'11 Waldman's last year on Yankee radio?
How long has Suzyn Waldman been on the job? This long: She said the reason she was assigned to cover the Yankees in 1987 was that they were perceived as the other team in town.
"The guys all wanted to go to Shea," she said.
This was outside the Yankees' clubhouse yesterday morning, the first day of Waldman's 25th season covering the team as a radio and TV reporter and, for the last seven, as a radio commentator.
Twenty-five. She considered that number as she entered the clubhouse for the first time this regular season.
"I have been doing this longer than I was in theater, which is stunning to me, because I spent my whole life preparing to be in theater," she said. "Twenty-five years, to me, sounds like nothing, but I know some people in that room were not even alive."
Pretty much everything has changed since then, from the Yankees' relative status in town, to the way women journalists are treated in the locker room, to Waldman's level of confidence. "The first time I walked into a clubhouse at the old Yankee Stadium, I was terrified," she said. "I had never done that. I didn't want to make any mistakes, and people weren't very nice.
"I was thinking about the difference walking into this in 2011 and 1987. I am not a different person but a whole different persona."
En route, Waldman has gone from a little-known staffer on a new radio station -- she was the first voice ever heard on WFAN -- to half of the most polarizing sports announcing team in New York.
With the possible exception of WFAN host Mike Francesa, there are no more reliable lightning rods in local sports media than Waldman and John Sterling.
So far, that has not hurt their careers. But they enter this season facing uncommon uncertainty.
For one thing, CBS Radio's contract with the Yankees expires after 2011, and although it is unlikely CBS will let them go, there figure to be other suitors, including ESPN.
For another, the contracts of Sterling and Waldman will be up. Finally, this is the first full season after the death of George Steinbrenner, who was loyal to both radio voices, Waldman in particular. (The team has the right to approve or disapprove of announcers.)
The Yankees probably will not address the radio team until after the season, but for all of the criticism he gets for his shtick and his imprecision, Sterling is likely to return.
Waldman's status is less clear. She said she has not gotten any indication from management about her future and has not sought one.
"I think they appreciate who I am and what I bring, but I've never asked," she said.
"I have a whole year. I lived my whole life in theater. Shows open, shows close. I never want to leave here, but that's not in my control."
Waldman, 64, said she has not tired of the grind and would like to continue "until they tell me to go away. I'd find something else to do if they said that's it, but I can't imagine not doing this."
She shrugged off the notion that the death of The Boss might affect her job security.
"I don't think it's relevant," she said. "George was someone who was as special a human being as I'm ever going to meet in my life. But everything changes."
Waldman made the point that she and Sterling provide fans something "pretty singular and pretty different from any other place."
That much is indisputable, but depending on your point of view, it is for better or worse.
"I think it's for better, actually," Waldman said. "That's a good thing, as opposed to being just another person."
No one -- fan or critic -- ever would accuse Waldman of being that.