Richard Barbieri has a feature up today at the Hardball Times on the Yankees acquistion of Danny Tartabull. In which, he writes:
Despite flaws both real and perceived, Tartabull was a major positive step for the Yankees, their first marquee free agent in some time and a sign that the Mel Halls of the world would no longer be acceptable as off-season acquisitions. In fact, Tartabull arguably was more important to the Yankees as a symbol than as an actual player. The 1992 offseason saw the team add Wade Boggs and Jimmy Key, and by 1994 the Yankees had baseball’s best record at the time of the strike.
Whenever I think of Danny Tartabull, I think of Sam Militello’s first game (ever) for the Yankees. The date was August 9, 1992. I was at that game with my friends, Lou and Mike. Tartabull did not play that day because he had a “bad back.” His condition was announced before the game. (We probably heard it on the radio on the way to the park.)
Militello was awesome that day, in his big league debut, holding the Red Sox to one hit over 7 innings. Still, it was a close game until the 8th inning, so, most of the fans there that day stayed until the end of the game.
After the game, traffic around the Stadium was mess. Mike, Lou and I were stuck on some street (I forget which one) just stopped dead in traffic. There was a side-street to our right that the police had closed with those blue wooden horses that that use to block off traffic – and two cops were standing guard in front of it.
As we’re sitting there, not moving an inch, all of a sudden a very large SUV (or was it a Jeep?) breaks from the traffic line that we were in and heads into that side-street towards the police barricade.
Mike, Lou and I looked at each other and one of us said “Where does he think he’s going?”
Just then, the SUV stops in front of the cops and the driver’s door flies open – and the driver jumps into the street (which was like a two-foot drop because the SUV was so high off the ground).
When the driver got out of the car, we realized who it was – it was Danny Tartabull.
Tartabull said something to the policemen and they nodded their heads. Then, the cops moved away from the wooden horses and allowed Danny Tartabull to walk towards the barricades.
Tartabull grabbed of the wooden horses and carried it off to the curb – then he jumped back into his SUV, and went speeding down the street that was completely open, and avoided being stuck in traffic (for any longer).
Sitting there, in Mike’s car, watching this whole thing unfold, all I could think of was “Gee, that’s some bad back.”
And, to this Yankees fan, this event will be Danny Tartabull’s Yankees legacy. I know that sabermetric measures will tell you that he was a productive batter – but, he was just one of those players who would never be part of a winning team because he had a terrible attitude towards how the game should be played.
Getting rid of players like Tartabull was a “major positive step for the Yankees,” in my opinion. Getting players who give an honest effort was when the Yankees started to win again.