Bob Sheppard, the longtime public address announcer for the Yankees, is stepping away from the microphone for good.
I hope he enjoys whatever he decides to do, and while I'd guess that it would involve reading -- the man has devoured books in his lifetime the way Kobayashi eats hot dogs -- he could always find time for another of his talents, the 50-yard sprint.
On most game days in the four years I covered the Yankees, from 1998 to 2001, I would wind up at the back of the press box with Bob and Eddie Layton, the team's former organist, whenever a game was one out from its end. I usually filed the first draft of a game story with the editors at The New York Times by the top of the ninth inning, and because I wanted to make sure I was on the first elevator down to the basement level, I'd move from the front row of the press box to the back, closer to the door. Bob and Eddie always wanted to be on that elevator, too, because they wanted to beat the crowd out of Yankee Stadium.
So we would wait for the final pitch. If somebody reached base with two outs in the ninth, Bob took the 10 steps or so back to his P.A. booth to announce the next hitter and then rejoined us at the back of the press box.
When the final out was actually registered, it was as though a starting gun went off for the three of us: We would race toward the elevator, at varying speeds. But Bob was more efficient than Eddie and I, actually. He would make his move at the crack of the bat that lifted a fly to the outfield, for example, and would assume that somebody would catch the ball. If the ball fell, I guess he figured the crowd's reaction would tell him so, and he would just backtrack.
Anyway, time after time, Bob would be eight or 10 steps ahead of me as we took off for the elevator, moving with (and I'm absolutely not exaggerating here) remarkable speed for someone who was about 90 years old at the time. He would hold a book in the crook of his arm, like a football. The elevator operater waited for him, closing the doors as soon as he and Eddie (and, as it turned out, a dopey sports writer) stepped on.
He and Eddie would get off at the street level and be on the road within 60 seconds.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. Heard this: Roy Halladay's preferred destinations are the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies or Angels.
2. As Alex Anthopoulos decides what to do with Halladay, his buzzword is "sustainability," Jeremy Sandler writes.
3. The Pirates will look at some veterans among the free agents, but the chances of Pittsburgh's actually signing them are not good, writes Dejan Kovacevic.
4. The sale of the Rangers is a difficult and complex transaction, a spokeswoman tells Barry Shlachter.
5. The respected John Perotto twittered that the Marlins are willing to trade Josh Johnson. I made contact with a couple of executives of rival teams Thursday night, and both indicated that the Marlins had not yet told them this.
6. The Red Sox will probably have a new shortstop in 2010, writes Daniel Barbarisi. The 19-year-old Jose Iglesias is Boston's shortstop of the future, so either Marco Scutaro or Miguel Tejada would be a good short-term fit to help fill in the gap for a couple of years. Tejada is more of a free swinger and could hit sixth or seventh in the Boston lineup, and he could be used at third base sometimes, but the advantage of signing Scutaro is that he is more versatile and could play second and third, as well as shortstop, depending on Boston's needs of the moment.
7. The Tigers have to decide by Monday whether to offer arbitration to Fernando Rodney, Brandon Lyon and Placido Polanco. If I were in their shoes and angling for the draft picks, I'd offer arbitration to Lyon and Rodney, but not Polanco. Rodney and Lyon are almost certainly going to get multiyear deals from other teams, and if the Tigers got stuck with Rodney on a one-year arbitration deal, well, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
8. Luis Rivera will manage Toronto's Triple-A team, writes Paul Hoynes.
9. It's official: The Ricketts family has assumed control of the Cubs.
10. A judge demonstrated her displeasure in the John Moores divorce case.
11. The Mariners have some payroll flexibility as they prepare for the winter meetings, writes Geoff Baker.
Dings and dents
This update on Jamie Moyer came Friday night, courtesy of Greg Casterioto, director of baseball communications for the Phillies:
... Moyer had an MRI this week which showed a small blood collection that could have been infected. Moyer had minor surgery today to wash out the blood collection. Dr. Bill Meyers performed the surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
"Jamie is doing very well," said Phillies Team Physician Dr. Michael Ciccotti. "The surgery is not likely to impact his rehab schedule and is likely to have minimal impact on his spring training schedule."
Moyer is likely to remain hospitalized until Monday.
• The Cubs are not going to rush Starlin Castro, writes Paul Sullivan. What'll be interesting is Lou Piniella's view of Castro in spring training, because Piniella has a long history of pushing very young players -- and while this has sometimes worked out (Alex Rodriguez), sometimes it hasn't (B.J. Upton).
• There was a buzz at the Yankees' team store on Black Friday, but not so much at the Mets' team store, writes Ken Belson. Santa Claus is thinking about giving our 5-year-old an Adrian Peterson No. 28 Vikings jersey.
• The Hall of Fame ballots are in the mail, apparently. I am curious to see whether there will be any change this year in the percentage of votes for Mark McGwire, who is, of course, returning to the majors as hitting coach of the Cardinals.
• The fact that former Padres GM Kevin Towers will meet with the Mariners at the winter meetings does not surprise Larry Stone.
• A POW search led to an official with the Padres' front office, writes Bill Center.
• Pat Hentgen would vote for Roberto Alomar. I will vote for Alomar, who might've had the most influence on the way defense is played at his position since Johnny Bench had such an impact on catching in the early '70s.