Every Yankee fan has favorite players to which they paid attention during different eras in Yankees history. For some, it was a great hitter or a great pitcher, or even a great fielder. I will always be a fan of Graig Nettles, thinking of his diving stops during the 77 and 78 World Series. When I think of 2004 through 2006, one of the guys I think of is Tanyon Sturtze. I always thought he was a tough, gutsy pitcher. Maybe it was an incident involving a beaning and Jason Varitek being thrown to the ground like a rag doll. But I digress. Bleeding Yankee Blue had a chance to talk with him recently. We proudly present our exclusive interview with Tanyon Sturtze.
BYB: First, congratulations on the birth of your son Maverick. By my math, he is just over 3 weeks old. How is he doing, and how is the family adjusting?
Tanyon Sturtze: Pretty good, man. I can't believe you knew that! Everything is good, No sleep right now, of course. He's great, he's healthy, it's all we could ask for. The family is doing good, and hopefully he starts to sleep pretty soon in the next few weeks (laughs).
BYB: You played for 7 teams: the Cubs, Rangers, White Sox, Devil Rays, Blue Jays, Dodgers, and the Yankees. Yet your Twitter profile picture has you in a Yankees jersey and your handle - @sturtze56 - pays homage to your uniform number with the Yankees. Tell us what the Yankees mean to you.
Tanyon Sturtze: Everything. That was the best time I had playing the game, obviously on the best team. It was a great group of guys I played with. I played with a lot of great guys over the years with some teams. I got to be pretty close friends with a lot of guys on the Yankees. You spend a few years there, and I think the playoffs brings everybody a little tighter. I never had that opportunity with the other teams. New York is the best. There is nothing better than there. There is nothing better than playing for the Yankees. I wouldn't know what it's like playing for the Mets, being in New York, but I know that the Yankees rule the city. We rule until someone takes it from us. It was the best time of life. I love going back there. I love doing everything for the Yankees. I do some fantasy camps for them in the winter. I do some autograph signings up in the suites. I just love going back.
BYB: We all remember the brawl between ARod and Jason Varitek and you were right in the middle of it. OK spill the beans, who did you tag in that brawl and give us the play by play from your perspective on the brawl.
Tanyon Sturtze: Well, I started that game, so I was actually sitting on the bench. They had hit Alex Rodriguez a couple of times the night before, so once they hit him again that day, we all knew he was mad from the night before. Things kind of spilled over. As I got out there, Alex was actually on the bottom getting worked over pretty good. I just grabbed the closest guy, it just happened to be Gabe Kapler. So I grabbed him and tried to get him off the pile, then it escalated to a little more than that.
It was not a problem for me because I didn't really like anybody on that team anyway at the time. Tensions were different back then. The game was different between the Yankees and the Red Sox. It was still really hot and heavy. They still hadn't beaten us until after that year. Things kind of changed and mellowed out a little bit in my opinion, with that series.
BYB: Obviously the rivalry was pretty intense in the 70's, 80's, 90's and when you were in New York. Do you think that's a good thing or a bad thing, that the rivalry has mellowed out now?
Tanyon Sturtze: I think it's a bad thing because it's always great to have hated rivals in a sport. I played in LA, and they all talked about LA/San Francisco. They didn't hold a candle to Boston/New York. 2004 was pretty heated. I mean, people were at the old Stadium at noon for a 7 o'clock game, chanting "We Hate Boston" as you walk into the clubhouse. It was pretty special. I have gone back to a couple of games now, I really don't feel like it's the same. Obviously everyone still knows it's a rivalry. But I just don't think it was as heated once they won the World Series a couple of times. I think it's calmed down a little bit.
BYB: You grew up in Worcester, Mass - near the heart of Red Sox Nation. Were you a Red Sox fan growing up? Tell us what it was like growing up there.
Tanyon Sturtze: I was a Red Sox fan growing up. My dad used to take me to Opening Day every year. I would miss school on Opening Day. Look, any kid that grows up in New York is either a Yankees fan or a Mets fan. Listen, when you're an eight, nine-year-old kid, I mean, you guys all grew up in New York, and you're the same way. You love one team and that's just the way it is. That's where you're from and that's what you know. I always knew to go to Fenway. That's just the way it was. In high school, we'd skip school, drive down, and go to Fenway. That's just the way it is. You guys used to go to the old Yankee Stadium. That's the way we were as Boston kids and Fenway.
