~ David Cone ~
David Cone has always been my favorite baseball player. In fact, I think that's rather easy to tell, since after all, my AIM screen name is Coney2098 (Coney winning 20 games in '98... for the last time, it has NOTHING to do with Coney Island... or rabbits for that matter, okay?!?!) and my NYYFANS name is Coney36. In his years with the Yankees, he had been the quintessential leader of the team. I knew he had a difficult season in 2000, (okay, okay, so a season where he goes 4-14 with a 6.91 ERA is beyond a difficult season; it's a horrible season) and I knew the odds were against him being re-signed by the Yankees. Still, nothing stunned me more than when Coney decided to sign with that team up north, those Boston Red Sox.
Okay, so it was obvious that there was no way that Yankee management was going to offer him another $12 million dollar contract after his horrible season, and maybe it was foolish of me to think that he would accept an offer 1/12 of that. (Considering that I'm not a millionaire, $1 million always sounds like a very good deal.) I was hoping that he would go to a team like his original team, the Kansas City Royals, but that didn't work out obviously. I know there are people out there, especially many Yankees fans, who will never forgive him for what they called "stealing 12 mil from the Boss." But in reality, he got that money because he proved in the past what he was capable of doing. How would anyone have guessed that he would tank in 2000? I don't think he actually wanted to get hammered every time he was out on the mound. If anyone said that he stole the money, then apparently there were a lot of thieves out there in MLB - and still are.
I didn't know how I could root for him when he pitched for the Red Sox, especially against the Yankees, but I guessed it got easier as the season went along, especially after the Red Sox suffered their annual collapse and never had a chance to reach the playoffs. (Those were the good 'ol days.) Perhaps the toughest game for me though was the one where Mike Mussina was so close to a perfect game. (Stupid Carl Everett!) Moose pitched awesome, but so did Coney, and they were still 0-0 in the 9th. As much as I wanted Moose to get the perfect game, because I actually had never seen a perfect game (I was out of the country at the time Coney had his on 7.18.99), I wanted Coney to win too.
In the 2002 season, out of a job on the field, Coney served as a part time broadcaster for his former boss, THE Boss, at YES. Strangely enough, Coney returned to the Mets for a second round of duty, signing a minor league deal with the other New York team and actually made the roster as the Mets' #5 pitcher, albeit for a very brief tenure. Due to lingering injuries, Coney decided to hang up his cleats for good on May 30th, 2003 with a final record of 194-126, five World Series rings (one with Toronto, four with the Yankees), and a perfect game. Though he had traveled around Major League Baseball and played for five different teams in both leagues, David Cone is, in my heart and mind, always a Yankee.