This week is the “winter meetings”, currently taking place at a Walt Disney World resort. Last month’s winter meetings were merely a pre-cursor to those happening this week. This week, we can expect quite a few announcements on trades, contracts, signings, and more.
But the meetings kicked off with a big announcement about the Class of 2014 to Cooperstown. The Veterans’ Ballot came back with a special presentation about its newly elected members of the Hall of Fame. Featured this year are managers Bobby Cox (the Braves), Tony La Russa (the Cardinals), and the Yankees’ own Joe Torre. All three have World Series rings as managers, all three have ridiculously amazing team records under their leadership (well over .500 for their win-loss ratio), all three have moved on to other occupations (Torre now works for MLB commissioner’s office as Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations), and all three were unanimously elected into the legendary Hall of Fame.
Prominent Yankee players and personnel came out in support of Torre. Mariano Rivera said, “What made him special was that he was always there to support his players, to offer encouragement… Joe let us enjoy the game. When you have a manager like that, you play with love and good things happen. As a player, that’s all you can ever ask for.”
Of the 12 names on the list for the Veterans’ Ballot, only those three made the cut. The rest failed to meet the required 12 votes to be elected. While it would have been nice to have Billy Martin or George Steinbrenner, I understand why the current committee didn’t elect them with the controversy that followed the two of them in the late 70’s “Bronx is Burning” era.
What most people don’t understand is why Marvin Miller failed to be elected. Miller is considered by many people to be one of the main people who revolutionized the players’ union, helping to create free agency and bring better work conditions for the players. My thoughts on why certain selections were made (or not made, as the case may be) may lie in who composes the Veterans’ Committee, people who may recognize statistics and achievements in the most traditional sense, but may not understand the full extent to which men like Miller made a difference for current players.
In other regions of the Yankee Universe, the Yankees signed center fielder Carlos Beltran to a 3-year, $45 million deal. Beltran most recently played with the Cardinals, though he also spent part of his 16 year career with the Royals and Mets. The signing will be official when Beltran passes his physical. This will certainly change the looks of the outfield next season, with several other “experienced” players already on their roster in the outfield.
And the Jacoby Ellsbury signing will be made official on Friday at the special press conference. Ellsbury wore #46 and #2 for his years with the Red Sox. Seeing as Jeter won’t be giving up his number and fans would be horribly distressed if he wore Pettitte’s old number, it will be interesting to see which of the remaining numbers will be on Ellsbury’s pinstripes. My guess, like McCann’s, it will be a number that means something personal to him, like a favorite player or in honor of some number he wore in high school.
Yankee legends were in New York tonight for a Core Four meet-and-greet with some lucky fans tonight. All four made the trek to the City on this cold December night. Pettitte, Posada, Jeter, and Rivera were all on-hand for autographs, photos, Q-&-A session, and a memorabilia auction, all co-sponsored by Steiner Sports and Delta. It’s a great way to continue the fan base in the off-season and gear up for whatever’s to come in 2014.