Craig Calcaterra

Russell Martin

Russell Martin made a point to emulate Derek Jeter . . . and Joey Votto

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It’s not a terrible surprise to read a story about a former Yankees player who learned some lessons from Derek Jeter while they were teammates. Blue Jays’ catcher Russell Martin certainly did, he tells the New York Times. Specifically, the idea of having a regular routine and the notion that, in the middle of the game, you always have to have the attitude that the pitcher you’re facing can’t get you out.

But he also decided, at some point while playing in Pittsburgh, to emulate Joey Votto:

Early last season, during a game against Cincinnati, Martin watched from his crouch as Reds first baseman Joey Votto exasperated the Pirates by fouling off one good pitch after another.

As annoyed as Martin was, he figured that if Votto could do it, so could he. (You might say that was the Jeter in him.) He went back to the Pirates’ bench and declared, “I’m going to do the Joey Votto.”

What Martin meant by that was fighting off pitches he didn’t want and waiting for his pitch. It’s an approach Martin credits for raising his average and his on-base percentage even if it has cost him some power.

Which is pretty hilarious, actually. Talk to your average Marty Brennaman-listening Reds fan and they’ll tell you that’s an awful, awful thing to do. Funny, then, that major league hitters think it’s a pretty spiffy approach.

But I suppose old Marty and Brian from Deerfield Township know better.

Curt Schilling lowers the boom on some men tweeting threats against his daughter

Curt Schilling
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Curt Schilling wrote a proud papa tweet about his daughter being accepted to college and getting to continue to play softball, which she’s played for years. Anyone who is a parent — or anyone who had great, proud parents — have had or have been the recipient of those sorts of feelings before and can certainly relate.

Sadly, a few sick idiots decided it was somehow appropriate to respond with awful, violent and sexually-explicit tweets about Schilling’s daughter. Rape threats and the like. So Schilling took to his blog to call such crap behavior out. And not just to complain, but to identify the jerks saying such things and to display their tweets.

His efforts had results: one of the guys tweeting rape threats and other awful things was fired from a part time job he had as a ticket seller for the Yankees. Another one now has local police investigating his tweets to see if a crime occurred.

I can’t say that I blame Schilling at all. I wish he didn’t have to do this, but given how horrible Twitter is at policing threats of violence against women, he probably did. Lucky for him and his daughter his platform and profile is such that his speaking out like this got some results. Most people aren’t so lucky.

All of that aside, I have no idea what the hell is wrong with people.

Josh Reddick gave up his number to Billy Butler for an X-Box

Oakland Athletics v Toronto Blue Jays
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John Hickey of the Mercury-News reports that Josh Reddick gave up his number 16 to Billy Butler when Country Breakfast signed with the A’s. The price? Not high: “For Reddick, giving up 16 wasn’t a major hardship, particularly since he got a new X-Box from Butler out of it as a token of appreciation.”

John Lackey gave Pat Neshek an autographed Babe Ruth ball when he was traded to the Cardinals last year. A.J. Burnett started a college fund for Daniel McCutchen’s kid in exchange for a number. Julio Borbon once gave Adrian Beltre his number for an expensive watch. Jim Thome gave Alexi Casilla a Rolex. My favorite of all time — which I mention whenever this comes up — was former Giants punter Jeff Feagles who got Plaxico Burress to pay for an outdoor kitchen at his vacation home in Phoenix in exchange for number 17 and — before that — got Eli Manning to send the Feagles’ family on a vacation to Florida in order to give up number 10.

So, in the grand scheme: an X-Box seems a bit . . . light.

I feel like the price was low, though, thanks to some psychology on Butler’s part. Read in the article how he talked about how it was such a duty — he even calls it an “unwritten rule” — for a player to give up his number to a guy with more service time. Which may very well be true, but the way in which Butler talks up that proposition for the article — like it’s a law — makes me wonder if Butler put that pitch to Reddick too. You know, to lean on him some.

And maybe he sold Reddick some undercoating too. Great deal on that undercoating.

The Yankees have a lot of retired numbers. Other teams should try to be more like them.

Retired numbers
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We noted this last month when the Yankees announced that they were retiring a new batch of numbers. Today the New York Times has an article noting that, between all of the retired numbers and having so many players in camp for spring training, options are particularly limited at the moment:

The Yankees’ equipment manager, Rob Cucuzza, keeps a color-coded spreadsheet listing in numerical order which player is assigned to each number. Retired numbers are highlighted in black, and ones that are already taken are in blue. The only numbers currently available are 38, 50, 57 and 69.

As with a lot of things, my thinking has evolved on this stuff in the past few years. I used to think retiring a non-great’s number was kind of silly and I’ll still occasionally make jokes about the number of numbers the Yankees have retired. Such jokes are easy and I LOVE easy jokes. I’m never gonna stop doing that.

But I’ve grown to be quite liberal when it comes to retiring numbers. Rules teams make about the player having to have been inducted into the Hall of Fame or, short of that, having crazy-high standards for number retirement seem silly to me. The more the merrier. A number retirement isn’t some act of God or government. It’s a nice gesture to a player and, really, to the fans who enjoyed that player’s career. Sure, one could say it should only be Mount Rushmore types getting the honor, but it’s not like the only Yankees players fans connected to are Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. You want to retire Jorge Posada’s number? Why not?

If anything, I’d like to see more numbers retired around baseball. It’s a crime that the Tigers haven’t retired Alan Trammell’s 3 and Lou Whitaker’s 1. Maybe public relations concerns keep the Mets from honoring Strawberry and Gooden, but why haven’t they made any gestures towards the 80s teams with which so many fans connect? How about Gary Carter’s 8? How about Keith Hernandez’s 17?

I’m sure fans of any team can point to a couple of players they’d like to see so-honored. A couple of numbers which should be put up on the wall. Maybe not as many as the Yankees have, but a few.

A-Rod went 0-for-2 against a pitching machine today. Chris Young struck out.

Machine
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The Yankees played an intrasquad game today. The fun part: instead of using an actual pitcher, they used a pitching machine. Even more fun: watching the folks who were at the game reporting on the results Yankees hitters had against the pitching machine:

Not great, of course. I mean, A-Rod is trying to win a job as a DH! How can he do that when he can’t hit a pitching machine! Oh, wait. Given that Chris Young’s success will, indirectly, help determine whether or not A-Rod will get a chance to DH against righties, I’d say he’ll be just fine:

Speaking of fine, you know Young will be fined by his teammates’ kangaroo court for whiffing against the machine.

In other news, in case my tone was unclear or misleading, this does not matter. At all. Regarding anything. Just remember that tomorrow when the usual New York suspects make a point to talk about A-Rod’s o-fer.