Feinstein on Milledge
Since I haven't yet tried to sell any copies of John Feinstein's new book "Living on the Black," here goes....
With Feinstein spending lots of time around the Mets last year, the topic of young Lastings came up repeatedly, especially toward the end of the book. Key passages, quoted verbatim from the book:
* Know Your Place: At twenty-two he had speed and power and could be spectacular at the plate and in the outfield. But he had proven himself remarkably immature a year earlier when called up, showboating constantly, and clearly having no idea what Glavine or Mussina meant when they said that being in the big leagues did not make you a bit leaguer.
When he bridled at the tradition of rookies being forced to wear costumes for a late-season road trip -- every team does it -- Billy Wagner hung a large sign in his locker that said, 'Know Your Place, Rook.' The veterans on the team were less than amused with Milledge's notion that being part of rookie hazing was beneath him. "Actually, we were pretty mild with the rookies that year," Glavine said.
Home-Run Dances: Lastings Milledge greeted [Jose] Reyes coming into the dugout, where the two did their home-run dance, which always annoyed the opposition and baffled many of their older teammates, especially in a game when the team was down by three runs.
"It wasn't my place to talk to those guys; there were other guys who were more appropriate," Glavine said later. "I know Carlos [Delgado] tried to talk to them, and Willie [Randolph] did too. It just never seemed to register."
The Final Florida Series: It began in the third inning when Lastings Milledge hit a home run. Milledge had played pretty well since his call-up...but he and Jose Reyes were still in the habit of doing their dance outside the dugout whenever one of them got a big hit or hit a home run.
"To be honest, if they did that sort of thing when I first came up, they would go down at least once a game, every game," Glavine said. "It's one of the ways baseball has changed that isn't good....
"If you want to know why hitters pose after home runs, it's because baseball lets them. Once upon a time, you did that to a Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, you better be diving for the dirt the second you stepped back in the box."...
[Reyes and Milledge had] been spoken to by older players and by Randolph, and their response was, essentially, we're just being ourselves. "That's fine," Glavine said. "You don't want to stop people from having fun or being enthusiastic about playing the game. But maybe they could have done it inside the dugout."
So yeah, the fun-loving Glavine and his muse seem generally down on the notion of on-field happiness, and Milledge was actually asked about some of this at his E-Zone Q&A yesterday. For example, he was asked why Manny Ramirez is a lovable goof when he slaps hands with fans in the middle of a play, but Milledge is a showboater when he does so on his way to the outfield.
"I'm not making $20 million, I guess," Milledge said. "When you make $20 million you can pretty much do what you want to do, I guess. I think a lot of people [were], I don't know if upset, but surprised that a guy who's a rookie would do something like that. I really think I caught a lot of people by surprise."
"Well, we like it here," a fan said.
"And you guys will get it if I get a walk-off home run, you will get it," Milledge said.
I asked him how he celebrated doubles in New York last year; "Just fist pumps, that's about it," he said. "Couldn't really do too much in New York; everybody would have something to say, so I couldn't do too much."
And I asked a question I still don't really understand: Why baseball, more than any other team sport, frowns on fun; why Alex Ovechkin can jump into the boards and LeBron James can fling his chalk and Natasha Kai can do the Cha-Cha and the Redskins DB's can Walk it Out but some young outfielder can't do a dance after hitting a home run.
"Egos, man, egos," Milledge said.
Ok, now go buy John Feinstein's new book "Living on the Black."
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