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September 16, 2005

Stick In The Mud

Thanks to James Varghese for pointing out this item from the Daily News:

In what can only be viewed as more self-defeating organizational genocide on the part of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, the Tampa inmates - in this case VP of scouting Damon Oppenheimer and VP of major league scouting Bill Emslie - finally have succeeded in taking over the asylum. The Daily News has learned that Steinbrenner has turned over all the postseason scouting to Emslie and Oppenheimer while Michael, despite being acknowledged throughout baseball as one of the most astute talent evaluators in the game, is sitting on the sidelines, presumably attending to his real-estate interests in Tampa.

Michael did not return calls yesterday, but it was learned that his two top aides, longtime advance scouts Wade Taylor and Chuck Cottier, have also been demoted and probably will leave the organization at season's end.

First, I'm shocked to see this from Bill Madden. I always thought that he was one of Stein's puppets in the media. Therefore, to see this dirty laundry coming from him is very interesting.

And, I did get a chuckle from the line that said Stick would "presumably attending to his real-estate interests in Tampa." The last time that I saw that line used was when Dick Howser was let go to attend real estate opportunities in Tallahassee. Howser, post-Yankees, then brought the Royals a World Series ring.

But according to sources inside the organization, that all changed after the Red Sox rallied from a 3-0 deficit in last year's ALCS to beat the Yankees en route to winning the World Series.

Steinbrenner was lusting for scapegoats, and Emslie and Oppenheimer, who have worked their way into his confidence as two of the principal operatives in his Tampa "kitchen cabinet," apparently were all too willing to provide him one. At an organization meeting in Tampa after the World Series last winter, Steinbrenner reportedly grumped: "The Red Sox scouts did a better job of adjusting than we did."

Big Stein does have a point there, in my opinion. It did appear that the Yankees failed to make adjustments starting in Game 4.

Emslie, on the other hand, had no background as a scout until Steinbrenner made him one after a highly contentious and disastrous three-year stint as Yankees' traveling secretary (1988-90), during which he succeeded in alienating the entire Yankee team and media corps and numerous bus drivers. Before that, Emslie, a Tampa native, had been a minor league umpire.

Wow, so, Bill Emslie is George Costanza.

Then this spring, Cashman hired former Red Sox and Phillies pitching coach Joe Kerrigan as a special adviser - in spite of Kerrigan's notorious reputation for having been a backstabber of manager Jimy Williams in Boston and public enemy No. 1 to the pitchers in Philadelphia. Under Cashman, Kerrigan reportedly has been preparing his own pitcher-hitter scouting reports separate from those of Taylor and Cottier.

"I think what happened over there was that Stick just got too much of the credit for their success," one former Yankee executive said yesterday. "I know that was the case with George, who only signed him to that contract to keep him from going to the Mets or the Red Sox. From what I'm told, the people down in Tampa were really jealous of him and couldn't stand it when he'd call them on things in front of George. So they effectively dis-invited him from all the meetings."

I remember hearing this once - that the way to survive in Stein World was to be ready to take the blame when something went wrong and to always allow him to have the credit when things went right. This theory on Stick just might be the case.

And, I hope that Kerrigan is doing reports and that the Yankees will be using them. I'd take my chances with his recommendations.

It's a shame that it's come to this as Stick Michael has a lot to offer a team. But, it is what it is - and there's nothing anyone can do to change it. Therefore, as Yankees fans, we can only hope that this works out for the best - despite the fact that it looks like a terrible move now.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at September 16, 2005 09:30 AM


Games 4, 5, & 6 were there for the taking. Problem is, Boston took them

Posted by: Raf at September 16, 2005 12:23 PM

Madden's column is balderdash based on innuendo and guesswork. It probably bears no resemblance to the actual truth (Brian Cashman has already stated for the record that Gene Michael was the prime motivator for signing Tony Womack...he didn't say it with rancor just factually). Also, let us not forget that Bill Madden voted for Jim Rice over Ron Guidry for MVP in 1978 because he didn't think a pitcher should win the award over an everyday player and that being on a first-place team was immaterial. Then, in 1986, he voted for Roger Clemens over Don Mattingly for MVP for exactly the opposite reasons, completely contradicting his 1978 vote. I remember Bill Mazer's blank stare when Madden tried to explain this. Hey, remember Mazer?

Posted by: JohnnyC at September 16, 2005 12:33 PM

BTW, anyone else notice that Whitey Ford, who's known Gene for 40 years, always calls him Gene Michaels with an s? Wonder if Gene reciprocates and calls him Whitey Fords.

Posted by: JohnnyC at September 16, 2005 12:40 PM

As a kid, I stumped Mazer with a Munson question, on the Channel 5 news, and got a "I stumped Mazer" (or something like that) bumper sticker.

As far as Whitey, I think it's just that generation. My wife's grandmother used to call K-mart "K-marts."

Whitey and Stick never played together - if they did, I'd bet that he'd know the right way to say it.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at September 16, 2005 12:54 PM