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If the last three days of secret meetings in Tampa were part of the movie, "The Godfather", Don Corleone would have kissed Joe Torre
on both cheeks, told him he was forever a part of the family, and then
given him an offer he couldn’t refuse. But, Don Corleone isn’t the boss
of the Yankees, and while these meetings were very much about family,
that family is not the Corleones. In the real life story, the name of
the family is Steinbrenner, and in their universe all good things must
come to an end. So, yesterday they gave Joe Torre an offer he had to
For the first time in 12 years, someone other than Torre will be
filling out the New York Yankees’ lineup card. The expectation is that
HGH (Hank, George, and Hal) will name Torre’s bench coach and Yankees’
legend Don Mattingly as the new manager of the New York Yankees. The announcement could come as early as tomorrow.
Why Joe Had To Say, "NO!"
What Joe Torre wanted was simple. He wanted at least two more
guaranteed years, so he could have the honor of managing the Yankees
when the new stadium opens in 2009. After 12 seasons at the helm for the Bombers, and with 12 postseason appearances, 6 World Series appearances, and
4 championship rings, he felt he had earned that right. But, the
Steinbrenners felt differently. The contract they offered to Torre was
a one-year make good deal for $5 million with incentives that would
make the deal worth $8 million should the Yankees reach the World
Series. Torre would have the option of coming back in 2009 if he
reached all the incentives.
In other words, Torre would have to take a pay cut (from $7.5
million) unless he succeeded in the postseason, and since there would
be no guarantee he would manage in 2009, he would have to manage in 2008
with the honorable title of "lame duck".
Yankees Offer To Motivate Joe — Cabbie’s Rant!
Yankees’ president Randy Levine said that all the members of the Yankees’ brass were "unanimous" in their desire to bring Joe Torre back as manager. Later, he called the Yankees’ offer to Torre "extremely fair". EXTREMELY FAIR! This is the type of statement a lawyer makes during a
divorce settlement, not in a unanimous decision to extend the tenure of
possibly the most successful manager in Yankees’ history.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Levine used a more expanded rationale for
the Yankees’ incentive laden one-year offer when he said, "We
thought that we need to go to a performance-based model, having nothing
to do with Joe Torre’s character, integrity, or ability. We just think
it’s important to motivate people." Telling Joe Torre he
has to reach the World Series in order to keep his job is not
motivation, it’s pure idiocy. Do they really think Joe would try less
hard if he had been guaranteed 2009? If they do, then that is a direct
knock on his character, integrity and ability.
Here’s an idea for Levine and the Steinbrenners- if the Yankees’ brass really believes they "need to go to a performance-based model",
how about trying that in the upcoming A-Rod negotiations. Offer him a
one-year extension to his already existing contract. Give him another
$27 million and then tell him they’ll extend him year-to-year, adding a
couple of million should the Yankees reach the World Series. Try it
with Posada too. "Hey Jorge, here’s a one-year deal for $12 million.
We’ll extend you again next year if we win it all." See how fast you
lose all your free agents. See how long it takes the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays to pass your *ss in the standings. See how long it takes before
the crosstown Mets and their new manager in 2009, Joe Torre, take over
the back pages (I hope you’re listening Omar Minaya).
It is a tad ironic that the latest trademark of Yankees’ success, Joe Torre, was let go on the same date, October 18th, that George Steinbrenner
brought the glory back to the Bronx 30 years ago (1977) – when the
Yankees won their first World Series in 15 years. The mantle has now
been passed and hopefully for Hank and Hal, as the new Steinbrenner era
gets under way sans George, it won’t be that long before the Yankees
win another one.
Carl the Cabbie
A few weeks ago while in the midst of another long cold night of hacking it, I was slumped behind my steering wheel and stuck in yet another traffic jam from **** along the West Side Highway. The only thing that kept me going was baseball, baseball, and more baseball. With opening day a little less than a month away, I was in baseball delirium. Who would make the 25-man rosters? Who were the top rookies? How many fantasy leagues should I enter in this year? My wheels were spinning, I had to get out of this traffic jam, the April itch needed some scratching.
As if the baseball gods were listening, the next day I got a message from my brother inviting me to go down to Fort Myers for the weekend to visit our cousin and take in some Twins’ spring training. Hallelujah! I packed my sports illustrated duffel bag, grabbed my lap-top, and like the birdies, flew south with my Cabbie crew (brother Tony and 8-year old nephew Isaiah) for some sun, fun, and a whole lotta hardball.
I could probably lull you guys into a pleasant slumber with details about the luxury hotel that my brother sprang for, which included a heated pool, a water slide, a lazy river pool, a jacuzzi, an excellent buffet breakfast, and a hole-in-one golf patch in the middle of a lake. And while I am very grateful for this royal treatment, make no mistake, the best part of this vacation was not the swirling soft baked cinnamon french toast (though it was rather scrumptious!), no the jewel of this adventure was Twins’ spring training camp!
