February 19, 2005

Funtime! On Tuesday -- before either the Red Sox or Yankees had begun their first workout -- Trot Nixon took a swipe at Slappy McBluelips. Nixon was annoyed at Rodriguez's recent comments about his early morning work-outs.
"He said he's doing all this while 600 players are still in their bed. I said, 'What's wrong with me taking my kid to school? I'm not a deadbeat dad, you clown.' ... Some of his remarks, you don't see Jeter doing that stuff. Bernie, Jeter, Posada, they just go, do their work, show up at spring training, and go get it done every year. ... [W]hen people ask me about the Yankees, I tell them about Jeter and Bernie Williams and Posada. I don't tell them about Rodriguez." (Also)
Over in the Yankees' camp, no one came to A-Rod's defense. Jeter: "I'm not getting into a war of words with them. That's between Trot and Alex. You ask Trot what he meant." Posada: "It's not my problem, so don't make it my problem." Mike Stanton lumped Slappy in with the team's "supporting cast."

After Nixon's comments, reporters from the major New York dailies sent reporters to Fort Myers and Theo Epstein tried to lower the heat. "[A]s a whole, our team has been pretty modest in victory and respectful of the opposition, especially the Yankees. ... There's always going to be sort of personal rivalries that flare up from time to time. ... I think it's really a blip on the radar screen." ... Terry Francona thought he might tell his players to cool it a bit.

But there were other blips. David Wells mouthed off: "I remember [A-Rod's] press conference when he went there. He said a 'we' in his conference, like he's won three or four rings with them, and he hadn't. That kind of disturbed me. He shouldn't put himself in that category. You've got to earn it." ... Wells also noted that when he spoke with Brian Cashman about returning to New York, Cashman said "'We're going to go with youth this year.' And then they turn around and sign Randy [Johnson]."

On Friday, Bronson Arroyo said Slappy "was out of line" after being hit by a pitch back on July 24. "[That] incident and knocking the ball out of my hand, I think had a lot to do with people's perception of the way he plays the game. I think people could perceive him as a little bit of a dirty player and not as likable as maybe he once was." ... And Jason Varitek added: "I don't need to boast" about workout habits.

Joel Sherman, New York Post:
Alex Rodriguez is turning into Bobby Valentine before our eyes. His mere smile, the way he answers questions, the style he carries himself at work all generate loathing even from folks who hardly know him. With Valentine now in Japan and largely forgotten, it is possible the most skilled player in the game has morphed into the most hated. ...
Daily News writer John Harper called the Sox "sore winners" who are "positively obsessed" with Slappy. Meanwhile, the Yankees open camp, but all the New York papers want to talk about is Boston. ... According to Dan Shaughnessy, it's New York that has Boston on the brain:
The world champion Red Sox held their first workout for pitchers and catchers yesterday and once again there were representatives from the New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and Newsday on hand to watch the Sox go through their paces. These are not day-tripping reporters. These guys are camped out here, more than two hours from the Yankees' base in Tampa. ...

"The Red Sox right now, I think, are bigger than the Mets in New York," said veteran baseball columnist Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. ... Wells found himself splashed on the front page of yesterday's Post, next to the headline, "RAT SOX" with subheads reading, "Wells: Torre dissed me" and "A-Rod's all talk." Boomer was on the back page of the Daily News next to the headline, "FAT LIP."
In Boston, fans were irate when news leaked out that players may receive their World Series rings at a separate ceremony rather than before the home opener April 11 against the Yankees. After quoting John Henry -- "I don't think it's necessary to do anything in anybody's face. ... I can't imagine feeling any worse than we did in 2003, except for the way they felt in 2004. ... We still haven't finalized the ring decision. I have no idea if they will be ready." -- Shaughnessy wrote:
No one in the Nation wants to hear about the rings not being ready or gentlemen's agreements. Don't forget how much the Yankees love to rub it in. Before Game 7 last year, the Yankees brought back Bucky Dent to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, then they put the Sox owners in the Babe Ruth Suite. No More Mr. Nice Guy. Put the World Series championship ring on Bronson Arroyo's hand Opening Day and let's see if A-Rod can slap it away.
Schilling on his right ankle: "It's good. It's coming. I still feel like I'm a little bit behind, I'm not sure how much. I put a pair of spikes on for the first time last Friday and I'm making that adjustment. Just moving around in it. Throwing-wise, I'm just a little bit behind, but I'm working the mind-set that April 3 is the day ... That's my target ... I think I passed all my big tests. Now I just have to guard against trying to catch up in three or four days. And every day I feel better about things." ... Francona said he was "surprised" by Schilling's mobility during fielding practice.

Keith Foulke also wanted the Final Out ball: "I didn't really think about it at the time. After he caught it, there were other things going through my mind. Afterwards, I would have definitely liked to have it back. We got back to Boston and I asked about it, and I didn't get it, so that's the end of that. He didn't give me the ball. That's it. That's a tired issue is what that is."

Pedro Watch: The Mets ace arrived on Tuesday carrying a Red Sox tote bag, but quickly added that he also owns a Mets bag. "Believe it or not, I feel better this year than I did last year. For some reason toward the end of the year everything just clicked and I kept getting stronger and stronger."

Garry Sheffield's yapping was news in Tampa. He says he used steroids (clear and cream), but unknowingly. "[T]he bottom line was I thought it was rubbing cream on my legs." Call it the Jergens defense. ... On Friday, George Steinbrenner was in camp, but kept his mouth closed in taking about the Red Sox. "We will play the game on the field." After last year, what else could he say without looking like a fool?

Speaking of last year, here's Newsday's Shaun Powell:
A choke, and aura goes up in smoke

In due time, some choking victims make full recovery.

Their face returns to its natural color, their watery, red eyes slide back into the sockets, they're up on their feet again ready to resume a normal life. Except something's missing with the Yankees in their convalescence, four months after heaving up That Three-Uh-Oh Lead. ...

As they gather this week at Camp Steinbrenner, their first time together since their historic playoff flop, the Yankees are forced to swallow another grapefruit-sized bit of reality: They haven't won a World Series since 2000 and in a reversal of fortune, now find themselves chasing the Red Sox.

They are truly desperate, throwing a ton of money and weight in the direction of a 41-year-old pitcher.

And they are being disrespected, almost daily, it seems, by a chest-pounding Red Sox team that's eagerly taking cuts specifically at the Yankee with the most skills. ...

What really hurts is that redemption from an embarrassing ALCS loss to Boston can't be attempted for seven agonizing and somewhat meaningless months. ... Only then will they get to do what they couldn't last October: close out the Red Sox. Only then can Alex Rodriguez finally swing back at the Sox, who are talking about a $252-million player as though he's worth 10 cents. ...
The Red Sox play the Yankees for the first time on March 7 in Fort Myers.

No comments: