Results tagged ‘ Joe Torre ’

Yankees deep-6 number for Joe Torre

At the latest number retired in Monument Park (left to right) Joe Torre’s sisters, Sister Marguerite and Rae; his son, Michael; his daughters Andrea and Lauren; his wife, Ali; Joe; Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and his wife, Christina; and Yankees general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.

At the latest number retired in Monument Park (left to right) Joe Torre’s sisters, Sister Marguerite and Rae; his son, Michael; his daughters Andrea and Lauren; his wife, Ali; Joe; Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and his wife, Christina; and Yankees general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.


And then there was one, which is actually two.

Huh?

The discussion is about uniform numbers. The Yankees retired No. 6 for Joe Torre Saturday. It occurred to the popular former manager that the shortstop he brought to the major leagues and nurtured through his early career has another distinction besides being the Yankees’ all-time leader in games played and hits.

Looking into the dugout where Derek Jeter was leaning against the railing from the top step, Torre said to the sellout crowd of 47,594 in the pregame ceremony, “There’s one single digit left out there.”

That would be Jeter’s No. 2, the only single digit not yet retired by the Yankees but definitely will be at some point, perhaps as early as next year following his retirement. Yogi Berra, one of the two No. 8’s retired (fellow catcher Bill Dickey is the other) took part in the ceremony, along with several former players, including two others who have had their uniform numbers retired, Reggie Jackson (44) and Ron Guidry (49).

Berra and Dickey are in that group of single-digit retired numbers that also features Billy Martin (1), Babe Ruth (3), Lou Gehrig (4), Joe DiMaggio (5), Mickey Mantle (7) and Roger Maris (9). So DJ now stands alone.

Torre, his wife Ali and other members of the family began the ceremony in Monument Park where he unveiled his number and plaque alongside Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal. They eventually made their way to the center of the field for the ceremony amid former players David Cone, Hideki Matsui, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte; former coaches Guidry, Willie Randolph, Jose Cardenal and Lee Mazzilli; longtime managers Tony La Russa (who was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year with Torre) and Jim Leyland; former trainer Gene Monahan and Jackson.

An especially nice touch was Jeter escorting Jean Zimmer from the dugout to the field. Known by her nickname, “Soot,” she is the widow of the late Don Zimmer, Joe’s longtime bench coach. There was also a touching video message from former Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who was unable to travel to the event.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who served for Torre both as a catcher and a bench coach, presented his old boss with a framed version of his Monument Park plaque. Hal Steinbrenner and his wife, Christina, presented a framed version of No. 6. Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal on behalf of the organization gave Torre a diamond ring with No. 6 embossed in the center.

Observing all this from the visitor’s dugout was another of Torre’s former players, White Sox manager Robinb Ventura.

“It feels like the World Series all over again,” Torre told the crowd. “To have a number retired for any team is something special, but when you’re talking about the history and tradition of the New York Yankees, it is a feeling you can’t describe. There wouldn’t have been a Cooperstown without Yankee Stadium. I want to thank Randy Levine, Lonn Trost and Brian Cashman and the woman behind the scenes, Debbie Tymon, who does so much for this organization. Arthur Richman mentioned my name to George, but it was Stick Michael who recommended me for the job.”

And what a job Torre did. The Yankees reached postseason play in all 12 of his managerial seasons and won six pennants and four World Series, including three in a row from 1998-2000.

Torre acknowledged his gratitude to the late owner George Steinbrenner for taking Gene Michael’s advice and hiring him despite a resume that included mediocre results as a manager with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals, the same three clubs for whom he had played during a 16-season career. The kid from Brooklyn who grew up a New York Giants fan clearly fell in love with the pinstripes.

“George gave me the greatest opportunity in my professional life,” Torre said, “I played in the majors for 16 years, but they could never match my 12 years in Yankees pinstripes. I will be forever grateful to the Steinbrenner family for trusting me with this team.

“One thing you never forget or lose feeling for are you people, all of you people, and it continues. I walk around and people thank me. They don’t realize what a good time i had. New York fans make this city a small town. When you get to this ballpark you feel the heartbeat, and it’s something that does not go away.

“It’s a short distance from the old Stadium to here but a long, long way from the field to Monument Park. I was blessed to make that journey on the shoulders of some very special players.”

