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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
They are supposed to know better in New York, aren't they?
Yankees fans like to portray themselves as some of baseball's most hard-core and knowledgeable. But they showed little understanding of the game or its nuance Wednesday when many of 55,165 at Yankee Stadium booed Mariano Rivera.
"And after everything he's done for this team in this ballpark," pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre told the New York Post. "I was shocked."
Yeah, he blew another save to the Red Sox, and the rivalry between New York and Boston is red hot and the Red Sox beat the Yankees in last season's ALCS and blah, blah, blah.
Fact is, if not for Rivera, the Yankees would not have had their success. Rivera's 336 saves are eighth all time. And it might do well for fans to remember New York managed just four hits in the 7-3 loss, and had it not been for Alex Rodriguez's stone hands, the Yankees might have won and swept the three-game series.
No, instead the experts in the stands, to whom it is more important to scream profanities than understand how the game is played, took out their frustration on the player who in 70 postseason appearances is 8-1 with 32 saves and a 0.75 ERA.
"Maybe," Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina said of the booing, "it was just a case of temporary insanity."
Rivera, always classy, said: "There are always about 20,000 Red Sox fans here when we play them. Maybe it was only Sox fans who were booing."
There are certainly issues about Rivera's performance to discuss.
He decided for the first time last winter not to throw at all. There is speculation his pitch selection (fastball, cutter) is not diverse enough, and he is fooling around with adding a changeup. Some are saying his cutter may be breaking too early, making it easier to pick up. And there are questions, denied, that his elbow might be bothering him.
All good fodder. But booing the player who arguably is the team's long-term MVP? Get over yourselves. Try it on the other side of town with Braden Looper as your closer.
NICE MOVE: Victor Martinez cashed in on a five-year, $15.5-million deal after just one full season in which he led all catchers with 108 RBIs and tied for the lead with 23 home runs. The kicker: the Indians in 1999 switched him from shortstop. "They said it was because they didn't have any catchers in Cleveland," Martinez said. "But when I went to my first spring training, I saw 30 other catchers there. That just made me work even harder to get out of that group."
WHAT'S NEXT?: The Star-Tribune in Minneapolis reported that since the end of last season, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has dealt with appendicitis, chicken pox, pleurisy, pneumonia and the removal of a lymph node from his stomach. He was drilled in the temple Wednesday by a fastball from Seattle's Ron Villone. He was on the ground for a few minutes but left under his own power. A CT scan was negative. "I wasn't dizzy at all," Morneau said. "I've had concussions before. I was once kicked in the back of the head with a hockey skate."
ETC.: Distressed over the eight minor-leaguers caught using performance-enhancing substances, Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said: "It's just stupid and unacceptable." Of the reasoning, also used by the Rays' Alex Sanchez, that there are banned substances in nutritional supplements used by the players, he said: "Anyone who says they didn't know, in my view, it's a copout." John Smoltz's much-ballyhooed return to the Braves rotation didn't go as planned. After allowing the Marlins seven runs (six earned) on six hits, including a grand slam, in 12/3 innings, Smoltz said, "It's the worst feeling in the world. I'm not going to hide that." ... Reds players are wearing gray T-shirts under their uniforms with the words "No Excuses" printed in black across their shoulders. ... GM Dave Littlefield confirmed he used an outside statistical consultant to determine Pittsburgh's batting order. The Pirates opened 0-2. ... Rick Ankiel, once the Cardinals' top pitching prospect, cleared waivers and was signed to a minor-league contract as an outfielder. ... Phillies left-hander Randy Wolf was asked if he was glad spring training was over. "Yeah, it's about time we got into the bad weather. That sun was getting tiring." ... Reds outfielder Wily Mo Pena made a running catch of a batting-practice fly and his momentum sent him through an open bullpen door. Pena, 6 feet 3, 245 pounds, slipped on a cement sidewalk and went down - hard. "Did you see Pena go down?" first baseman Sean Casey said. "Man that has to hurt - the cement. I feel sorry for the cement."
Information from other news organizations was used in the report.