The first morning, I jumped on my lap-top, tossed a pen to my nephew and relayed the names and
numbers of all the Twins players so he would know who to ask for autographs. My brother barked about being charged $5 for the bottled Figi water, "I can’t believe they’re charging for the water, for the amount I’m paying… I can’t believe it!", while he packed the video camera. By 9:30 we were on the road. We rolled into the Lee County Sporting Complex at about 10:00 and I got my first glimpse of Bill Hammond Stadium. I was giddy with excitement. Just a few nights earlier I was honking my way down third avenue on my way toward the Bowery, and now here I was passing through Blyleven Lane, Mauch Manor and Puckett Pkwy. If one saw my nephew and I in the car at that moment, they would have a hard time making out who was the 8-year old.
My cousin Andy and his son, little Barry, met us inside the complex.
Andy, a local sportswriter, played tour guide and introduced us to some
of the Twins’ players and personnel. So, here at INSIDE PITCH we send a
big Cabbie "Thank You" to cousin Andy!
Now without further ado I welcome you to the Vlog portion of this Twins’ spring training exclusive!
Playback tip: All videos are QUICKTIME videos. For best playback results, make sure the "automatically play movies when open"
box is UNCHECKED in the QUICKTIME preference section. Then just click
play when video shows up. This will allow videos to play smoother.
We decided to get in a little practice just in case the Twins’ split
squads were a little shorthanded. I taught my nephew Isaiah how to
throw the mysterious Gyroball and he tested it out on little Barry.
were called on to pinch hit.
Next, we sidled over to the batting cage to make sure Jason Bartlett
and Mike Redmond were keeping their head down and eye on the ball.
Hanging out in the stands of Bill Hammond Stadium watching the Twins
take batting practice sure beats sitting in traffic on the West Side
Highway any day!
During spring training players are always testing out new bats.
Here’s an interesting interview with X-bats owner Jack Kasarjian.
X-bats are the second most used bat in the major leagues next to
Louisville Slugger. Almost 300 players used X-bats last year including
Day one at camp ended with us buying some memorabilia in the Twins’
store. We headed back to the pool and hit the water slide. Since my
nephew Isaiah and I had some time to kill, we decide to teach little
Barry some new vocabulary and came up with a very creative game where
we decided to rename everyone who passed by us. Ode to be eight years
We started out with a little breakfast by the pool before heading
back to training camp to watch Cousin Andy take part in a charity
softball game between the local sportswriters. The game was organized
by the Twins as a "thank you" to the writers. Bert Blyleven, maybe the
greatest curveball pitcher of all time, pitched and managed one team.
The great Tony Oliva managed my cousin’s team. The game was loads of
fun and getting to chat and fact check the "roster options" rule
(which I recently wrote about) with GM Terry Ryan was a nice caveat
Well, Cousin Andy ended up 1 for 3 but unfortunately his team went
down to defeat 9-5. To blow off some steam we decided to head to the
"Speed Gun" booth and throw some fastballs as hard as we could. Plus,
we heard rumors that anyone who threw got a free Twins’ baseball. In
between a "Star Spangled Banner" singing contest and chow time, we
chatted with a few more players before enjoying a special lunch thrown
by the Twins for all the writers. They had one of those business
cards-in-a-hat contests with the winner getting an autographed Tori
Hunter Super Doll. Guess who won?
After lunch we went back to the hotel to lounge about in the lazy
river pool. Thank god we didn’t take a dip in the lake next to the
hotel, cause it might have turned into an ugly scene from Jurassic
The next morning we flew out of Ft. Lauderdale and back to the grind
of New York. But, boy did I feel refreshed. This little adventure was
exactly what this Cabbie needed. Thanks to Cousin Andy, Kevin W. Smith
(Twins’ Executive Director of Public Affairs), Mike Herman (Twins’
Manager of Baseball Communications) and all the great people who
organized Twins’ spring training camp. It’s good to know that their are
still organizations out their that understand the importance of and the
value of the fan. Twins’ spring training was a FAN-tastic experience
and gets this Cabbie’s endorsement as a great vacation experience. With
opening day in the books and the season now under way there’s only one
thing left to say, "PLAY BALL!".
Carl The Cabbie’s "Herb Carneal" Contest
This last set of videos is a fun loving tribute to "The Voice of the
Twins", Herb Carneal, who passed away on April 1st at the age of 83.
