Cashman pokes fun at staffer's gestures

FILE - Brian Cashman as a guest bartender

FILE - Brian Cashman as a guest bartender at Foley's NY Pub and Restaurant in Manhattan. (Jan. 26, 2011) (Credit: Errol Anderson)

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman scoffed at the implication of impropriety by a team staffer, dismissing the uproar created by a Twitter photo from Keith Olbermann as "silly."

"I don't really care," Cashman told Newsday in the hallway outside the Yankees' clubhouse before Saturday's game against the Tigers. "People can make mountains out of molehills. I don't really follow what goes on in the cyberspace too much."

Cashman confirmed that Major League Baseball called the team Saturday morning after news spread of Olbermann's photo, which showed Yankees baseball operations coaching assistant Brett Weber wearing a headset a few rows behind home plate and holding up four fingers toward the field during Thursday's season opener.

Cashman, who later spoke to the media on the field during batting practice, said the Stadium scoreboard went down in the first after clocking pitches at 912 miles per hour and that Weber was relaying pitch speeds to the Yankees' on-deck hitters.

However, according to baseball operations bulletin C-4, team staffers are forbidden to communicate pitch types and pitch speed to players via hand signals. MLB senior vice president Joe Garagiola Jr. spoke with Yankees assistant general manager Jean Afterman to remind the team of the policy.

"It's just one of those things like the pine tar stuff," Cashman said. "I think everybody realizes there's no advantage here, but there is a bulletin that says you're not supposed to do it. Anyway, I think it's really silly, personally. But we provided all information in a truthful and honest way to Joe." He also said Joe Torre, former Yankees manager-turned-head of MLB's baseball operations, will talk with the league about how to handle similar situations in the future.

Olbermann, 52, a season-ticket holder for 40 years, told a handful of reporters that "it never crossed my mind" that the Yankees were in violation of league rules. He did, however, say he saw a Yankees staffer gesturing to the on-deck circle from the stands "10 or 12 times" last year.

"It doesn't seem to be a big deal and didn't then," said the former MSNBC host, who pointed out his four front-row seats. "There's a guy sitting there, often in Yankee gear, wearing a headset, looks like 'Vince the ShamWow guy,' and he makes various signals to the hitters in the on-deck circle. There's no mistaking it because there are nods of recognition back and forth. I've never seen anything toward the dugout."

Cashman later interrupted Olbermann's interview with the media and joked that Weber was ordering four beers, not signaling information.

Cashman took a shot at the blogosphere, saying: "The psychotics that obsessed about it all day yesterday, I think we all did them a favor by keeping them off the street and preventing them from hurting others."

Asked if he was referring to journalists or MLB, Cashman quickly clarified his statement.

"No, no, I wasn't calling you guys psychotics," he said. "I certainly wasn't calling MLB psychotics. I was calling the blogosphere psychotics that really focused on it because it's silly."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Baseball videos

advertisement | advertise on newsday