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Darryl Strawberry, Character Witness!


If anyone caught another Dan Patrick-less Show yesterday, it was classic ESPN-in-full-Yankee-defense mode.

 

This past week, the reprehensible Gary Sheffield played the race card again, directing his anger at Joe Torre. Kenny Lofton corroborated the story, and Sheffield also mentioned that Tony Womack could, too.

 

Now I'm not here to agree/disagree with a man I revile as the Most Hated Brewer Ever.

 

But what I do take issue with, is ESPN seizing upon a potentially inflammatory issue, which also, happily, involves the New York Yankees, and taking sides on what could have been a straight reporting story.

 

Journalistically, it's OK to cover the story, no question. But what they did yesterday was to blatantly side with Torre, and by extension of course, Steinbrenner and the Yankees.

 

By not-so-sheer coincidence, their choice to replace Dan Patrick was Yankee announcer/company man Michael Kaye. And Kaye was shameless. He chimed in with "...the story of the UTMOST (!) importance today is the Gary Sheffield matter, where he said..."

 

Then Kaye took aim (paraphrasing). "This is a guy (Sheffield) who bounces from team to team, and you've got to wonder why. And Lofton? He was bittter, because he wasn't producing in New York. Womack? He was at the tail-end of his career as a Yankee, and was being replaced by Robinson Cano, so I could see his agenda."

 

When reminded by a producer that Womack hasn't issued a statement either way yet, Kaye backstepped from Tony a bit, but he was still slobbering:

 

"I've known Joe Torre for 12 years now, and you'll never find a nicer guy in baseball. Fair-minded, never played favorites... And after this break, we're going to chat with a guy who's played for Joe Torre, and who's genuinely a great guy, Darryl Strawberry!!"

 

When he built up that introduction, I thought he'd bring in a Bernie Williams or a Scott Brosius or even St. Paul of O'Neill. But migod, Kaye's character witness is none other than a wife-beating, multiple drug offender, who has been (still is?) employed by the Yankees as something of a mascot, after Don Zimmer vacated the post. Someone who unfailingly, will defend Torre, Cashman, Steinbrenner, Costanza...anyone in the front office.

 

To no one's surprise, Strawberry made Torre out to be a cross between Abraham Lincoln and Medgar Evers.

 

Again, Sheffield is wrong to play the race card yet again, but I just wonder, if it were, say, Eric Wedge or Manny Acta (or any other manager, doesn't matter) who was accused of singling out certain players based on the color of their skin, ESPN would pounce on the story, but would they give the manager the same resources they have available to them, to defend him? We know that answer...

"So if this fruit's a Brewer's fan, his ass gotta be from Wisconsin...(or Chicago)."
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I agree with you. If it was any other team they would have been very careful when addressing any racial accusation. Like when Shef alledged racism with the Brewers when it came to his treatment vs Spires. Somehow the YES network took over ESPN and no one told us. If there is one guy whose racism accusations have lost any sort of credibility it's Shef. I especially liked his comment on Jeter not being black enough. One of my favorite lines about being black enough came from one of my roomates in college about TIger Woods mixed race. If he stole your wallet he most certainly would have been called a black man. The same applies to this case.
There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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I wonder what Dwight Gooden would have to say seeing as he had a bit of a resurrgence for the Yankees and grew up with Sheffield - actually, Dwight is Gary's uncle isn't he?
"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006
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I didn't see the TV stuff, but there was an SI article and I thought it was pretty straight forward. Torre's plays favorites. His favorites are the players that got him rings. As it happens there is a number of black players who helped Torre get rings and they tended to be treated well by Torre. The story strikes me as very keeping with human behavior and highly plausible. Similarly Sheff displays that quintessential characteristic of humans to not bother thinking about how others may be approaching the situation and assume that being treated differently couldn't possible have anything to do with his own behavior.
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I heard someone talking aobut this on the radio a couple days ago can't remeber who but he said when Torre does call out some players in front of the team and other in private. Just not for the reason Shef thinks. He does it with one of the top players on the team because he feels he would lose credibility with his players if he called out the lesser players. He felt Torre may have not understood Shef would not take his intent the right way. If true how could Torre not have understood a guy who couldn't be happy anywhere for more than a year befoer he found issues with people there was going to be fine with getting called out?
There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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First of all, Homer, you make a great point. I WOULD like to hear Dwight Gooden's take on this matter. He's an ex-Yankee (they DO tend to amazingly pile up the drug abusers don't they?), and a relative of Sheffield. But they didn't seek out HIS opinion, because I'd bet he'd defend his nephew, and that would be in contrast with their pro-Yankee stance.

 

"Torre's plays favorites. His favorites are the players that got him rings. As it happens there is a number of black players who helped Torre get rings and they tended to be treated well by Torre."

 

In 2001, after no Yankees were votes to start by the fans, Torre went to work, naming 6 Yankees out of the remaining 22 choices...leaving 8 teams (half of the AL!) to be represented by only 1 player. So when Darryl Strawberry goes on about how fair-minded Torre has always been, you need look no further than the fact that Torre picked only ONE Red Sox player, but added Mike Stanton to be an All-Star that year!

"So if this fruit's a Brewer's fan, his ass gotta be from Wisconsin...(or Chicago)."
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I'm not a big fan of Joe Torre...never really have been. That said, I think he has to have the most difficult job in baseball, possibly outside the home plate ump for Game 7 of the World Series. The guy is given a team full of past-their-prime overpaid all-stars and basically told that with this team, he damn well better win. For years it seemed like Torre was praised for his ability to keep huge egos in check, and it would seem that's all he has to do to win.

 

But Sheffield is nothing like Jeter or A-rod or Clemens or Randy Johnson. If there was controversy stirring around those guys, it was usually more media-based, and had less to do with the actual reactions of the players. Shef strikes me as one of those players that realizes that the camera hasn't been on him for awhile, so he better do something about it, and what better way than to play the race card.

 

I don't know, maybe my opinions on Sheffield are biased based on the grudge that I most likely still hold against him, but all of this just sounds wrong. I'm sure Torre calls out guys like Jeter in front of the rest of the team because it shows the other guys that he'll call out anyone at any time. Maybe A-rod gets a pass because he's called out enough by the fans so Torre lets it slide in the locker room. Torre could have a million reasons why he calls out certain players the way he does, and unless he uses "choice" words when calling them out, I see no reason to just decide that it's based on race.

 

Edit: Pretty sure I said nothing about Strawberry's appearance, but I must have missed the original thread about Sheffield and I needed to get it out...sorry

If I had Braun's pee in my fridge I'd tell everybody.

~Nottso

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If anyone would look at Strawberry (He actually works for the Mets now and not the Yankees) and not want to hear his opinion because he's an ex-convict drug user (which is not a reason why someone still wouldn't know about a team that he was a major part of for several seasons), then you would not want to hear Gooden for all of the same reasons. That being said, Torre seems like the kind of manager whose ability to relate to certain players and not relate to others is based upon performance. Sheffield's comments on race seem trite, petty, and below someone of his longevity in the game. Not sure on the deal with Lofton, but I am guessing that Reggie Jackson, Bob Watson, Derek Jeter, Tim Raines, and Willie Randolph- all men who Torre has worked closely with before Sheffield was anywhere new New York, would object to the idea that he treats blacks differently then whites in the clubhouse.
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