WINDY DAY AT SHEA
Gary Carter‘s return to Shea last week to commemorate his induction into Cooperstown found the insufferably effusive retired catcher in rare form. When a reporter casually asked to look at his Hall of Fame ring, Carter not only discoursed on all his baseball-related jewelry (“I got an All-Star ring this year, which is a nice one for my pinky”), but also offered a detailed rundown of his last will and testament. (“My son gets the World Series ring . . . my wife gets the Hall of Fame ring—that’s if I go first, of course.”) Fittingly, when someone asked guest Davey Johnson for memories of Carter during the team’s glory days, the former Met manager laughed: “The moments that stood out for me were when I tried to rest him. First he’d be all over me in the clubhouse, asking why wasn’t he in the lineup, and then the sucker would be in my face all day long in the dugout, too, making me miserable.”
Johnson, who in 1984 inherited a Met team that had averaged over 90 losses the previous seven seasons and put them atop the baseball world within three years, says he agrees with the Mets’ current youth movement and with GM Jim Duquette‘s aggressive re-stocking of the farm system. “By and large, the teams I had were homegrown,” said Johnson, whose Met clubs finished no lower than second during his six-year-plus tenure and who remains the winningest manager in team history. “People may not realize it, but during all those good years, we didn’t sign one significant free agent. I think the nucleus of a team needs to be developed from within. Look at the Yankees. To me, their biggest strength is the homegrown talent up the middle—Posada, Jeter, Williams, and now Soriano. If the Mets do the same with Reyes, Phillips, Duncan, and some of the other young players, they’ll be back sooner than you think.” —Billy Altman
At a kickoff for the 42nd World Archery Target Championship last month in Van Cortlandt Park and Central Park, male and female Robin Hoods fired at apples, strawberries, and other edibles outside Tavern on the Green. This battle of the sexes—the stuff of high drama on the PGA Tour—was a mere sideshow, because archers competed strictly within their gender divisions.
But what a sideshow. Throughout the individual finals, top men and women racked up similar scores. Then the two U.S. compound teams staged a surprise shoot-off after each won gold. On the women’s team was Mary Zorn, winner of the individual women’s event with a score of 115. On the men’s team was Dave Cousins, edged out of the individual gold medal in a tiebreaker after scoring 114. The announcer hastily declared the face-off a draw, but coach Robert Romero inspected the targets and said the men had actually won by a point.
With results that close, is archery ready to go unisex? “It’s something I’d like to see,” says Zorn. “I don’t see it happening for a while, but I think it could eventually.” Women archers have gained ground, but men tend to score higher overall and still qualify by shooting a greater distance. Confronting the general male dominance, she says, would “discourage a lot of women.”
Asked whether he’d like to see more male-female play, Cousins is quick to answer: “Absolutely. Why not?” But lesser bowmen might not like it. “I’m sure that some men are very pleased that we compete in two different divisions,” chuckles Pascal Colmaire of FITA, the International Archery Federation. FITA official Raoul Theeuws says the federation has considered mixed teams. But neither he nor Colmaire expects such a change to occur soon. —David Marc Fischer
During the All-Star break, the Daily News unveiled its All-Time Yankee Team in a massive package. Though the paper solicited and recorded votes from readers, it ignored them in favor of its “Blue Ribbon Panel” of what it called “Yankee historians.” Maybe that wasn’t so wise. The elite and the unwashed both made some bad choices, but sometimes the masses were smarter than the experts.
A quarter of the fans thought that Ruth wasn’t the best Yankee right fielder or that Gehrig wasn’t the best first baseman, but at least the majority picked the right legends in those slots. At shortstop, the experts astonishingly chose offensive cipher Phil Rizzuto over the far more productive people’s choice, Derek Jeter—even Rizzuto squawked at that. And the experts unanimously chose overhyped Joe DiMaggio over somewhat superior Mickey Mantle, while the ordinary folks split their vote more plausibly, 46 percent to 45 percent.
Both groups named Dave Winfield as the left fielder, even though he played 65 percent of his Yankee career in right. If you’re going to fudge outfield positions, it would be better to make Mantle the left fielder.
Generally, the public tended to favor recent players, while the experts went for older ones. Who was on the panel? Mostly older folks in the media, including an ex-Yankee PR director, a cartoonist, broadcasters, and scribes—plus the paper’s lame-duck 66-year-old editor-in-chief, Ed Kosner.
It was a gathering of dinosaurs. There were no real historians, analysts, or sabermetricians, so the questionable choices and conventional wisdom were not really surprising. It’s easy to find better all-time Yankee teams on the Web and in bookstores. —John Pastier