JT: It's a safety factor. Manny was of a mind, Just let me take batting practice. I encouraged him to play games. If he's going to miss 50 games, then he's going to have to do something. And to me, supervised something is better than having him do it on his own, because then you're risking injury. I have to agree with allowing them to get into baseball shape if they're going to be suspended for 50 games.
DP: How do you know when Manny is ready to play?
JT: [laughs] When July 3rd comes.
DP: Do you take more pride in wins this year? With the Yankees it seemed like you were supposed to win. Now you get a little more credit. Is that a fair assessment?
JT: The expectation after the first couple of years [in New York] is eventually what got to me. Especially after getting to the World Series in 2001 and 2003 and not winning it—and that was [considered] a disappointment. I had a lot of trouble delivering the message to the players that it was a disappointment, because I was with them as they fought their way to the postseason. If you win every year and get deep into the postseason, I guess it's human nature that expectations are high. It's a little fresher out here for me. But the 12 years in New York are something I would never change. It was a wonderful experience.
Count Football Night in America analyst Rodney Harrison among those who have had enough of the Brett Favre retirement saga. The former safety, who didn't hedge when he retired in June, told me that players around the NFL see the league's alltime leading passer as "selfish" for bringing so much attention to himself. Harrison added, "If you've been in the league 13, 14, 15 years, you know if you want to play. The circus shouldn't have to go on for three or four years."
Following the blockbuster trade that united Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James (page 44), I asked listeners for new nicknames for Shaq in Cleveland. The best:
10. The Big Second Fiddle