Drove over to the Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle tonight to see Bernie Williams, who was helping raise money for Hillside Food Outreach.
The Journal News planned to cover the event anyway. But after hearing what Brian Cashman said about Williams on Friday night, I wanted to give Williams a chance to respond.
Speaking at William Paterson University in New Jersey at an event with Theo Epstein, Cashman said Williams spent too much time with his music career â€œand that took away from his playâ€ on the field.
Cashman said Williams had a â€œterrible seasonâ€ in 2005 and that former manager Joe Torre was wrong to play Williams as often as he did in 2006 because better players were available.
Only two writers were there tonight. Told of Cashmanâ€™s comments, Williams first said he didnâ€™t want to resond. But then he paused and took a deep breath.
â€œI donâ€™t think he has any basis to say anything like that,â€ he said. â€œLet me put it this way: Questioning a personâ€™s commitment to the team is a very serious accusation, at least in my book.â€
I asked whether music was a distraction during the final seasons of his career. â€œEverybodyâ€™s entitled to their opinion,â€ he said. â€œI havenâ€™t really talked to (Cashman) about what he said. But I want to.â€
Williams did not attend any Yankee games last season despite several invitations from Joe Torre. He has yet to officially retire, putting the Yankees in an awkward spot in terms of offering him some sort of role.
The Yankees were probably right not to offer Williams a guaranteed contract for the 2007 season. And Williams probably had every reason to feel insulted. It’s a shame it has come to this. Hopefully the two sides can put aside their differences and Williams can be honored at Yankee Stadium before it closes.