Carneal was the Twins’ the play-by-play was for Twins’ radio broadcasts
since 1962. He received the Ford C. Frick award from the Baseball Hall
of Fame in 1996 and was a member of the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting
Hall of Fame. Another great Minnesota radio personality Garrison
Keillor once wrote this in honor of Carneal:
"Just give me two pillows and a bottle of beer.
And the Twins’ game on radio next to my ear.
Some hark to the sound of the loon or the teal.
But, I love the voice of Herb Carneal".
in honor of Carneal, here is a group of Twins’ players and personnel
pretending that Barry Bonds is on the cusp of Henry Aaron’s home run
record. We asked each of them to give there best radio call for Barry
Bonds’ potential tiebreaking 756th home run. I ask that you vote in the
comment section for who you think gave the best call.
As autumn approaches and the dog days of August wind down, the Mets turn the bend with a 14-length lead in the NL East and the Fall Classic well within their sights. Only a collapse of gargantuan proportions and a Bobby Thomson-esque like comeback by the Phillies can stop the Metropolitans.
So what shall the month of September mean for our frisky friends from Flushing? Well for one thing it will mean preparing for the playoffs. Here are four ways Willie Randolph and his crew can tune-up the Mets as they come down the stretch. And one way that the fans can help.
Pray For What You Want, But Prepare For What You Need!
The biggest concern the Mets have lies in the stability and abilty of their starting rotation. While
Mets’ brass cross their fingers and pray for the health of Tommy Glavine,
they must prepare for an October without him. If Glavine is unable to
return, the Mets will roll the dice and hope that one of the
triumvirate in Norfolk (AAA), Oliver Perez, Brian Bannister or Mike Pelfrey will
be able to come to the rescue. Oliver Perez will most likely be given
the first shot at replacing Glavine. Besides having the most previous
success on the major league level, Perez would replace Glavine as the
lone lefty in the starting rotation. In his last two starts at Norfolk
Perez has been lights out and has seemingly regained control of his
explosive but erratic fastball. Against Columbus on August 14th, Perez
went 6 IP with 7 K’s while allowing 5 H, 1 ER and most importantly only
1 BB. In his last outing versus Charlotte on August 19th he was even
better- 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB and 11 K’s.
Bannister could be the most poised pitcher of the three. His EXTREMELY strained hammy finally seems to have returned to health and with it
so has his pitching acumen. In his last two starts for the Tides
Bannister has tossed 14 IP with 12 K’s while allowing 9 H, 1 BB, and
only 1 ER. Though currently option # 2, if Brian has truly returned to
April form, he could be the Mets’ best option to anchor the aging Mets’
Should both Perez and/or Bannister fail, we cannot completely
discount further contribution from future ace Mike Pelfrey. He
certainly has the nastiest stuff of the three and showed true grit on
the mound in his earlier stint with the Mets. Unfortunately, Pelfrey is
recovering from a strain lat muscle and probably won’t be an option
for a couple of more weeks.
In the meantime, while we prepare Tommy G’s replacement, Mets’ fans
will have to get on their knees and pray Mr. Glavine’s cold finger is
nothing more than a flare-up of a life-long circulation problem
Another way for Randolph to apply some playoff polish is to play Carlos Delgado
against every lefty the Mets face. Yes, Carlos may only be hitting .221
against southpaws, but that’s even more reason to play him against
them. When the postseason hits Willie will not have the luxery of
sitting his clean-up hitter against lefties, so why not get him as much
practice as possible now.
No need to rush Pedro Martinez, but you also don’t want his
arm to atrophy. Give the guy four more starts and he’ll be ready. So,
massage that calf, do accupuncture, give him heat treatments galore,
just make sure that in three weeks Pedro is ready to go.
Show Shawn The Green
Michael Tucker is a nice guy and a true pro, but he’s not really very
good anymore. Cliff Floyd’s achilles tendon is thinner than a thread of
sewing string, and Endy Chavez can only play one position at a time.
That leaves the Mets with a game, but mostly overmatched Lastings
Milledge in rightfield. Shawn Green
has finally consented to waive his no-trade clause. All that stands in
the way of Shawn showing up at Shea is the type of green they print in
the nation’s capital. I say, agree to pick up at least two-thirds of
Green’s $9.5 million option next year and the D’Backs will not only
bite, they might root for us come the World Series. A Green/Milledge
platoon would help the Mets offense gain back some of the punch they
lost when they traded Xavier Nady.
This last suggestion to ready our Metroplitans for playoff battle is
for the Shea faithful. Their are 21 home games remaining. Pack the
stadium everytime out, and don’t just wait for the 7th-inning to root
root root for the home team, sing it every at bat, every pitch if
necessary. Let’s make ourselves the 10th man on the field and bring our
babies to the finish line just as we did in 1986.
A Special From Inside Pitch
Where Are The Children Playing?