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) ·
Remember the Glory Days of the 1990s? Remember when Scott Brosius manned third, Chad Curtis manned left and Glenallen Hill manned the disabled list? Those were the days.
Over the last decade or so, a lot of players — some much, much better than others — have passed through the Bronx. Except for those who stick with the team in one capacity or another and those that are big names, most fans never hear from or think of the Mike Gallegos and Charlies Hayeses of the world once they leave the Bronx. Baseball is fleeting; it’s easy, as Mike recently noted, to make a lot of money, but it’s not so easy to stick around.
So let’s check in with some of our old fan favorites and Yankees who are lost to the sands of time. I’ve put together a rather random selection of Yanks from the 1990s who have faded from view. If anyone’s missing, leave a request in the comments.
Scott Brosius: Brosius retired at 34. He was ready to stop playing but not ready to give up the game. He is now the head coach at Linfield College, a DIII school in Oregon. (Brosius’ coaching bio is here.)
Glenallen Hill: Where have you gone, Glenallen Hill? In his 40 games with the Yanks, Hill turned in an OPS of 1.113 while hitting 16 home runs. It was impressive. He’s now the Rockies’ first base coach.
Mike Gallego: Gallego held down the back-up infield spot for a few years in the mid-1990s, hitting .262/.347/.383 during that stretch. I guess you could say he was Miguel Cairo ten years earlier. He is now the Rockies’ bench coach.
Alvaro Espinoza: Before Mike Gallego came Alvaro Espinoza. He was pretty bad at hitting and is now the infield coach down at Scranton.
Chad Curtis: Ah, Mr. Way-Too-Serious. Chad Curtis made a name for himself by picking a fight in the media with Derek Jeter following a bench-clearing incident in Seattle. While the Yanks tried to mix it up with the Mariners, Jeter and A-Rod, then on Seattle, were joking around. Chad didn’t like it, and the Yankees liked Jeter more than they liked Curtis. So at the end of 1999, Curtis left for greener pastures. He is now the athletic director and weight training expert of the NorthPoint Christian Schools. I would not want this man as my gym teacher in high school.
Roberto Kelly: The man who launched the Yankee dynasty. On November 3, 1992, Roberto Kelly unknowingly launched the Yankees on a march toward history when he found himself sent to Cincinnati in exchange for Paul O’Neill. Kelly would return to the Yanks for an unmemorable stint in 2000. After a few years of managing at the Minor League level, Kelly is returning to the Majors this year as the Giants’ first base coach.
Charlie Hayes: We all know this one: “Hayes, in foul territory. Hayes has room. And he makes the catch.” Charlie ended the 1996 World Series with a catch in foul territory and stuck around the Bronx for a disappointing 1997 campaign. He is now the owner of the Big League Baseball Academy in Texas and could really use some help with Web design.
Cecil Fielder: His estranged son is in the news in Milwaukee these days, but Fielder garnered headlines a few years back for domestic disputes and a gambling addiction. He was just named manager of the Atlantic City Surf and is sporting a rockin’ goatee as seen in this picture.
Baseball returned to Yankee fans today in the form of a loose, intrasquad game. The Goose beat the Gators 6-2 with the Gators committing six errors. Bryan Hoch’s got the pitching lines, and as I’ve said recently, just say no to Sean Henn. Because one intrasquad Spring Training game in February is the best indicator of how a pitcher will do all season. · (9) ·