Bernie and the Brewers

by

A Sorry Sight

It’s not quite watching Willie Mays play for the Mets, which I’m told was just dreadful, but watching the devolution of Bernie Williams as a ballplayer is pretty sad. Bernie, once a gold-glove outfielder, now looks lost in centerfield (when he actually gets to play out there). His play is so bad the Yanks are experimenting with Tony Womack in center. His hitting has also been paltry. He hit as well as .333 as recently as 2002, but is now stuck at .243. Once a fixture in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup, he is now relegated mostly to pinch hit duties for the ninth-place hitter.

This isn’t especially newsworthy; watching a once great player’s skills erode is one of the poignant countermelodies to sports’ celebration of youth. Yet, watching Bernie struggle seemed to me symbolic of the death of the great Yankees teams from the late 90’s. Bernie was part of the home-grown heart of that club, and did as much as Derek Jeter to produce for it in the postseason. Those teams had their share of free agents, but at the heart of it was a chemistry and professionalism that seems utterly absent from the current team. There was the fire of Paul O’Neill, the charisma of Jeter, the mystique of Mo Rivera, and the class of Williams. Williams wasn’t Joe DiMaggio, but he did carry himself with Joe D’s dignity and was as responsible as anyone in winning four rings in five years. He’s probably not a hall of famer, but he was a great player on some great teams and deserves to go out better than this.

Serving notice

If the Milwaukee Brewers are ever, ever going to be good, it will happen in the next several years. This is because perhaps the two premiere hitting prospects in the game have joined the Brewers and are ready to begin their assault on NL pitchers. Ricky Weeks and Prince Fielder both provided a taste of what’s to come this Sunday in an interleague showdown with the Twins this Saturday. Weeks, a second base prospect stepped in against Johan Santana waggling his bat like Gary Sheffield (who also began his career as a middle infielder with the Brewers), and proceeded to deposit a pitch from baseball’s best pitcher in the leftfield seats at Miller Park. Later in the same game, Fielder, who’s built like daddy Cecil but swings from the left side, hit a three run homer the opposite way off lefty reliever Jesse Crain.

These kids look like the real deal at the plate, and could form a Yount/Molitor-like foundation for the Beermen to build around. With Carlos Lee already swinging a hot stick and Ben Sheets anchoring the rotation, there’s reason for hope in Milwaukee; strange as that seems.

All Stars

Here’s my feeble attempt at an All Star roster for each league, including one from each team. You get a 32 man roster on both sides, apparently, so here goes:

NL

C Paul LoDuca, Fla; Mike Piazza, NYM
1B Derrek Lee, ChC; Albert Pujols, StL; Nick Johnson, Wash
2B Jeff Kent, LA; Chase Utley, Phi
3B Morgan Ensberg, Hou; Aramis Ramirez, ChC
SS Felipe Lopez, Cin; Bill Hall, Mil
OF Andruw Jones, Atl; Miguel Cabrera, Fla; Preston Wilson, Col
OF Bobby Abreu, Phi; Jim Edmonds, StL; Moises Alou, SF
OF Carlos Lee, Mil; Jason Bay, Pit
P Dontrelle Willis, Fla; Roger Clemens, Hou; Pedro Martinez, NYM; Roy Oswalt, Hou; Livan Hernandez, Wash; Chad Cordero, Wash; Jason Isringhausen, StL; Billy Wagner, Phi; Brandon Webb, Ari; Jake Peavey, SD; Adam Eaton, SD; Cris Carpenter, StL; John Smoltz, StL

Close call between Matt Morris and Smoltz; gave it to Smoltz on ERA and wins. Usually more closers get picked, but there aren’t that many great ones this year. I don’t see how managers do this when they’re saddled with the ridiculous people fans vote on. I’d start Albie at DH. Cliff Floyd and Pat Burrell were hard to leave off, but I had to take a Rockie and Giant.

AL

DH David Ortiz, Bos; Travis Hafner, Cle
C Jason Varitek, Bos; Brandon Inge, Det
1B Mark Teixeira, Tex; Paul Konerko, CWS; Mike Sweeney, KC
2B Brian Roberts, Bal; Alfonso Soriano, Tex; Jorge Cantu, TB
3B Alex Rodriquez, NYY; Melvin Mora, Bal; Eric Chavez, Oak
SS Miguel Tejada, Bal; Michael Young, Tex
OF Vladimir Guerrero, LAA; Gary Sheffield, NYY
OF Manny Ramirez, Bos; Torii Hunter, Min
OF Johnny Damon, Bos; Jermaine Dye, CWS
P Roy Halladay, Tor; Mark Buehrle, CWS; Kenny Rogers, Tex; Jon Garland, CWS; Bartolo Colon, Ana; Eddie Guardado, Sea; Bob Wickman, Cle; Joe Nathan, Min; Matt Clement, Bos; Johan Santana, Min; Dustin Hermanson, CWS

One benefit of playing in KC is that Mike Sweeney’s virtually assured an All-Star spot every year. Biggest name missing? Ichiro! Just having an off year. Probably too many Rangers; Arlington inflates stats nearly as bad as Coors Field. Still, Teixeira, Young and Soriano are all excellent players, and I left off Dellucci and Mench. Lots of Sox of both colors.

NBA Draft

I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention, but a couple of things stood out to me. Ike Diogu at #9 is puzzling. He’s a solid power forward, but I think Sean May is clearly a better prospect and May went at 13. I didn’t see him in the first round on anyone’s draft board. I don’t understand the Rockets picking Luther Head at all. They have so many 2-guards they had to shift McGrady to the 3, so naturally they pick another shooting guard. Also, they could badly use a physical power forward, and Wayne Simien and Jason Maxiell were still on the board. I just don’t get it.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Bernie and the Brewers”

  1. wedfly Says:

    I always liked Bernie, and found those late 90s Yanks much easier to root for than their $200M counterparts these days.

    But to me, the (generally accepted) notion that Bernie ever played GG-caliber defense is a myth. IMO, he’s an awkward fielder with what we always called a “weenie arm.” His fielding rep is in the same vein as that of Barry Bonds and Tony Gwynn in their late-career personas (‘roid boy and fat guy, respectively), except that Bonds and Gwynn were actually pretty good fielders before their respective bulks (one in the bean, one in the belly) took over. Bernie, sad to say, never was a good fielder, though he somehow developed a reputation that said otherwise.

    Bernie was the epitome of those really successful Yankees teams: quiet, professional, patient at the plate, following the game plan.

  2. DeJon Redd Says:

    Rookie J.J. Hardy doesn’t damage your prognosis either. Kid can play.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: