Jul 08

Reggie Jackson Should Shut Up; Wally Backman Defends Gary Carter

It must have been frustrating for Reggie Jackson when he questioned the validity of several Hall of Famers, including Gary Carter. I mean, nobody had been talking to him lately and he was out of the limelight.

Several of Carter’s teammates, including Wally Backman, came to his defense.

“Who is he to question?” Backman told the Bergen Record. “At least Gary was a complete player. It’s unbelievable Reggie would criticize a great guy and great player who’s passed away. Show some respect.”

Respect?

When it comes to respect to others, Jackson has no clue. He’s for himself first, second and to hell with everybody else.

Backman is right in that Carter was a more complete – and team player – than Jackson ever was. Some players tend to rub people the wrong way and what I’ll remember first about Jackson is not the three homers in the World Series game against the Dodgers, but for his derogatory comments about Thurman Munson, him ignoring Billy Martin’s signs and for scuffling with Martin in the dugout at Fenway.

Among his other comments in Sports Illustrated, Jackson said: “I didn’t see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice,  I’m not so sure he’s a Hall of Famer.”

Honestly, Puckett (3,000 hits), Sutton and Niekro (300 wins) are milestone stats that have meant automatic entry into the Hall of Fame. It’s the same way with 500 homers. Had Jackson hit 450 homers, would he be a Hall of Famer? I’m not so sure.

And, speaking of landmark honors, what about the Yankees’ retiring his number? Take away that World Series game and Jackson’s penchant for beating his own drum, it’s a reach to call him one of the great Yankees worthy of that honor.

 

 

 

Jul 13

Steinbrenner passes; his legacy endures.

“It was a beautiful thing to observe, all 36 oars working in unison.’’ – late Cardinals announcer Jack Buck quipping he had seen George Steinbrenner’s yacht.

It is a timeless quote about a timeless subject, George M. Steinbrenner, the demonstrative, cantankerous and blustery owner of the New York Yankees, who died today of a heart attack at age 80.

STEINBRENNER: Always King George

Buck’s comment has long been the perception of Steinbrenner by the public through screaming headlines and video and audio sound bites. The man was positively driven to win and it didn’t matter the cost in dollars or whom he stepped on. The Yankees would throw millions at players, and if they didn’t win Steinbrenner was ruthless in his handling of his managers and front office staff.

It was that way from the day he purchased the Yankees in 1973 for less than $10 million from CBS and said: “I won’t be active in the day-to-day operation of the Yankees. I’ll stick to building ships.’’

What he did was rebuilt the dynasty – twice.

By the time I started covering the Yankees in 1998, Steinbrenner’s legacy was well cemented in that he revived a struggling team and turned professional sports’ most revered franchise to a billion dollar empire.

The Yankees Brand is world-renowned and that is Steinbrenner’s legacy on the grand scale, but for me I’ll remember him like most beat reporters for the exhilarating paces he put us through.

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Sep 29

About Last Night ….

Last night was another puzzling and unfulfilling game for the Mets, who lost 2-1 at Washington. They faced a pitcher, Ross Detweiler, who started the game with a 0-6 record and 5.71, one you would have thought they could handle.

They didn’t, getting only seven hits.

FIGUEROA: Hard luck loser.

FIGUEROA: Hard luck loser.


And, you don’t often read this, but the Mets wasted a strong start by Nelson Figueroa, who is now 0-5 for the month of September. He could have won at least two of those games with a little offensive support. Figueroa has given up four runs in 13 innings in his last two starts, losing both.

It also wasn’t a good night for David Wright, who continues to struggle at the plate. He also committed an error and should have had two. Wright is hitting less than .220 since returning from the disabled list after he was beaned by Matt Cain.

Last night was the 90th loss of the season by the Mets, who were projected to get to, and win, the World Series by Sports Illustrated.

Feb 07

A-Roids outed … yawn … where’s the surprise?

RODRIGUEZ: Outed.

RODRIGUEZ: Outed.

Sports Illustrated had the story. Alex Rodriguez has been outed using steriods. Nothing is ever a surprise anymore. Not that there weren’t suspicions. How could there not be questions? How could there not be questions of anybody?

It’s disappointing in a sense because I hoped Rodriguez would have been the one to break Barry Bonds’ mark. (I refuse to call Bonds’ total a record, as to me, the record holder for home runs in Hank Aaron).

Rodriguez, like Bonds, is a great player. Did he really need chemical enhancement to reach his level of excellence? That’s the puzzling thing. It’s not like he needed something to put him over the top.

Then again, we don’t know when he started. We have an idea of when Bonds started, but Rodriguez we can only speculate.

To get inside his head and wonder why he would cross over to the dark side and opt to cheat for the first time would be a fascinating study.

For now, all we can do is wonder.

Why? When? Where? How?

And, of course, who else?