Junge Gun

Eric JungeNearly seven years ago, Eric Junge pitched five innings of a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in a meaningless September game. In fact, September of 2002 was one of the last few final months that were meaningless for the Phillies. In 2004 all that was left to decide in September was when they would mercifully pull the plug on the managerial career of Larry Bowa.

Those were the days when the pitching coach got punched in the face by a player, and some wondered if it was simply a matter of time until the manager suffered the same fate. Nope, those definitely weren’t the golden days of Phillies baseball.

More like Blood Sport.

Anyway, Eric Junge started and won his first Major League outing over the Pirates in rather dramatic fashion. See, Junge was finished pitching for the year after going 12-6 with a 3.54 in Triple-A in 29 starts, until then-GM Ed Wade called him at home in Rye, N.Y. in the middle of a pizza feast. The Phillies needed some fresh arms to get through the year and since the roster had expanded, Junge got a phone call inquiring whether he wanted to pitch in the big leagues.

Sure, Junge said, but first he had to cancel some plans.

Junge joined the Phillies on Sept. 11, 2002, exactly one year after that day. So instead of going down to Ground Zero with his trumpet to play a tribute to the three friends from childhood that died on 9/11, Junge was the Vet waiting to make his big league debut instead of “preparing to mourn and remember.”

“I would have been playing my trumpet, playing Taps. It’s something I used to do on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. I would go down to the town square and all the veterans would be there,” he told us. “It would be my little way of saying thanks for our freedoms. Taps for me is emotional. I’d rather be pitching in the big leagues, obviously.

“I didn’t think I would get called up,” he said nearly seven years ago. “It’s all kind of surreal. I was getting ready to mourn and now I feel alive.”

I remember that day for a lot of reasons. First, there weren’t too many games in the 2002 baseball season that were too memorable. Brett Myers made his debut at Wrigley Field, pitcher Robert Person his a pair of homers and got seven RBIs in about two innings of a rout over the Expos, and Scott Rolen was traded.

Secondly, only two seasons into Bowa’s reign of terror, it was clear things had already come unhinged. Little did we know at the time that the franchise would have to take some decisive actions after some growing pains and old-fashioned time biding.

Otherwise, it was an underwhelming season.

But Junge was interesting. After he threw those five innings in which he gave up four hits and one run in his only big league start, I was all set to write about how he was the first Bucknell University alum to pitch in the big leagues since Christy Mathewson. Acquired in the Omar Daal trade with Los Angeles, Junge was the minor league surprise of ’02.

Instead of writing about the surprise start, the Mathewson angle and a promising future, someone saw three names scribbled on Junge’s cap while talking to him in the clubhouse after the game. The names “Fetchet,” “Mello” and “McGinley” were hard to miss there in black Sharpie just to the left of the Phillies “P” on Junge’s cap.

What was the deal with those words, Junge was asked.

Those three guys were Brad Fetchet, Chris Mello and Mark McGinley, Junge told us. All three died on 9/11 at the World Trade Center during the attacks. Mello grew up with the pitcher and the two played baseball and football all the way from little league to high school. He died when his plane struck the north tower.

Fetchet and McGinley were Bucknell classmates of Junge who were working in the Trade Center that fateful day and didn’t make it out.

Then there was Junge’s dad Peter, who was standing on the street corner adjacent to the buildings when the first plane hit, which was carrying Mello. A maritime attorney with offices a block away from Wall St., Peter Junge was on his way to court when the unthinkable happened. Junge was eating breakfast in a waffle house in Huntsville, Ala., preparing to pitch for the Dodgers’ Double-A club, Jacksonville.

“That was a hectic day,” Junge told us after his first Major League start.

It was a helluva story and forced a lot of us to re-do those Mathewson/Bucknell angles we were knee-deep in by the time we met with Junge. But aside from the emotional side of the story, there also was the work on the field. After all, it’s not every day a pitcher in his first big league start walks off with swagger. Junge might have been a surprise call up, but he was acting as if he belonged.

“Some guys might be apprehensive but he acts like he’s been here for 20 years,” Bowa said after that game. “With his makeup, he wanted the opportunity and he opened some eyes. He was walking around the dugout yelling, ‘Let’s go!’ and getting everyone fired up.”

Junge’s big league career lasted just 10 games. In 2002 he got another win when Vicente Padilla exited a game after just 13 pitches and Junge came on in the first inning and went into the sixth.

