Yankee Diary #2
In this edition of Yankee Diary, Michael Carlucci discusses Graig Nettles, how hating the Yankees is anti-American, and who else may have been using steroids.
March 13, 2006
You know you're nearing the end of useful programming when you see a Yankeeography on Graig Nettles. Don't get me wrong -- I like Nettles. He's just not a fertile topic for an hour-long love fest. After you talk about his home run title and his great defense in the World Series against the Dodgers, you're spent. Let's see if I can boil him down to his essence. He hit 32 homers in 1976, which led the American League. He won 2 Gold Gloves ('77 & '78), was nicknamed Puff, and wrote a book called "Balls." His lifetime OPS was .750 which is not bad for the pre-steroid era in which he played, but he ain't Mike Schmidt. He played for 22 seasons on six different teams. Much to his credit, his best years were with the Yankees. There -- I saved you an hour.
I didn't see the entire Yankeeography, but I'd be interested in a discussion of the unusual spelling of his first name (it's pronounced "Greg," for those of you who don't know). My wife's name has a similar oddity, being spelled Debora without either dropping the O or adding an H. It sometimes confuses people, but one woman recently erred in a unique way. She wrote my wife a memo and twice addressed her as "Bebora." I don't know if that amuses you, but I think it's the most hilarious thing I've ever seen. Bebora! And the lady wrote that twice.
March 18, 2006
Hating the Yankees -- an unpleasantly common affliction -- is no different than hating America. Think about it: both have been disproportionately successful, and both are reviled for it. Before either America or the Yankees were born, other groups suffered the same fate.
My wife has felt this kind of hatred. When she was little, some neighborhood kids threw pennies at her, attempting to mock her Jewish heritage. They laughed, proud of their wit and powerful social statement. Honestly, did they expect to her to excitedly pick them up and run in to her parents, crying "Look, I got money!!!!" At least those kids were just kids. Not long ago a doctor asked me, upon learning my last name, if I had any family in the mafia. You'd be surprised how often I get this. Maybe there really is a Carlucci in the mafia somewhere. Anyway, my usual response is to say, "yes, so be careful when you start your car." It is not that I am offended by the Italian slur. I am offended by the lazy comedy. Any idiot can link an Italian to the mafia or throw pennies at Jews. Take potshots all you want, but be original. David Sedaris (the funniest writer in the world) explained how his sister was given a week off so that her Italian bosses could attend a week-long annual family event that occurs in October. She said it should be called "Woptoberfest." I remember struggling to breathe after reading that line, I laughed so hard.
But Yankee hatred, the venomous Yankee hatred that Mets and Red Sox fans have always felt, is at a peak because of the Yankees' recent success. It is part of the trappings of exceptional achievement. As Wilt Chamberlain said, "Nobody roots for Goliath." Instead, even when the Yankees win, fans complain, citing the Yankees' unfair monetary advantage. These are people whose favorite teams spend more than literally every team except the Yankees, and they complain about money.
March 22, 2006
You have to laugh at people who express outrage over the recent Barry Bonds steroid allegations. This should not be a shocking revelation. Has anyone with eyes doubted that Bonds' transformation from a wiry five-tool superstar to a muscle-bound, other-worldly slugger came courtesy of "performance enhancements"?
Bonds is a non-story. The real story is that so many other players not connected to BALCO have gotten a free pass. It's not enough to throw up one's hands and say there's no proof. That's the point of an investigation: to uncover the truth. I'm not suggesting a witch hunt, but journalists have missed some obvious clues (Brady Anderson hitting 50 homers; Trot Nixon gaining 25 pounds in the winter before his best season in the majors). Rather than covering the McGwire-Sosa home-run chase as a feel-good story, there should have been more critical analysis.
Here are a couple stories I'd like to see pursued.
Everyone is angry at Rafael Palmeiro after his finger-wagging lie. People grew even angrier when he appeared to blame Miguel Tejada's injectible Vitamin B12. As far as I can tell, no one has questioned why Tejada needs injectible B12. You need a prescription for it, and there are very few conditions where it would be appropriate. Needless to say, a young healthy athlete is unlikely to have such a condition. Of course, Major League Baseball tested whatever Tejada provided and it came back clean. But is there any way to prove that Tejada gave them what he was actually injecting? And did they really test it or did they only look for substances explicitly banned in the Collective Bargaining Agreement?
David Ortiz, the out-of-nowhere behemoth, has never been accused of any wrong-doing either. But check out this link. Scroll down a bit and see two photos, one from 1997 and another from 1999. He's not the bloated, textbook example of steroid excess he is today.
I don't have any proof on Tejada, Ortiz, Anderson or Nixon (or anything on any of the many others). But really, are we that stupid?
Michael Carlucci's column, "Yankee Diary," appears alternate Mondays