In his previous managerial stops, Torre had worn No. 9, but he could not get that with the Yankees because it had been retired for Maris. Early in his playing career with the Braves, Torre wore No. 15 (his brother, Frank, had No. 14), but that was also not available with the Yankees since it was retired in honor of the late Thurman Munson.

Actually, Torre is one of four Hall of Famers who have worn No. 6 for the Yankees. Some fans may not know that Mickey Mantle wore No. 6 as a rookie in 1951 before switching to 7 the next year. Tony Lazzeri was the Yankees’ first No. 6, followed by his successor at second base, Joe Gordon.

Perhaps some karma was in the air because the Yankees second baseman Saturday, Martin Prado, was a huge factor in their 5-3 victory over the White Sox that was a fitting accompaniment to the afternoon.

Prado, who won Friday night’s game with a walk-off single in the ninth inning, had a part in four of the Yankees’ runs Saturday. His bunt single in the second helped build a run that subsequently scored on a double play. He drove in two runs in the fourth with the first of his two doubles in the game. He also doubled in the sixth and scored on a fly ball by Stephen Drew. Carlos Beltran drove in the other Yanks’ run in the sixth with his 15th home run.

Perhaps the only thing more appropriate would have been if the Yankees had scored six runs. What is definitely appropriate is that the number was retired for the person who wore it the longest, one more year than the player who had it for 11 seasons, Roy White (1969-79).

Now all that awaits is the day when Jeter, who got a rare day off Saturday, completes the single-digit retirement.

Scoring decision changes historic hits

Most fans may not realize that on a nightly basis there are gripes galore about official scorers’ decisions. The compromise reached in the recent collective bargaining agreement that allows players (and/or their agents) to call for review of questionable calls rather than the clubs alone is proving to be a major headache and could be under review during the next CBA talks.

Routinely, calls come before executive vice president for baseball operations Joe Torre for review, which I am sure have become a major nuisance. The latest example was the infield single Derek Jeter got in the first inning Aug. 8 against the Indians at Yankee Stadium that we all thought was the hit that tied him with Hall of Famer Honus Wagner for sixth place on the career list. It turns out that the play was reversed with an error charged to Cleveland’s shortstop, Jose Ramirez.

Jeter did not get all that bent out of shape about the whole thing. After all, he has long since passed Wagner and appears to be in position to be sixth on the all-time list for quite a long time. Jeter has the ball that he thought tied Wagner and the ball that did tie Wagner, plus the ball that passed Wagner. It is all ancient history as far as DJ is concerned.

But how chintzy was Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer to take issue with what was a borderline call on an historic play. Granted, the ruling change meant that only two of the runs he gave up in that game were earned instead of all five (in 3 1/3 innings yet; let’s face it, it was not his day).

Complaining about official scorers’ calls is as old as the game. I know of coaches who habitually berated official scorers during and after games. Perhaps the most famous example was the father of a shortstop who was charged with only three errors in 161 games of the 1990 season and was a coach on his son’s team (you will not need more than one guess).

Occasionally an official scorer would review his decision and make a correction. He or she may have been coerced, but it was not to the level it has become under current conditions. Now every agent in the big leagues can pick up a phone and talk his client into lodging a protest over a questionable decision. While I am all in favor of an appellate court to sort out such disputes, the volume under the new system has proved troublesome.

Even the Major League Players Association, which pushed for this system, is starting to have second thoughts, largely because the beefs often pit teammates against each other. For every pitcher protective of his earned run average is a fielder protective of his reputation as a defender. In most cases, one player is appeased while two are miffed. In this case, Bauer is happy, but Jeter and Ramirez are not.

How can that be a good thing?

Torre tribute to highlight homestand

Joe Torre will have his uniform number retired Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Joe Torre will have his uniform number retired Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

A tribute to former manager and new Hall of Famer Joe Torre, whose uniform No. 6 will be retired, will be at the center of the Yankees’ homestand that began Tuesday night with the opener of a three-game series against the Astros to be followed by a three-game set against the White Sox.

Joe Torre Day is scheduled for Saturday. Torre will not only have his number uniform retired but also will be honored with a plaque in Monument Park, the fourth new one this year joining Goose Gossage, Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill. Family members, former players and other guests are expected to participate. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by noon.

