|Scott (Danny Tartabull and Spike Owen) distracted me.|
There was a conflict of sorts from the beginning, with my brother Scott, who was playing for the Mariners when I went to work for Sports Illustrated in 1989.
Now, understand, I was really nothing more than Peter Gammons' personal fact-checker during my years at SI, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't always have one eye on Scott and the M's. There was no internet back then, but there was the AP wire, which I could access from the immense computer in my tiny office on 50th and 6th.
I can confess now (sorry Jane "Bambi" Wulf, SI Chief of Reporters), that I took a few too many breaks to check out what was going on with the Mariners.
There was also an incredible library in the SI office, with newspapers from all over the country, including Seattle. If ever anyone wanted to sneak a peak at the Seattle Times or the Post-Intelligencer they knew where those papers could be found. I could check-in to see what the beat writers had to say about Dave Valle getting most of the playing time over my brother.
See what I mean about conflicted?
When I went to the Daily News in 1992 to cover the Yankees, Scott was still with Seattle and a lot of people asked me, "How are you going to handle covering your brother?" My response was (BS) that I'd just cover him like any other player. That I'd stick to the facts and remain unbiased (BS).
I never got to cover one of Scott's games. About a week into my first year on the Yankee beat, my brother was released, which made me even more conflicted. I went to Buck Showalter, the manager of the Yankees and a former minor league teammate of Scott's, and Gene Michael, the general manager who always said nice things about my brother and, basically, begged them to sign Scott.
Yeah, not the most professional behavior there.
He ended up playing briefly with the Reds in 1992, getting a handful of at bats off the bench for Lou Piniella, before getting shipped back to the minors, never to play another game in the bigs.
I do have this one memory of Scott's time with the Reds while I was on the Yankee beat. Again, this is way before the internet, and some of the ballparks would run an out-of-town scroll on their message boards during games. I glanced up from my word processor (yeah, Radio Shack) and saw something like: BRADLEY, PH RBI SINGLE... Scott's last Major League hit. Off Orel Hershiser.
The next spring, Scott was in camp with the Mets, under Jeff Torborg, and looked for a couple of weeks like he had a chance to make the club. But as it got closer to Opening Day, his ABs dwindled and we all knew release day was coming.
Not that it would have been a big story for the Mets writers if my brother ripped GM Joe McIlvaine (it would have sounded stupid), but I called him and told him, if asked by the writers how he feels about getting cut, the best thing he can do is be grateful for the career he's had.
"You can be one of those guys who's pissed off that the last couple of teams didn't like you, and that it may have cost you 3-5 more years in the bigs," I said. "Or you can remember Dick Williams, the one manager who believed in you, and thank him for helping you become a big leaguer."
Scripting a player's quotes is not exactly part of a writer's job. But I do remember getting a call from Port St. Lucie from some of the Mets writers, telling me what a class act my brother was...
I'm sure he'd have handled it the same way, even without my advice.