Sunday, January 23, 2011

NY writers celebrate baseball, charity

I didn't really know what to expect last night when I attended the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s annual dinner. But I had a nice time chatting up other avid baseball fans willing to shell out $225 bucks to get a glimpse of their sports heroes.

It was an interesting night, with sportswriters coming together to honor many of the athletes and baseball officials they've spent their lives covering. Of course, they poked a lot of fun at the honorees. Mark Feinsand, chair of the New York chapter and host of the evening, had a great deal of fun at Brian Cashman’s expense, joking about the general manager’s desperate search for another starting pitcher. Fans of the New York Yankees will be happy to know that Cashman signed righty John Denny (who retired in 1986) to a four-year, $60 million deal, according to Feinsand.

The Yankees were well represented during the festivities, with Robinson Cano honored for his tremendous year and thrilled to receive his first Gold Glove. Cano was introduced by Bernie Williams, who told the story about Cano coming up to Williams in the Yankees clubhouse when he was first called up and informing the Yankees then-centerfielder that he was his favorite player growing up, instantly making Bernie feel like an old man.

Phil Hughes was supposed to be honored with the Good Guy award for his interactions with the baseball writers. But the young righty had an apparent conflict and had to answer to a higher authority than the Steinbrenners or his manager Joe Girardi: his mom Dori Hughes.

Hal Steinbrenner gave a very nice speech in accepting an award for his father George Steinbrenner's community service. In referring to his father’s quiet acts of kindness, unacknowledged until after his death last year, Hal Steinbrenner offered wonderful words of wisdom that we should all live by: that an act of charity is not charity if more than two people know about it.

Joe Torre gave what I thought was the most conciliatory speech I've ever heard. Torre was being honored with two other retiring managers Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella for their Hall of Fame careers. He expressed his great joy to be back in New York and thanked New York fans for their support through the years. In front of Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner, he also expressed his gratitude to the Boss for giving him a chance to manage his ballclub. Torre and the Yankees endured a nasty divorce that left Torre with bitter feelings towards his old employers and led to his writing a book that created a rift between him and the Yankees hierarchy. But between the invitation extended to Torre to attend last year's memorial to the Boss at Yankee Stadium and last night's expressions of gratitude by Torre, it seems like all is forgiven.

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