Torre spent 12 seasons as Yankees manager from 1996 through 2007. He led the team to six World Series appearances (1996, ’98-2001, ’03) and four championships (1996, ’98-2000). He compiled a regular-season record of 1,173-767-2 (.605), a postseason mark of 76-47 (.618) and guided the club to the playoffs in each of his managerial seasons. Torre’s Yankees teams went 21-11 in the World Series, 27-14 in the American League Championship Series and 28-22 in the AL Division Series. His regular-season victory total is second in club history to Joe McCarthy, who had a 1,460-867 (.627) record over 16 seasons.

Ticket specials will run Tuesday, (Military Personnel Game), Wednesday, (Military Personnel and Student Game), Thursday, (MasterCard half-price, Military Personnel and Senior Citizen Game) and Saturday (Youth Game).

For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

The homestand will also feature the following promotional items and dates:

Tuesday, August 19 – Yankees vs. Astros, 7:05 p.m.
Yankees USB Car Charger Night, presented by Avis, to first 18,000 customers, 21 and older.

Wednesday, August 20 – Yankees vs. Astros, 7:05 p.m.
Joe Girardi Bobblehead Night, presented by AT&T, to first 18,000 customers.

Thursday, August 21 – Yankees vs. Astros, 1:05 p.m.
Masahiro Tanaka Poster Day, presented by Catch 24 Advertising, to first 18,000 customers, 14 and younger.

Friday, August 22 – Yankees vs. White Sox, 7:05 p.m.
Yankees Water Bottle Night, presented by Budweiser, to first 18,000 customers, 21 and older.

Sunday, August 24 – Yankees vs. White Sox, 1:05 p.m.
Yankees Hello Kitty Bobblehead Day, presented to first 18,000 customers, 14 and younger.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for Yankees fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES (926-5337) or email tickets@yankees.com.

O’Neill finds deserving spot in Monument Park

Paul and Nevalee O'Neill unveil Monument Park plaque (USA Today photo)

Paul and Nevalee O’Neill unveil Monument Park plaque (USA Today photo)

Chants of “Paul O-Neill” returned to Yankee Stadium Saturday as the popular right fielder dubbed “The Warrior” by the late George Steinbrenner was honored on the field before the game to mark the dedication of a plaque that will hang in Monument Park, the 29th in that special gallery.

I do not know how many people thought such a day was possible back in 1993 when O’Neill joined the Yankees. Several National League scouts I talked to that spring wondered if O’Neill had the temperament for New York or that he was too temperamental to succeed under the glare of the city and its omnipresent media.

Gene Michael, the general manager at the time, swapped two-time All-Star outfielder Roberto Kelly for O’Neill, who had a .259 career batting average at the time and was known for his clashes with former manager Lou Piniella in Cincinnati. Michael certainly got the last laugh, didn’t he?

O’Neill absolutely blossomed in New York. Coming under the influence of Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs, O’Neill became a more selective hitter and in his second season with the Yankees won the American League batting title with a .359 average. He would go on to bat .303 over his nine seasons in New York and was a central figure in the Yankees’ four World Series titles in 1996, ’98, ’99 and 2000.

During the pre-game ceremony, O’Neill mentioned his daughter, Allie, was born the day before spring training began in 1996, “and to this believes she is the reason for our first championship.”

O’Neill was in the middle of those glorious seasons. There was his running catch on an aching hamstring for the final out of Game 5 of the 1996 World Series; his playing the clinching Game 4 of the ’99 Series 18 hours after the death of his father, Charlie; his 10-pitch at bat in drawing a walk off Mets closer Alfonso Benitez to start the game-tying rally in Game 1 of the 2000 Series, etc.

And, of course, Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, his last game at the Stadium, which he recalled in his speech.

“Now to you fans, a remarkable thing Nov. 1, 2001, Game 5 of the World Series out in right field and 50,000 people singing my name,” he said. “I want to thank you for one of the special nights of my life. Thank you, fans of New York.”

O’Neill’s sons, Andy and Aaron, were also on the field with their mother, Nevalee, and his mother, Virginia. Also participating were Michael, former trainer Gene Monahan, Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre and former teammates David Cone, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.

Two other former teammates, captain Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi, also made presentations to O’Neill on behalf of the team and the organization. Jeter presented a framed version of the plaque and Girardi a career milestone diamond ring with No. 21 in the center.