But injuries derailed whatever future he might have had with the Phillies or a chance to return to the Majors with another club. In 2003 he was shut down after 16 games between the Phillies and Triple-A. When he came back from  shoulder surgery, he pitched at three different levels in the Phillies’ organization before he was granted free agency at the end of the year.

Then came the life of the baseball nomad. In 2005 he pitched in Triple-A for the Mets and then released. In ’06 it was Triple-A with the Padres and then another release. For 2007 it was a handful of games in the independent Atlantic League until he wound up back at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with the Yankees.

And then, of course, another release.

Junge spent 2008 in Japan pitching for the Orix Buffaloes, which was the former team of So Taguchi and Ichiro, as well as the organization that featured an Amarican cleanup hitter named Chuck Manuel. They called Chuck, “The Red Devil.”

Now 32, the same age as former teammates, Marlon Byrd, Johnny Estrada, Geoff Geary, Nick Punto as well as a year older than his ex-third baseman, Chase Utley, Junge is still out there playing. As fate would have it, the lean, 6-foot-5 righty signed to play for a team with a stadium less than one-mile from my home as the crow flies.

Yeah that’s right, Junge was pitching for the Lancaster Barnstormers in the Atlantic League. The Atlantic League is baseball purgatory… or maybe worse. No matter, in his first month with the team the baseball lifer (think Chris Coste had he been a prospect) was the league’s pitcher of the month with a 4-1 with a 1.73 ERA and twice broke the franchise record with 12 strikeouts in a game. In 26 innings, Junge had 34 whiffs.

And then he was gone.

That’s what I learned this evening when I moseyed down to the ballpark with the kids to check out a game. I had hoped to see Junge, relive those days in Philly and see what’s shaking with Antonio Alfonseca, who is closing out games for the Barnstormers. However, Junge’s name was strangely omitted from the roster. A quick Google search later revealed he had left Lancaster to pitch for a team in South Korea.

How’s that for an indictment of the team, league and town? Junge would rather travel halfway around the globe to pitch in South Korea rather than for Tom Herr and Von Hayes in Lancaster, Pa.

You know, some days I know how he feels.

Nevertheless, good luck to Mr. Junge. Undoubtedly he could trade in the uniform for a career as a good baseball exec, but let’s hope his baseball journeys pay off with a trip back to the big leagues or at least some pretty kick-ass stories. He certainly gave us one seven years ago, and, as readers of the site know, it’s the stories that make the word go ‘round.

Show time (here they come)

the_rootsPeople in my business don’t keep traditional hours. We get up late when everyone else is bustling around and knee-deep into their day, and we stay up late long past when everyone has gone off to sleep.

Baseball hours, some call it. More like Vampire hours with slightly more negative ions.

Anyway, after the games end and the writin’ is all done, it’s time to unwind. Sometimes that means a TV show or two or some serious web surfin’.

The past two nights, however, I tuned into the new Jimmy Fallon show. Fallon, of course, is replacing Conan O’Brien, who is replacing Jay Leno, who, strangely, still will have a show. Apparently Jay is funny – his act is a hit in Branson.

But Jimmy Fallon was not the reason the Jimmy Fallon Show was intriguing. OK, that’s a lie… there was a bit of curiosity there, but we won’t get into that now. Maybe later. In the meantime, our curiosity was piqued by Fallon’s house band, the legendary Roots crew from South Philly.

The Roots are a pretty good reason to check into a tee-vee show. Not only are they really good, talented, interesting, funny and all of that, they are local.

South Philly in the…!

Anyway, media types are prone to hyperbole and labels and all of that. As such, I like to use those things when they are convenient and in this case, the general media consensus is that The Roots are the best hip-hop group in the history of the genre. Hey, absolutes, labels and whathaveyou are tricky things, but in this case, we’ll roll with it.

Who doesn’t love The Roots? Especially after this humorous bit with the host of the show:

In Philly, the local media has correctly chronicled The Roots’ new gig. In fact, there was a now-dead link story on Philly.com about how gig with Fallon might have saved The Roots. I didn’t read it because the link disappeared into oblivion, but I get the premise. Times are tight and with the cutbacks and everything else, bands will have an especially more difficult time booking gigs. Luckily for The Roots, they will have a steady gig every night of the week.

Musicians (artists) just want to work. That’s all… just some steady gigs.

