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Cashman rappels in holiday spirit

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman smiles as he

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman smiles as he is about to rappel down the 22-story Landmark Building in Stamford, Conn. (Dec 3, 2010) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

STAMFORD, Conn. - Wearing a brown wig of spiked and blond-highlighted hair, work boots and a skull-and-crossbones bandana, and looking as if he hadn't shaved in days, Brian Cashman rappelled down the 350-foot Landmark Building Friday morning without incident.

Upon hitting the ground - "landing softly'' probably is the better description - the Yankees' general manager was expansive in his description of the experience, which he will repeat Sunday night, donning a full elf costume, in the Heights and Lights event that kicks off this city's holiday season.

He was not as expansive about the news that has dominated the week - primarily the progress made in the Derek Jeter negotiations and the soon-to-be-announced deal with closer Mariano Rivera. "Both sides are working hard trying to find common ground," he said of the Jeter talks. "You just have to go through the process."

The only news Cashman provided Friday was that there won't be a second meeting with top free-agent target Cliff Lee before the winter meetings.

"I won't," said Cashman, who met with Lee in Arkansas shortly after the free-agency period began in November. "I have to do this today and this thing Sunday, so I'm not flying anywhere between now and then."

The "this" Cashman referred to was what brought him here at 5:30 Friday morning. Cashman, in an elf costume and accompanied by Santa Claus - a role played by a local resident, Brian Van Orsdel - will rappel down the 21-story Landmark Building Sunday afternoon and participate in a Christmas tree lighting afterward. He'll fly to Orlando Sunday night in a friend's private jet.

Cashman said he first had the idea last year. "Stamford does such a good job every year with the events they put on, and so I was in there and I said, 'That looks awesome. I'd do that,' " he said.

Accompanied by Van Orsdel, who does rock climbing as a hobby and has been mentoring Cashman, the GM began his descent at just after 7. It took a while to get going as he gingerly crawled from the roof to the side of the building, spending the first five minutes looking like a very uncomfortable Spider-Man, clinging nearly flat-faced against the cold concrete. But Cashman made the descent in just over 15 minutes. His second trip, made while wearing reindeer antlers, was smoother and took less than 10 minutes.

After his first trip, Cashman, admitted to being scared. He is afraid of heights, after all. But in just over four hours, he made five trips down the building.

"I [wasn't] sure what it was going to be like, to be honest," Cashman said. "But I'm glad I at least made it. I'm excited just to be able to feel like I've done something that most of the people in the world have never done, so that's kind of cool."

And, um, why would the GM of the Yankees, or anyone, do such a thing?

"This job is definitely getting to me," he said with a laugh. "It affects you."

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