“The best thing that happened to all of us was playing for the New York Yankees,” O’Neill said.

The plaque reads:

PAUL ANDREW O’NEILL
“THE WARRIOR”

NEW YORK YANKEES
1993 – 2001

AN INTENSE COMPETITOR AND TEAM LEADER, O’NEILL WAS BELOVED FOR HIS RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF PERFECTION.

IN NINE SEASONS WITH THE YANKEES, HE WON FOUR WORLD SERIES AND MADE FOUR ALL-STAR TEAMS, COMPILING A .303 BATTING AVERAGE WITH 185 HOME RUNS AND 858 RBI.

WAS ALSO KNOWN FOR HIS STRONG ARM AND RELIABLE GLOVE IN RIGHT FIELD.

WON 1994 AL BATTING CROWN WITH A .359 AVERAGE.

DEDICATED BY THE
NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 9, 2014

Fans responded to O’Neill’s energy, his blatant disdain for making an out, the all-out, full-throttle effort he gave on a daily basis.

Brandon McCarthy, who pitched well but ended up the losing pitcher in the Indians’ 3-0 victory, paid homage to O’Neill after the game. McCarthy was struck in the left foot by a batted ball but remained in the game. Asked if he thought he might have to come out of the game, McCarthy said, “This is Paul O’Neill Day, not a game to leave early day.”

I remember talking to O’Neill back when people were questioning whether this Ohio Buckeye could handle the pressure of New York where his sister, Molly, was already well known as a food writer for the New York Times.

“What a lot of folks didn’t realize is that it was actually easier for me in New York that it was in Cincinnati,” O’Neill said. “It’s tough to play in your home town. Right from the start, I was accepted here by the fans. I hope I gave back to them as much as they gave to me.”

I would say he did.

Paul O'Neill, Gene Michael, Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada

Paul O’Neill, Gene Michael, Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada

Torre steps into immortality

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — The annual pilgrimage to baseball’s mythical birthplace never ceases in its appeal. It provides the chance to reflect on all that is good about the game as the Hall of Fame opens its doors to a new class of immortals.

And what a class in 2014! Former Yankees manager Joe Torre has more than 300 friends and relatives scattered all over this area to witness his induction Sunday alongside fellow managers Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa as well as pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, the longtime Braves teammates, and first baseman Frank Thomas, one of two players with that name in town.

The other Frank Thomas, who was with the original Mets of 1962, is also here signing autographs on Main Street with Hall of Famers and non-Hall of Famers like Darryl Strawberry and Pete Rose. Also John Rocker, although I must say I have no idea why anyone would want his autograph.

Torre was feted Saturday night by the Yankees and Major League Baseball at a private party in a local brewery. Commissioner Bud Selig and Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner spoke glowingly of Torre’s contributions to the game and the franchise. Joe was gracious in his remarks, a sort of test run for the big speech he will on stage at the Clark Sports Center Sunday.

The city is abuzz with former Yankees here and there, including Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Dave Winfield, Phil Niekro, Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson and Goose Gossage. (Yogi Berra, not feeling well after a recent fall, canceled at the last minute. His boyhood friend from St. Louis, Joe Garagiola, also could not travel here to accept his Buck O’Neill Award Saturday at Doubleday Field but sent a taped message.)

Others here to witness Joe’s induction include actor-comedian Billy Crystal, Yanks chief operating officer Lonn Trost, Gene Michael, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, Lee Mazzilli and others. Among the Hall of Famers who have longstanding relationships with Torre are Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax, plus Tim McCarver, last year’s Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting.

This year’s Frick Award winner, Eric Nadel, the Brooklyn-born Texas Rangers radio voice, gave a lusty speech at Saturday’s ceremony. There was also a wonderful acceptance speech by New Yorker magazine’s ageless (93 actually) Roger Angell, this year’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for baseball writing.

This is perfect company for Torre, whose 12 seasons at the helm of the Yankees continued the franchise’s connection with success. He turned around the attitudes of many a Yankees hater from 1996 through 2007. His ascension into the Hall’s gallery is long overdue.

Tino turned out to be a legend, too

image
The current issue of Yankees Magazine features an article I did on Tino Martinez, who was honored Saturday at Yankee Stadium with a plaque in Monument Park. Tino still couldn’t believe it until he finally got a look at the plaque itself.