On another note, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, the lyricist/MC of The Roots is the most-well known alum of Millersville University out here in the hinterlands of Lancaster, Pa.

Think about that: Black Thought of the legendary Roots, the greatest hip-hop group ever (yep, using what they give me) and now featured on a network television program went to Millersville.

And how have the local press reacted out here in Lancaster?

(crickets)

Yes, they’re staying on top of all the trends in Lancaster. Good work.

Taking the points (and going to the bank)
Generally, I’m not a gambling man (other than with my life), but I made a bet on a sporting event scheduled for Thursday.

Yes, I am betting against the Globetrotters.

Actually, let’s clarify that: Our favorite writer, John Gonzalez, was kind enough to give me the Generals and 25 points. And though the ‘Trotters have lost just two games since 1962, my guess is they aren’t as good against the spread.

It’s almost too easy…

***
New Center City is coming tonight. Be ready.

Hey, it’s Barack! Yeah, that Barack

Phew!

Lots of craziness going on here… where do we start? Maybe with Google Chrome? I downloaded it yesterday hours after its launch and have been using it ever since. I was a Firefox devotee for years, but I am going to give Google’s new browser a try. So far it seems a little quicker and maybe even a little less buggy. We’ll see how it goes.

Or do we begin with Donyell Marshall, the newest addition to the 76ers. Interestingly, I actually recall the very first time I ever saw Marshall – a 14-season NBA veteran – play basketball.

It was either 1988 or 1989 and I was sitting on the home team bench our gym at McCaskey High School. Marshall, probably a freshman or sophomore in high school at the time, rolled down 222 with his teammates from Reading High. Back then Donyell was built like a Q-Tip. He was all legs, tall and skinny. Like, really skinny. Even though Reading was always a good basketball team that usually gave us fits, no one knew much about Marshall. He just looked so young and we figured he was in the game because he was taller than his other teammates.

You can’t teach height, they say.

Nevertheless, no one really paid too much attention to Donyell until a point early in the game when he caught the ball on the low block at the hoop on the far end of the gym, turned around with a man on him, jumped straight up into the air and dunked the ball with one hand.

That one got our attention. Besides, the gym got really quiet after that. “Uh-oh,” is what we thought.

Anyway, Marshall is with the Sixers now. Too bad they don’t train at Franklin & Marshall College any more…

Maybe we can start with the Phillies and the trip to Washington, which is where I am sitting as I type. Certainly left-handed starter Cole Hamels turned in another stellar outing last night to beat the Nationals to keep the Phillies two games behind the Mets in the NL East. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that Hamels will start in the big, nationally televised Sunday night game against the New York Mets and Johan Santana.

Coming off a 4-0 win over the Nationals on Tuesday night where he tossed 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball, Hamels pushed his league-leading innings total to 203. More importantly, Hamels threw 104 pitches on Tuesday and 108 in seven innings in the previous start in Chicago on Aug. 28. Hamels has thrown 100 pitches or more in 17 of his 29 starts, but has gone over 110 eight times and just twice since July 3.

Moreover, Hamels has better statistics this year when he pitches on four days rest (8-2, 2.47) as opposed to five (4-5, 4.14). Sometimes, Hamels says, he feels a little “off” with that extra day of rest.

“I understood the situation. I think this is the time that really matters,” Hamels said. “I know five days is what I just did five days ago. That’s what I’ve been able to do all year, and that’s what I’ll do this time. The main guy, when it’s the playoffs or the division championship or the big division rivalry, that’s what I want to be. It’s time to step up to the plate, and I know that I’m ready for it.”

Manuel and Dubee feel the same way.

“He’s coming off 108 pitches and 104 [Tuesday],” Dubee said. “You have to give the kid credit – he’s worked hard and kept himself in shape. He’s preserved his body and prepared well.”

Besides, with just 22 games remaining in the season after Wednesday’s game against Washington, the Phillies are putting a lot of stock into the series against the Mets. Sunday’s game, in particular, is one of those two-game swing outings. Since Kendrick turned in a 6.08 ERA during August, and was tattooed for six runs, eight hits and three walks last Monday in a loss to the Nats, the decision wasn’t too difficult.

Actually, it was just a matter of Hamels recovering well enough following Tuesday’s start to give the thumbs up.

“I talked to Kyle – he wants to pitch,” Dubee said. “I respect that. But we want Cole.”

