There was no Fatal Attraction for El Duque, back then
There are a lot of baseball people here, from league officials to scouts to players and executives, and every one of them, in his heart of hearts, is glad today that he isn’t Steve Phillips.
The former Mets GM and now ESPN talking head apparently is getting Fatal Attractioned – can that be a verb? – by a 22-year-old co-worker and it’s a messy one.
The reason Phillips is in the conversation here, other than the fact that everyone with time to kill before the ball game seems to love nasty gossip, is because of something I mis-heard at the pre-game press conference with Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia.
These are mostly time-wasters at this point. They drag in the managers a couple of hours before game time and they almost always refuse to answer any questions that have to deal with looking forward. Scioscia won’t talk about anything having to do with losing and Joe Girardi wouldn’t even offer at the lamest softball question about the Phillies.
But my head snapped up after I thought I heard someone ask Scioscoa, “Do you have a relationship with Phillips?’’ What the questioner, a fellow from Philadelphia, had really asked was, “Do you have a relationship with the Phillies?’’
Big difference, no?
Scioscia did the usual dance – “I’m only thinking about the Yankees right now’’ – and things continued along those lines. It was safe to go back to sleep.
In the years these things have gone on, I can’t think of many times they were greatly worthwhile. Usually, someone needs a specific quote for a specific pre-game plugger story; for instance, Scioscia was asked how he defines “bulldog’’ and whether John Lackey is one. That kind of thing.
The best one of these I can remember came a few years ago in Yankee Stadium. The Yanks had Orlando Hernandez, the pitcher known as El Duque, who had defected from Cuba and now was pitching in the World Series. Pretty sure in was 1998 against the Padres. Before the first game, MLB brings in the second game’s pitchers, and so on, and so here came Hernandez, speaking through a translator, for those writing the advance stories.
Someone asked him how he would prepare for the assignment of pitching in a World Series and it went to the translator, went around the language mixmaster a couple of times and came back, essentially, as, “I will smoke two cigars and spend the day in bed with my woman.’’
Now that, friends, is a quote and Major League Baseball officials went scurrying to sanitize it before it got printed on the quote sheets.
He went out and pitched a hell of a game the next day and beat the Padres, too.