Job battles figure to go down to the wire for the Angels, Cubs and Brewers.
My one and only conversation with Joe Torre took place during a lunch break about two weeks after the Yankees were eliminated by the Cleveland Indians in the 1997 Division Series. My impressions at the time were clouded by the kind of star-struck feelings that a little boy might have upon meeting with his hero. Yet, Joe Torre was not my hero so I cannot explain my nervousness. I don’t think it was merely shyness around a celebrity, because I think I would be in perfect control of myself if Burt Reynolds or Gavin McLeod appeared out of nowhere and criticized my lifelong policy of yam avoidance. In any case, weeks later my nervousness would be forgotten, and I would remember only his poise and how smooth, persuasive and in-control he was during our brief yam encounter. I don’t want to make too much of this, but clearly this was a man whose courage had been tested under fire. A different man might have been more timorous when it came to mocking another man’s side dish. Torre handled the whole encounter with aplomb, genial, yet forceful, like Gary Cooper. Shockingly, he seemed not at all intimidated by the inequality that existed between us–he being only the manager of the New York Yankees while I was the proud owner of a juris doctorate–and you can bet that if I had been Ken Kaiser, the Wookie from “Star Wars,” or GMS III himself, he would have forthrightly made the case for yams as if he cared nothing at all for his own job security and everything for the nutritional lives of his co-workers.
The Newark Star Ledger reported Feb. 10 that George Zoffinger, the CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, recently met with senior officials of MLB to discuss the possibility of bringing a franchise to the Xanadu/Meadowlands Sports Complex. Xanadu, which is a planned 4.76 million-square-foot family entertainment, office and hotel complex to be built at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, also calls for the redevelopment of Continental Airlines Arena (current home of the N.J. Nets and N.J. Devils) and is a joint venture between affiliates of Mills Corporation and Mack-Cali.
The idea of Major League Baseball in New Jersey is not a new one. A long-time hotbed of International League and Negro National League action, the Brooklyn Dodgers relocated a total of 15 games to Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium in 1956 and 1957 as part of an effort to motivate New York City to give ground in difficult negotiations for a new Brooklyn ball park. The state has flirted with the Yankees for the past 20 years. In 1987 New Jersey was finally poised to redevelop the Meadowlands for baseball when voters soundly rejected the notion, a typical action for a state that pulls in so many directions at once that it’s a wonder that it doesn’t tear along the Pennsylvania border and sail down the Delaware into the Atlantic Ocean.
Boone, who recently agreed to a one-year, $5.75 million contract, has freely admitted that the injury he sustained occurred during an activity not related to the playing of, or training for, Major League Baseball. Brian Cashman has already gone on record saying that basketball is a prohibited activity under Boone’s contract. In a fairy tale world of grand rewards for moral behavior, Boone would get credit for admitting his error without having fabricated some Jeff Kent-style story in which he tore up his knee after slipping off the top of Roger Clemens’ Hummer while polishing the foghorn. Unfortunately, New York is the place where contract language trumps contrition every time out; truth is no defense when you’ve signed on the dotted line.