However, it seems as if the weather could play a role in this weekend’s pitching matchups against the Mets. Saturday’s early forecast shows lots of rain in the New York Metropolitan area, which could force a wash out. If that occurs, Sunday would set up a day-night doubleheader in which both Kendrick and Hamels would pitch.

No, we’re not going to discuss the weather.

However, it should be noted that it is pretty damn hot down here. But then again (as we have written in the past) this city was built on top of a swamp.

Speaking of Washington (weren’t we?), the town is rather empty this week. Part of the reason is because the Republican convention is in St. Paul, Minn. this week. Another reason is because Congress is not in session. Still another reason is because campaign season is in full affect so everyone is out doing all of that stuff.

Nevertheless, Washington is an industry town (yes, we’ve broached this topic in the past, too) and the product is government. However, it seems different here these days. Most of the time the politicians eschew the so-called Georgetown cocktail circuit or even routine weekends hanging around with each other in The District in order to return to their home districts. As a result, the theory goes, fewer behind-the-scenes deals get brokered and the government is less efficient.

If that’s possible.

Yes, that was too easy.

Speaking of Franklin & Marshall, Washington, the campaign season and basketball enthusiasts, get this:

Barack Obama is going to be in my backyard tomorrow.

Yes, that Barack Obama.

And when I mean in my backyard, I’m not kidding. See, the Senator from Illinois will bring his presidential campaign to Lancaster’s Buchanan Park at 5 p.m. tomorrow. Chances are he will give a speech and rally his supporters into being even more supportive. Plus, such events are fun because it brings out all sorts of people – both pro- and anti-whatever the issue is. Frankly, I enjoy the spectacle.

Since it’s early September and steaming hot out there, Barack won’t be showing up at Buchanan Park to sled down the ol’ hill. However, I imagine they could open up the wading pool on the other side of the sledding hill for him.

Of course, he could hang near the dog run, too.

Whatever Barack decides to do, it will be a fun event. Guys running for president don’t make it to Buchanan Park all that often, and I should know. After all, not only have I lived in the neighborhood near the park most of my life, but back during the summer of ’88, I was the Buchanan Park playground supervisor for the Lancaster Rec Commission. Yep, that was me. I coached the softball team, planned activities, lifeguarded the pool and generally kept the riff-raff of my home neighborhood in line.

Then again, Buchanan Park is named for a president. President James Buchanan, in fact, and the guy lived two blocks away on Marietta Ave. I even suspect the land that was quartered off and developed into Buchanan Park was originally part of the President’s estate, called, “Wheatland.”

Buchanan Park, of course, is directly adjacent to F&M College, which just so happens to be where John McCain will visit next Tuesday.

Yes, that John McCain.

That’s two different presidential candidates in less than a week, if you are scoring at home. That’s also two different spectacles I hope to attend.

Regardless, those guys must really like Lancaster. Tomorrow will be Obama’s third trip to town and it will be McCain’s second in two months. If either guy wants to stop by, they are more than welcome. We’ll be in the neighborhood.

Counting down to the deadline

WASHINGTON – We’re back here in The District and man is it ever steamy. It’s just flat-out hot and humid, which kind of makes sense seeing as they built the city on top of a swamp.

Generally, swamps are warm. I try to avoid them.

But I don’t try to avoid Washington, D.C. Despite the unpleasant weather and the oppressive humidity, it’s far and away the best city in the NL East. There is just so much to do and so much going on that it isn’t hard to believe that folks stay away from Nationals’ games in droves.

Word around the campfire is that a few members of the Phillies traveling party took in the Spy Museum this afternoon.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Spy Museum… I haven’t been there yet. A few months ago, my four-year old and I hit the National Museum of Natural History, followed by lunch at Old Ebbitt’s and then a full afternoon in the National Air & Space Museum.

It was a nice touristy afternoon for this self-described native that we’re sure to repeat as soon as possible.

Anyway, here’s a fun fact about our nation’s history: Back when the Continental Congress was figuring out where to locate the permanent capital, a little down in Pennsylvania called Wright’s Ferry decided to lobby for the gig. Figuring its location along the banks of the mighty Susquehanna River that separates York and Lancaster counties was perfectly located and easy for delegates from the other colonies, Wright’s Ferry challenged for the privilege to be capital.

First things first… Wright’s Ferry had to do something about its name. It needed something catchy or something that befit a burgeoning nation. Therefore, in 1789 Wright’s Ferry changed its name to Columbia.

