SOUTH PLAINFIELD – What follows may come across as heresy to certain Yankees fans – or something unspeakable to those of another stripe – but what cannot be forgotten – or denied – is the fact that the man who this afternoon graciously shared his opinions with PolitickerNJ literally wrote the book on this subject: “How the Yankees Explain New York.”
Chris Donnelly of Ewing Twp., spokesman for Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), stood in the yawning interior of a steelyard warehouse here with Derek Jeter playing in his last handful of games, and gave his all-time Yankees lineup.
Here it is…
Playing first base, Donnelly picks Lou Geh… no, he’ll have to make Gehrig the DH.
Donny Ballgame in part got him into the game, so Donnelly can’t part with him.
He’s putting Mattingly on first.
He’s got to go with Willie Randolph.
PolitickerNJ makes a case for Rizzuto at shortstop, but Donnelly is stoic in resistance.
“I’ll put Scooter in the broadcast booth,” he says, and goes with Jeter.
At third base – Greg Nettles. It’s an unflinching pick.
Then there’s the outfield.
He names Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle right away.
The third selection is tougher.
Paul O’Neill wrote the forward to “How the Yankees Explain New York.”
Donnelly treads gingerly – but ultimately picks Dave Winfield.
Then there’s catching.
He lingers on Yogi, for a flicker of a second considers Thurman, then goes with Bill Dickey.
He wants Andy Pettitte (lacking in a couple of areas but clutch, he argues) on the mound with Mariano Rivera to close.
And with the wad of chaw in the dugout, Donnelly goes with Billy Martin.
Billy’s drinking and off-field shenanigans obscure something else about him.
“He was a managerial genius,” says Donnelly. “A strong case can be made that he should be in the Hall of Fame.”
Sizing up Jeter in the twilight of the great Yankee’s run, Donnelly says he’s right below DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle in terms of all-around greatness and calls him “the greatest shortstop ever” – that includes players in any uniform.
For power, Ruth is indisputably the greatest, the author says, but if he couldn’t take Ruth and needed someone in the four spot, he’d go with Mantle.
Best all around team was the 1998 squad, he maintains.
“Depth,” Donnelly argues.
PolitickerNJ tries to set up a Roy White anecdote by asking Donnelly which Yankee had the most distinctive batting stance.
Donnelly refuses to take the bait.
“Jim Leyritz,’ he says.
How does the author intend to see out the end of Jeter’s career, PolitickerNJ wants to know.
“I’ll be there tomorrow,” Donnelly says, “at the game.”
How the Yankees Explain New York is published by Triumph Books