But once you get drafted, everything changes. You don't really have an alliance to any team anymore. You don't have any idea or control over who you're going to play for, or who you're going to get drafted by. But once I got to the Yankees, everything changed. I lost a couple of family members. They don't speak to me anymore because they are die-hard Red Sox fans. But once the fight happened, I threw out a bunch of stuff. I really despise the Red Sox. I would never become a fan of them ever again.
BYB: Speaking of fights, what did you think of Jonathan Papelbon hitting Manny Machado and attacking Bryce Harper? Do you think his punishment should have been more severe?
Tanyon Sturtze: He's done for the rest of the year, right? I mean, I don't think there should be a deeper penalty. Listen, people fight on the same team. That happens. I know he was only there a month when he traded over there.
Tensions always rise in the game. It's always better to do it in the clubhouse so that this doesn't happen, and that you guys don't see it, and it's not filmed. The whole world has a comment about it. It's a lot easier to go into the tunnel or the clubhouse where nobody can see, and just handle it. Listen, like I said, tensions rise throughout the course of the year between players. Stuff happens. That's just the nature of the game. If I'm in the locker room with you, listen, that's your family. You don't really have a life outside of it during the season. You're there at noon. You leave at midnight. Every day. You see your family and kids less time than you see those guys at the ballpark.
BYB: Who are the one or two players, Yankees or non-Yankees, that you admired the most growing up and why?
Tanyon Sturtze: Well, I always loved Ron Guidry. Then when I got to New York, he was my pitching coach, for a year, it was the best to sit down with him. I always tried to sit with him as much as possible, listen to him talk about pitching and talk about stories. To this day, every time I see him, he's the first person I go next to. I think he's one of the greatest guys in the game. Obviously an unbelievable pitcher. I just have a great time with him and so much respect and admiration for that guy. I don't think anybody else compares except probably Derek Jeter, the way he handles himself. Guidry is such a superstar. His being such a nice guy, the way he kept on top of his game all the time is really impressive to me. He really is a Yankee legend and he's just a down-to-earth guy. Very approachable. Just a nice country boy. That's really what he is. He lives in the backwoods of Louisiana and he's a great, great guy. He's always trying to help people. I just really enjoy being around him.
BYB: If you had your pick, which job would you want in baseball and why?
Tanyon Sturtze: If I had my pick right now, being out of the game, I mean, I retired in 2008, I'd probably go be bullpen coach with a team. Just because I know what it's like to be down there.
I learned from the best, which is Mariano Rivera. I think I could bring a lot to who ever is in that bullpen. To help out on preparing, on going into a game. But I'd love to be a bullpen coach for a few years before I would try to be a pitching coach. Definitely. I would never want to be a manager. No thank you. Too much pressure. Managers have a lot to do every day. I would like to be a pitching coach, but I would like to be in a role before that, before I took over as pitching coach. I love the art of pitching. I love being able to teach kids what was taught to me throughout the years. I got to be around a lot of great pitchers and pick a lot of brains.
I lockered next to Mike Mussina for 3 years, and to listen to him talk about pitching was just ridiculous. I love that aspect of it. To be a manager or something like that, listen I know nothing about hitters. I just know ways to get them out. I wouldn't do anything outside of my comfort zone.
BYB: Do you ever read Bleeding Yankee Blue and if so, what do you think?
Tanyon Sturtze: I read it. With the baby just being born, I don't hit Twitter as much as possible. I always check out the feeds. I always see what you guys write. I think you guys do a great job. I enjoy being able to read it because if I miss something, I know I can catch up reading your stuff. I think it's a great thing you guys do. There's no better fan base than the Yankees. To be able to provide that for those guys is great. Thanks for keeping my name associated with the Yankees and I appreciate everything you guys do.
We want to thank Tanyon for taking the time to speak with us. You're a classic baseball guy and a great guy to talk to. We wish you and your family all the best. You're now part of the BYB family... thanks!
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row
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