies in Roger Clemens’ testimony. While, by now, I’ve long since given up any expectation of finding out the Truth (with a capital T) in the Clemens/McNamee shouting contest, this latest development will impact the Yankees because Andy Pettitte figures to be a key component of any investigation and potential perjury trial.
While the FBI has since opend a probe into Clemens, Andy Pettitte has reluctantly noted that he will be a part of the investigation. These developments could very well impact Pettittes’ mental preparation this season. He’s a fighter on the mound, and there’s no reason to think he carries his personal baggage onto the field with him. But this is heavy.
So far, the media has given Pettitte a pass, but in a rather scathing piece in the Village Voice, Allan Barra wonders if that should change. Barra also thinks Pettitte should be suspended.
Emma Span writes on Slate today about a topic near and dear to our hearts: why fans of the Yanks and Red Sox weren’t so keen on trading for Johan Santana. She sends a shout-out to our Save the Big Three campaign, and more t-shirt styles are now available with IPK’s and Phil’s new numbers. · (12) ·
PeteAbe mentions in this notebook that Scott Strickland was scratched from his appearance in yesterday’s intrasquad game because of a “stiff and swollen” elbow. Strickland had Tommy John surgery back in 2003, and has only managed 9, 34, 53 and 15 IP each year since 2004. He signed a MiL deal with the Yanks last year, but didn’t pitch because his wife gave birth to premature twins. Considering he wasn’t going to be much of a factor in the bullpen to start with, this latest setback might have been the first nail in the baseball career coffin. · (2) ·