Perfect, huh? With a name like Columbia, how could the little town on the western edge of Lancaster County go wrong?

Location? Check.

Infrastructure? Check.

People of influence on its side like George Washington? Check.

Name? Done, done, done and done.

Nevertheless, southern states Maryland and Virginia carved out a rectangle of unwanted swamp land along the Anacostia and Potomac rivers not too far from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Next thing the folks in Columbia, Pa. knew the District of Columbia had edged it out by one vote and the rest is history.

Some influence that George Washington had, huh?

Anyway, since it had the name and the location, Columbia attempted to become the capital of Pennsylvania. Again, it had the location, the name but maybe not the influential supporters. Instead, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania went with the more centrally located Harrisburg to be the seat of its government.

Since then, Columbia became most well known for burning down the bridge connecting it to Wrightsville in York County (called the Wright’s Ferry bridge – picture above) to ward off the approaching Confederate Army in 1864. As a result of this act, the Confederates and Union armies got together in Gettysburg for one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

And perhaps once again, Columbia missed out on centuries worth of historical fame.

***
Otherwise, all is quiet here in The District as the trading deadline looms. Oh sure, the rumors are flying around like crazy with all sorts of interesting names. Suffice it to say, those names belong to left-handed relief pitchers.

But rumors are the domain of the weak-willed who cannot find the truth. If we can be called anything it must be that we are seekers of truth here at the little web site that could (be ignored).

Therefore, we will arrogantly tell you, the reader, to go elsewhere to learn about Ron Mahay, John Grabow, Brian Tallet, Jesse Carlson, Jack Taschner, Brian Fuentes, George Sherrill or anyone else.

I’m not saying anything.

But I will say that Shane Victorino had a good time joking about his chances of sticking with the Phillies past the July 31 trading deadline. As the digital clock in the clubhouse here at the soon-to-be named Exxon (Nationals) Park rolled over to 5 p.m., Victorno shouted that he had 47 hours to go until the deadline.

The clock is ticking.

Two in the books

The first inning went pretty well for Brett Myers. Just like in his last outing, he threw a lot of fastballs to start. Plus, he got some help from the Louisville Bats. Chris Dickerson, the first hitter of the game, popped up on the first pitch. Former big leaguer Rob Mackowiak worked an eight-pitch walk after Myers got ahead 0-2.

But Myers got out of the inning when he got Aaron Herr to ground into a 1-6-3 double play on the first pitch.

Needless to say, Louisville isn’t very patient.

Interestingly, Aaron Herr is from Lancaster, Pa. where he was a star baseball player for Hempfield High just like his dad, Tom Herr. Tom, of course, played for a long time with the Cardinals, Twins and Phillies before he quickly got washed up and caught on with the Mets and Giants. Tom Herr also managed the Lancaster Barnstormers in the sandlot league Atlantic League before he spent one season managing in the Nationals chain.

Aaron Herr was a first-round pick for the Braves in the 2000 draft, but still hasn’t made it to the Majors. He’s has played in the Braves, Reds, Indians and Cardinals organizations, but for one reason or another hasn’t gotten the big call.

Even more interesting than that, Lancaster resident Gordie Jones is sitting to my left.

The Lanc is definitely in the house tonight!

Anyway, Myers allowed a run in the second after the Bats scratched out three straight singles. None of them were hit particularly hard, but it is worth noting that Myers is throwing strikes – 19 of his 24 pitches in the second were strikes – and he is using the fastball exclusively.

Still, after two Myers is trailing, 1-0.

On another note, Ricky Bottalico is the TV analyst for the Pigs’ games. He’s pretty good though I suspect the FCC ought to tune in from time to time just in case. Before the game, Ricky talked to a couple of writers and then went on the tee-vee to talk to the good folks at CSN and dropped this little nugget on Myers:

“This whole situation is partially in his head,” Ricky Bo said. “He just seems a little confused. I think he was confused at the whole situation at the beginning of the season. When you don’t put your heart into something you’re really not going to do well in your job, and I don’t think he’s put his heart into the starting rotation at all.”

Looking to go back in time

Reggie BarIf it were possible to go back in time and retroactively edit my favorite childhood baseball player, I would.

But alas, time travel is meant just for Michael J. Fox.

