Comments from the Baseball Assistance Team fundraiser last night…
First, via the Journal News -
The winters of Randy Johnson and Bernie Williams took different paths, and those paths were a hot topic last night at a dinner honoring the 1977 Yankees.
Former Yankee and current ESPN analyst Jim Leyritz, for one, couldn’t wait to say good riddance to Johnson. Other former Yankees didn’t leave much hope that Williams, a free agent, would remain in the Bronx.
“I am looking forward to it,” Leyritz said when asked about life without Johnson. “He didn’t fit in here from the beginning. When you come to New York, you have to expect the attention. He played here enough to know what it would be like. He just thought he could come here, get his ring and go home.”
Gene Michael, a special advisor to George Steinbrenner now and a coach on the 1977 team, said Williams isn’t finished.
“Bernie has been a great player for us,” Michael said. “It would be different without him. But he can still play.”
Reggie Jackson came to the 1977 Yankees as a free agent, arriving in spring training saying he was “the straw that stirs the drink. Munson thinks he could be the straw that stirs the drink, but he stirs it bad.” Graig Nettles sees it differently. When asked last night who was the soul of that team, the former third baseman said: “Munson. He was the captain and the leader of the team.”
1. When did Leyritz become a spokesperson for the Yankees nation?
2. Stick must have had a few lollipops last night – or he was being kind.
3. Thirty years from now, will we hear Jorge Posada telling us that Jeter was the leader of the team and not A-Rod – like Nettles now talking about Reggie and Munson? I don’t fault Puff for having an opinion – and, I do agree with him – but if the media won’t let that question die, after three decades, then will they ever let the Jeter/A-Rod one go?
Next, via Reuters -
New York Yankee veterans agreed on Tuesday that the Bronx Bombers needed Alex Rodriguez to rise to the occasion in the postseason to help them return to World Series glory in 2007.
Rodriguez, the man nicknamed A-Rod who now patrols third base at Yankee Stadium, has carried the burden of high expectations in New York where boisterous boo-birds feel he has not lived up to his $25 million yearly salary as baseball’s highest-paid player.
“A-Rod, he needs to get over that hump. He needs to have a good postseason,” [Graig] Nettles told Reuters.
“He puts up good numbers during the season. If he just continues that during the postseason I think the fans in New York would embrace him and love him.”
Nettles’ views were echoed by Gene Michael, a former Yankee player, coach, manager, scout and general manager, who is now a senior advisor to the team.
“He just needs to get over the hump,” Michael said, before drawing a parallel with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who had a reputation for coming up short in the playoffs before leading his team to this year’s Super Bowl.
“Manning needs to get over that hump. He won that big one the other day and now he needs to win one more.”
Jim Leyritz, a hero of the 1996 Yankees World Series triumph over the Atlanta Braves, said theories about A-Rod suffering from lack of support in the clubhouse were unfounded.
“Hopefully the things with A-Rod last year will take care of themselves,” he said.
“I think it’s a joke. We had 25 guys on our team and we didn’t always get along either,” said Leyritz, a cocky part-time player, who would not have won any congeniality awards on the ’96 team.
“We weren’t best friends. We didn’t all like each other.
“The only thing is, he hasn’t done it in the postseason when they’ve really needed it. That’s why it’s looked like he’s having a hard time making it in New York.
“A-Rod has to make the adjustment himself to get used to playing in New York City.”
Great, now I’ve got the Black Eyed Peas “My Humps” stuck in my head.