​The inscription reads:

CONSTANTINO “TINO” MARTINEZ
NEW YORK YANKEES
1996 – 2001, 2005

KNOWN FOR HIS POWERFUL BAT AND SUPERLATIVE DEFENSE AT FIRST BASE, MARTINEZ WAS A FAN FAVORITE ON FOUR YANKEES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS. HIT TWO OF THE MOST MEMORABLE HOME RUNS IN YANKEES POSTSEASON HISTORY – A GRAND SLAM IN GAME 1 OF THE 1998 WORLD SERIES AND A GAME-TYING, NINTH-INNING HOMER IN GAME 4 OF THE 2001 FALL CLASSIC. AMASSED 192 HOME RUNS AND 739 RBI IN SEVEN SEASONS WITH THE CLUB.

DEDICATED BY THE
NEW YORK YANKEES
JUNE 21, 2014

I was thinking after I finished the interview with him for the piece that I must have talked with Tino hundreds of times and thought I knew everything there was to know about him. But what I was not aware of until that interview was that Martinez wanted to succeed Don Mattingly as the Yankees’ first baseman.

It is always a tough assignment for a player to come to a new team and try to replace a legend. There is an enormous amount of pressure in that situation. This is not to say Martinez did not feel that pressure because he certainly did. He could have avoided it. There were other clubs interested, the Cubs and the Padres specifically, who coveted Martinez if the Mariners indeed were going to trade him after the 1995 season.

The Yankees were, too, of course, and Martinez told his manager, Lou Piniella, that New York was where he wanted to be. That was the part of which I was not aware beforehand. Martinez actually pushed for the trade despite knowing that a huge spotlight would be foisted on him as the man to follow Donnie Baseball.

Tino explains in the article that he had the utmost respect for Mattyingly, but that he was retiring as a player and his team needed a new first baseman. Martinez said he felt it would have been different if Mattingly had become a free agent and signed with another team. The pressure then would have beeb worse. But Mattingly’s retirement left a void, and Martinez was anxious to try and fill it.

He did all the smart things, beginning with not wearing Mattingly’s old uniform No. 23, the same numeral Martinez wore in Seattle. I think Yankees fans appreciated that sign of respect right from the get-go.

Martinez pointed out in the article and reiterated Saturday that he got off to a slow start in ’96 and that fans did not warm up to him immediately. But once he took off, so did the fans, whom he thanked Saturday.

His former manager, Joe Torre, and teammates Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill and David Cone plus former trainer Gene Monahan took part in the pregame ceremony in which Martinez continued to express surprise that he was so honored.

From now on, whenever he comes to Yankee Stadium Tino can stop by Monument Park and see that the plaque is more than a dream.

image

Monument Park plaque for Goose on Old-Timers’ Day

Rich “Goose” Gossage will be honored with a Monument Park plaque dedication at the 68th annual Old-Timers’ Day celebration Sunday, June 22, at Yankee Stadium that will feature 50 former Yankees players and family members.

Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow, which will be aired exclusively on the YES Network. The Yankees will then play the Orioles at 2:05 p.m., also airing on YES. Gates will open to ticket-holding guests at 10 a.m. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 11:15 a.m. for the festivities.

As part of the pre-game ceremonies, the Yankees will unveil a Monument Park plaque for Gossage, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. He pitched in parts of seven seasons with the Yankees (1978-83, ’89) and won a World Series with them in 1978.

In addition to Gossage, the Old-Timers are headlined by Hall-of-Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson, as well as Joe Torre, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. Former Yankees and current YES Network broadcasters David Cone, John Flaherty and Paul O’Neill will also participate.

Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, teammates on the Yankees’ World Series title team in 2009, will make their Old-Timers’ Day debuts along with pitcher John Montefusco, who helped the club produce three seasons of at least 90 victories from 1983-86.

Joining the Hall-of-Famers and former Yankees on the baselines will be the widows of six legendary Yankees – Maggie (Jerry) Coleman, Arlene (Elston) Howard, Helen (Jim “Catfish”) Hunter, Jill (Billy) Martin, Diana (Thurman) Munson and Kay (Bobby) Murcer.