As a kid in the 1970s and ‘80s I was a victim of geography. With no Internet or the proliferation of cable TV, I was stuck in my tiny little realm. That meant when we lived in Washington, D.C. we closely followed the Orioles and even attended a handful of games at Memorial Stadium every season.

But when we moved to Lancaster, Pa., though technically closer to the city limits of Baltimore, we followed the Phillies. Though Lancaster with Harrisburg and York comprises the 41st largest media market in the country, it falls under the umbrella of Philadelphia sports fandom. In fact, it’s not uncommon for traveling Lancastrians to tell strangers that their hometown is “near Philly” despite the fact that Philadelphians believe Lancaster to be in the middle of nowhere, or worse, the other side of the earth.

Having lived in both places, the Philadelphians aren’t wrong about Lancaster… but then again, they’re stuck in Philadelphia.

Just to mix it up a bit, the Red Sox were another team we kept up with, but that was just because they were a team that was a bit exotica. The Red Sox always had good players, always were almost good (but not quite good enough) and always seemed to have a bit of soap opera quality. And since they were on the nationally broadcasted game-of-the-week often and played in that goofy little ballpark, it was difficult to ignore them.

As a result of all of this, Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens qualified, at one point or another, as favorite players. Those players had the swings that I copied though my pitching motion was strictly a direct rip-off of Luis Tiant.

Trust me on this one – this skinny kid from The Lanc with a funky pitching motion was never afraid to stick it in a hitter’s ear. Hey, I own the inside part of the plate!

By the way: is there a reason why El Tiante is not in the Hall of Fame?

Anyway, of the group of ballplayers listed above I have had the chance to meet and spend moments in the company of all of them except for Boggs, which is why I want to change who my main guy was.

If I could do it all over again I’d go with Reggie.

REG-GIE! REG-GIE! REG-GIE!

Look, I know all about Reggie Jackson, the Cheltenham High grad and Wyncote native (like Ezra Pound and Benjamin Netanyahu) who came to prominence with the Oakland A’s, but turned into a superstar with the New York Yankees. I know how he had an ego as big as all of those home runs and strikeouts piled on top of each other. I also know that he was a bit of a diva who probably didn’t blend well with all of his teammates and/or the press.

Sometimes it seemed as if Reggie could drive everyone crazy. And I mean everyone… especially Billy Martin.

Nevertheless, Reggie got it. He knew it was a show and he had panache. People went to the park to see him homer or whiff and he rarely ever disappointed anyone. Better yet, he went deep and struck out with equal amounts of flair in which he took a huge, powerful cut that came from so deep within that it dropped him down to one knee.

But if he got a hold of one… look out! Not only did it sail far into the seats, but Reggie would stand at home plate and watch it along with everyone else before beginning his static yet stylish trot around the bases.

For some reason, though, the Reggie posturing fell out of favor. Oh no, I doubt the fans disprove, nor does it seem as if certain home run hitters like Barry Bonds or Ken Griffey are opposed to such subtle histrionics. However, when Ryan Howard gave a long home run the Reggie treatment in St. Louis last week, he took one on the right hip the next trip to the plate.

Reggie in furHey, if I were putting together an all-time greats team that spanned my lifetime Reggie probably wouldn’t make the cut (maybe we’d find him a spot as a late-inning pinch hitter), and clearly he was a flawed player. But the best part about Reggie is how he interacted with his audience and the messengers. Reggie was never shy about talking to the press and actually saying something interesting. He also liked to prod writers and challenge them the way a coach would a player. For instance, my old pal Howie Bryant was covering the Yankees for the Bergen County Record, Reggie used to give him a hard time about the location of his employer.

As Howie wrote in his book, Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball, Reggie used some Jedi-like, passive-aggressive tactics that led to him writing the book.

H.B. wrote on page 403 of the hardcover edition:

Reggie is never easy. He can employ numerous tactics designed to prove one thing: that he’s somebody and you’re not. During my first months covering the Yankees for The Record of Bergen County, New Jersey, he could be funny or condescending. A favorite Jackson ploy was to read my credential, notice I worked for a Jersey paper, and comment, “Hey, how come you don’t work for one of the New York papers?”

Reggie never had a problem with anything written about him as long as it was honest, good and not a cliché. Provocation and ideas were what interested Reggie, anything else was silly.

That’s why Reggie is my favorite and why I’m looking for that time machine.

***

Speaking of silly, it looks like former Phillies’ GM Lee Thomas finally completed a long-forgotten trade with the Dodgers.