Wednesday, September 22, 2010

John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman, Cashman, Steinbrenner and Torre thoughts; Playoff baseball coming up

I had a long car ride yesterday from DC to Atlanta (If a Tour Championship falls in the forest and Tiger isn’t playing it did it really happen?) and, as I always do I spent a lot of time on the phone before it got dark and I could begin to pick up ballgames on the radio.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: it is amazing how fast the time passes when I’m spinning the dial from game-to-game in the car; even if some of the games are meaningless (as in Mets-Marlins). Two of the games I picked up were very meaningful: Yankees-Rays and Braves-Phillies.

Listening to the Yankees is always entertaining. As I’ve said before I like both John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman personally and Suzyn works as hard as anyone in the business to try to know what is going on in the clubhouse she covers. That said, listen to the two of them wax poetic about George Steinbrenner and the ceremony unveiling his monument was almost fall down funny. (BTW, did anyone else notice that Steinbrenner’s plaque is about four times bigger than any of the others in Monument Park? Actually, I’m not sure why they need a monument at all, the new stadium IS the monument he built to himself).

So John and Suzyn are going on about how moving the ceremony was and how tastefully it was handled and how great it was to see Joe Torre and Don Mattingly back in Yankee Stadium. I wondered for a second if either of them had mentioned Torre’s name on the air since 2007 but then realized I was being silly. I think. Then I wondered this: If Joe Girardi decides at the end of the season that the Cubs really are his dream job—there are some around the Yankees who believe it will happen; others say absolutely no way—and goes to Chicago would Brian Cashman bring Torre back for a farewell tour?

I understand the chances are at least 100-to-one. Torre’s book (which Tom Verducci wrote and reported brilliantly) burned some serious bridges between himself and the Steinbrenner family. Or so it would seem. Yogi Berra didn’t set foot inside Yankee Stadium for close to 20 years. Steinbrenner was famous for firing people—most notably Billy Martin but others too—and then making up with them and bringing them back.

Brian Cashman isn’t Steinbrenner. My guess is he’s more of a grudge holder and he felt burned by Torre’s book. But he’s also pretty smart and, if Girardi decided to leave and there’s no other eye-popping candidate (is there?—certainly not on the coaching staff and if you think Bobby Valentine is a good idea you should, well, work for the Mets) maybe he would sit down with Torre?

Highly unlikely but still worth a thought or two as I-85 winds its way through South Carolina. As my mind was wandering I was brought back to reality by Suzyn, who was still going on about Steinbrenner.

“Do you know what Curtis Granderson said to me after the game last night?” she said to John in a hushed tone.

“What,” John prompted in an equally hushed tone.

“He said,” Suzyn said, pausing for dramatic effect, “’I wish I’d known him.’”

Okay, now I was almost into a tree driving off the road. Really? Curtis Granderson is a bright guy—if you listen to him for five minutes you’ll know that. Surely, if he thought about that, he might restate his position. If Steinbrenner was still running the Yankees now how do you think he would have reacted when Austin Jackson was hitting something like .350 in June and Granderson, who the Yankees traded Granderson to get, was hitting .200? It would have been great. “My baseball people said Granderson would hit 30 home runs, drive in 100 runs and steal 30 bases? What were they thinking?” Granderson might have been traded to Kansas City at the All-Star break for a middle relief pitcher.

Steinbrenner would have had George Costanza’s father on the phone screaming, “Curtis Granderson for Austin Jackson, what were you thinking?!”

So let’s be real about Steinbrenner, okay? We’ve all heard the stories since his death about his acts of kindness and I don’t doubt them. When I hear them though I’m reminded of my first conversation with Dan Snyder, who called me years ago to tell me I shouldn’t be so critical of him.

This is how it went:

“Are you being critical of me because you have something against Children’s Hospital?”

“WHAT? What in the world are you talking about?”

“Well, you know, I’m on the board of Children’s Hospital and I raise a LOT of money for them so I thought maybe you had a problem with them so you’re turning that on me.”

(I swear to God I’m not making this up).

“First of all Dan, I think Children’s Hospital is a great place. My son had hernia surgery there and they were fabulous, start to finish. Second, if he hadn’t ever been there why in the world would I rip someone for raising money for a hospital—especially one devoted to kids?”

Long pause as he thinks of his next move.

“Well, you probably don’t know how much money I give to charity.”

“Dan, I honestly don’t CARE how much money you give to charity. You’re a rich guy, you SHOULD give a lot of money to charity and then NOT brag about it. Either way, it has nothing to do with what you do as an owner or how you treat people.”

I think I’d say the exact same thing about Steinbrenner. I’m not saying he’s Snyder; the major difference besides the fact that Steinbrenner did finally learn to let his baseball people actually run things after his second suspension from baseball, is that Steinbrenner did feel badly when he behaved badly and tried to do something about. Snyder still thinks he should be allowed to scream at people because he gives money to charity.

The Yankees won 7-3 which is good because I thought John and Suzyn were going to go down and lecture Phil Hughes right on the mound about handling an early 5-0 lead if he didn’t get his act together. The Phillies also won, leaving the Braves scuffling to try to get a wildcard berth. I truly hope they do even though I think the Padres are a great story because I’m a Bobby Cox fan and I’d like to see him go out with a playoff team, not a team that led most of the season and didn’t make it to postseason.

The problem right now is their starting pitching is either hurt or struggling. On the other hand if I had to pick one team I like in postseason it would be the Phils. They’ve been hurt all year and now they’re the hottest team in the game. The team I’d like to see win is the Twins. I love the way they run their team; I can’t wait to see the new ballpark in person someday soon and Joe Mauer is just SO good.

Here’s hoping his knee is okay. Oh, and here’s hoping the Yankees don’t hire Torre and the Mets do. They might even play a September game next season worth listening to if that happens.


PeteWill said...

John, as you probably know there is a lot of talk in NY about everything from the size of the Steinbrenner plaque to his ascension to mythical Greek God status, perpetrated not just by the Yankees and their radio announce team but also by the NY media in general. It just goes to show how people are willing to forgive (and even forget) many transgressions in exchange for winning. Can you imagine that they might even do this for Dolan if the Knicks start winning?! As for your "liking both Sterling and Waldman personally," I don't know them personally, but I like their personalities. It's just so hard to listen to them call a game because I have been spoiled by so many who are so much better, with Scully at the top of the list.

Mr. X said...


"I spent a lot of time on the phone before it got dark and I could begin to pick up ballgames on the radio."

Why do you resist getting satellite radio, especially given all your driving trips?

JoeGish said...

No Love for the Reds?...Thats the real story of the summer. Dusty Baker has got those boys playing like champs...

Anonymous said...

Another difference between George and Snyder...George has actually won.