List of those Scheduled to Attend

Jesse Barfield, Yogi Berra, Brian Boehringer, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Maggie Coleman, David Cone, Johnny Damon, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Jake Gibbs, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, Arlene Howard, Helen Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin, Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, Gene Michael, Gene Monahan, John Montefusco, Diana Munson, Kay Murcer, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Andy Phillips, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson, Mickey Rivers, Joe Torre, David Wells, Roy White.

Don Zimmer, a seat-of-the-pants baseball guy

Don Zimmer, who died Wednesday at the age of 83, spent 65 years in professional baseball. With his passing, baseball lost a legend who did not mind admitting that he was old school when it came to running a game from the dugout. He preferred to fly by the seat of his pants, which were unlikely to have a calculator in any of the pockets.

In an interview I did with him about 10 years ago after he left the Yankees and began working as a consultant for the Tampa Bay club, Zim told me, “I don’t think I could manage today if it meant relying so much on statistics. Managing is more than just studying stat sheets. I was told that in Boston they had all the managerial candidates play a simulated game on a computer. Can you see me doing that? I would have had to bring my grandkids along to show me how to work the darn thing.”

Zimmer managed four teams in 13 seasons but none officially since 1991, the year he was fired by the Cubs. As recently as 1999, however, Zimmer was an interim manager for the Yankees while Joe Torre was recovering from surgery for prostate cancer. He never had any ideas about going into the dugout for the Rays.

“Oh, I wouldn’t want the headaches managers have today, which includes having every move scrutinized,” Zim said. “`You see it on TV, hear it on the radio, read it in the newspapers. Somebody is using a mathematical equation to prove why the manager made a dumb move. That’s what I don’t like about all these statistics. Sure, they are a part of the game, and they can be helpful obviously in assessing a player’s ability, but you can’t manage games by numbers alone.

“With the Yankees, they would bring all these charts into Joe’s office, and we’d all go over them. You’d see so-and-so is 4-for-6 against so-and-so. Well, he might have gotten those four hits five years ago before [that pitcher] developed an effective new pitch. A manager has to trust his instincts and play hunches on occasion.

“One thing that gets me about all these experts with their statistics is that they are not out there on the mound with the manager when the pitcher is shaking like a leaf and the blood is draining from his face. Show me a statistic that can combat that.

“Managers need to learn what their players can and cannot do, and the good ones are the best judges of their personnel. Go by the numbers, and you’re taking the easy way out. That just gives a manager an alibi. The heck with that. You live with players day in and day out for six, seven months and you learn which ones can handle themselves under pressure. You’re not going to find that on a computer printout.”

That’s pretty old school, all right. The computer geeks may not abide with Zimmer’s view, but I cannot help thinking that the game lost a treasure of acquired knowledge with his passing.

No sale for Yanks against Sale

Zoilo Almonte may not have realized it, but his single with two out in the sixth inning Thursday night off Chris Sale took pressure off opposing manager Robin Ventura. Before that at-bat, Sale was working on a perfect game as the 6-foot-6 lefthander continued his dominance over the Yankees.

Where Ventura comes in is that Sale was on a strict pitch count. He was making his first start after coming off the disabled list and a left arm flexor injury. The White Sox skipper was likely relieved when Almonte poked his single into center field. Sale kept the shutout in place by striking out Jacoby Ellsbury to end the inning and as it turned out his outing.

Any temptation Ventura might have had in sending Sale out there to keep a perfecto in place went out the window at that point. It reminded me of that game in Oakland in 1996 when David Cone had a no-hitter through seven innings in his first start after coming back from an aneurysm.

Manager Joe Torre refused to risk Cone’s health to let him continue the no-no and took him out. The Athletics broke up the no-hitter in the eighth, but the Yankees held on to win the game. Torre did the right thing, and I think Ventura would have done the same but did not have to face the question.

image
Chris Sale (naplenews.com)

Sale was as unhittable as a pitcher can be. While on rehab at Triple A, he faced 12 batters and struck out 11. Sale treated the Yankees pretty much the same. Other than Almonte’s hit, only one other batted ball off him went to the outfield, not that there were all that many batted balls. Sale had 10 strikeouts and got seven other outs in the infield.

