Posted: Tuesday February 28, 2006 3:17PM; Updated: Wednesday March 1, 2006 2:03AM
Here's a gem from the aftermath of the abrupt Berra firing in 1985: "Billy will bring back the feeling that baseball is the players' primary interest. This team is going to get down to the business of playing baseball and forget about the extracurricular activities. These fellows are going to toe the line. They won't be rolling into hotel lobbies at 3 a.m. drunk."
In the following weeks and months: Don Mattingly and Dale Berra were pinched by police in Kansas City for taking a tinkle in a public place, and the crowd at Yankee Stadium was riled by the repeated replay of a disputed call by umpire Ken Kaiser on the Diamond Vision board (the umps threatened to leave the field). Martin did his part by having a set-to with a newlywed in a bar after informing the lucky groom that his blushing bride had a pot belly and a fat ass. That nicety was followed by Martin's drunken brawl with pitcher Ed Whitson the next night at the Cross Keys Inn in Baltimore.
True to George's word, though, that Pier Sixer took place at 12:20 a.m., not 3 in the morning.
Yes, not even George gets it wrong all the time. In June '79, he met with Martin, who had been in a scuffle with sportswriter Ray Hagar in Reno the previous winter. The Yanks were struggling, and George wanted to bring back Billy the Kid for Round 2. He just needed assurance that Martin had mellowed and grown more responsible.
"When you're eyeball to eyeball for 3½ hours, if you're any kind of a leader, you can tell there's been a change," Steinbrenner declared. "There's been a change."
Then he added, "I may end up with egg on my face."
You want them eggs fried or scrambled, Boss? The following October, Martin punched out a marshmallow salesman in Bloomington, Minn.
Yes, siree. If you're a fan of the Red Sox -- or any other team, for that matter -- you gotta be feelin' pretty darn good right about now.
Lost in the continuous Super Bowl and Olympic hoopla was the announcement that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are contemplatin' changing their name to the Tarpons. If they do, won't you be on the edge of your barcalounger in anticipation of the historic moment when a tongue-tied broadcaster calls them the Tarpa Bay Tampons?
Come back, Ralph Kiner. I think we're going to need you!