Saturday, February 17, 2007
Aaron's car and other spring training news.
If there’s anything that can at least mentally melt the snow piling up around Grand Rapids this week, it’s the phrase “pitchers and catchers reported to spring training.”
And it was so nice to see the Mets out there frolicking around Port St. Lucie that I didn’t even mind the stupid new batting practice caps they’re being forced to wear.
And what contrast between the Mets camp and the hi-jinks going on across the state in Yankee land.
We’ve had Pedro showing up, looking nice and healthy and announcing that he was rehabbing ahead of schedule.
D-Wright is living up to his do-right reputation with every quote he gives, and Mr. Cover Boy has been all over the place.
Willie was walking around flashing his World Series rings, making it clear that playing deep into October last year isn’t going to cut it this year, a message we all like to hear – especially when the management goal not to long ago was to be playing “meaningful games” in September.
Even the owners are getting into the act, with Fred Wilpon announcing a $12 million donation to the University of Michigan for some health and athletic programs.
About the only thing that comes close to spoiling the good mood was Aaron Heilman griping about his parking spot. And we’ll get to that in a minute.
In contrast, at so-called Legends Field about the best thing they can say is that Derek Freaking Jeter hasn’t become the latest to declare he’s a potential father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby. Of course, he’d be exposed as a liar right away because even Anna Nicole had some standards. And when you rank below Gabor husbands on the acceptability scale, that's saying something.
But let’s review. Yankee icon and helmet-tosser Bernie Williams was kicked to the curb. Apparently Bernie thought his years of solid play and not embarrassing the Yanks earned him a little more than a minor league contract. I guess Bernie didn’t think spending the summer at Scranton-Wilkes Barre waiting for Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui to get hurt was his idea of a farewell tour.
Then cyborg-closer Mariano Rivera mouthed off that Bernie was being mistreated, and oh yeah, he wants a contract extension or he’ll walk at the end of the season. I didn’t know Rivera was programmed to speak at all, much less criticize management.
Stunned that he was being out-quoted by a guy who previously never spoke, Mike Mussina started tossing verbal bombs at slacker-pitcher Carl Pavano, who has spent a lot more time on the DL than the mound since signing a big deal.
Then, not content to allow the players to do all the stupid things, George Steinbrenner’s son-in-law and designated successor Steve Swindal is facing charges of driving under the influence after allegedly weaving and driving 61 mph in a 35 mph zone.
Yankee turmoil is like shrimp sample day at Costco, you just can’t get enough.
Now, back to Mr. Heilman. Apparently Aaron was peeved because some of the biggest stars and veterans have assigned parking spaces at the Mets camp and Aaron’s ride is going to reside with the rookies and everyone else.
Aaron. Dude. What are you doing? Last time I saw you, you were looking over shoulder as a pitch to Yadier Molina was flying into the left field bullpen in the ninth inning of NLCS Game 7.
Molina, he of the .216 stick during the regular season, is the reason my Christmas list did not consist entirely of 2006 World Series merchandise.
It wasn’t quite a Kenny Rogers meltdown, but there are enough people who think your new middle name should be “Bleeping” to suggest that you should not be so cocky arriving in camp.
Aaron, you should have been the second guy in camp. I’d say first guy, but I think Wright has been there since Halloween trying to make up for his own post-season woes.
Then you should have quietly slipped in a side door, hustled out to the field, and practiced your change-up so no one with a .216 can never ever get solid wood on it again.
Then, you should have marched to the stands to sign everything for everyone whether they asked for it or not, and write “I’m sorry” under every autograph.
Park your car and pitch well, and you can be redeemed.