Sadly, the Yankees are getting used to this type of treatment from Sale. His earned run average in eight career appearances against them is 0.85 with a 3-0 record and 40 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. Sale has been even tougher in his five games against them at U.S. Cellular Field where he is 3-0 with a 0.38 ERA and 33 K’s in 23 2/3 innings while holding them to a .125 batting average in 80 at-bats.

For the second straight game, the Yankees came up with a two-run rally in the ninth after being scoreless for eight innings, but this time it only cut the deficit to one run instead of tying the game and sending it into extra innings where they won in the 13th.

A two-out, two-run single by Mark Teixeira off Chicago closer Ronald Belisario got the Yanks on the board finally, but Alfonso Soriano was called out on strikes to leave them one run short.

It was a tough loss for David Phelps to absorb. The righthander gave the weary bullpen a break by going seven innings in an efficient 104 pitches. He gave up two runs in the second after two out on successive doubles by Paul Konerko and Alejandro De Aza and a single by Adam Eaton. Phelps retired the final 10 batters he faced from the fourth through the seventh.

Alfredo Aceves pitched the eighth and gave up what proved an important run for the White Sox. After getting two infield outs following a leadoff double by Gordon Beckham, Aceves yielded a single to Adam Dunn for that valuable third run.

The Yankees have now gone 25 innings without an extra-base hit, a power outage of epidemic proportion.

New additions coming to Monument Park

Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park will continue to expand this year with plaques commemorating the careers of Hall of Fame relief pitcher Goose Gossage, Hall of Fame-elect manager Joe Torre and two of the most popular Yankees players of recent vintage, right fielder Paul O’Neill and first baseman Tino Martinez. The ceremonies are part of a recognition series that will include center fielder Bernie Williams in 2015.

Martinez and Gossage will be celebrated during Old-Timers’ Day weekend – Tino Saturday, June 21, and the Goose Sunday, June 22. O’Neill’s ceremony will take place Saturday, Aug. 9. The ceremony for Torre that will include the retiring of his uniform No. 6 will be Saturday, Aug. 23, in Monument Park.

Acquired by the Yankees in a trade with Seattle prior to the 1996 season, Martinez went on to play in seven seasons with New York (1996-2001, ’05), helping to lead the team to four World Series victories during that time (1996, ’98-2000). He combined to hit .276 with 192 home runs and 739 RBI in his pinstriped career. He is probably best known for his grand slam off the Padres’ Mark Langston in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series at the Stadium that gave the Yanks the lead and helped propel them to their 24th Series title in franchise history.

Gossage, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, played in parts of seven seasons with the Yankees (1978-83, ’89), winning a World Series with the team in 1978. The nine-time All-Star compiled a 42-28 record with a 2.14 ERA with the Yankees, including 151 saves and 512 strikeouts in 319 games. He allowed just 390 hits in 533 innings pitched during his time in pinstripes. Gossage trails only Mariano Rivera (652) and Dave Righetti (224) on the all-time Yankees saves list.

O’Neill, who currently serves as a game analyst for the YES Network, spent the final nine seasons of his 17-year Major League career in the Bronx (1993-2001), winning four world titles in the Bronx (1996, ’98-2000). He concluded his Yankees career with a .303 batting average, 304 doubles, 185 home runs and 858 RBI. O’Neill won the American League batting title in 1994 with a .359 average. Affectionately known as a “warrior” to many of his fans, Paulie played in 235 consecutive games in right field without making an error from July 1995 to May 1997. In 2001, at the age of 38, O’Neill became the oldest player in history to steal 20 bases and hit 20 home runs in the same season.

Currently serving as Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations, Torre spent 12 seasons as Yankees manager (1996-2007). He steered the team to six pennants (1996, ’98-2001, ’03) and four World Series championships (1996, ’98-2000). Torre compiled a 1,173-767 (.605) regular season record and a 76-47 (.618) postseason mark during his Yankees tenure, leading the club to the playoffs in each year that he managed the team. While with the organization, he went 21-11 in the World Series, 27-14 in the ALCS and 28-22 in the ALDS. His regular season wins total is second in club history to only Joe McCarthy, who went 1,460-867 (.627) over 16 seasons.

Torre, who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July, will become only the third manager to have his number retired by the team. The others are Casey Stengel (37) and Billy Martin (1). The No. 8 retired for Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra, both of whom also had stints as Yankees manager, was based on their playing careers as catchers.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers