Yankees fan Paul Simon: Where have you gone, Cliff Lee-io?

Yankees fan Paul Simon didn't take the Cliff Lee signing well.
Yankees fan Paul Simon didn't take the Cliff Lee signing well.
Posted: February 25, 2011

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Paul Arnold is a violinist for the Philadelphia Orchestra and also a baseball fan whose lifetime rooting interests have been divided neatly into two equal parts.

He's 54 years old. Spent the first 27 of those living in New York and pulling for the Yankees. Been a Philadelphian the last 27 years and, along the way, became a Phillies phanatic.

"There's definitely a rooting half-life involved," he noted.

The transformation is so complete that there was never any doubt where his rooting interest resided when his former and present clubs met two autumns ago with the championship of all of baseball on the line.

"Something amazing happens," he said. "You lose your affinity for your hometown team. I'm a tried-and-true Phillies fan now. And it was borne out when the [2009] World Series between the Yankees and Phillies was happening. Now I'm an official Phillies fan."

Each year the orchestra stages a grand anniversary concert and ball to benefit the Academy of Music. As it happens, this year the special guests for the Jan. 29 gala were opera star Renee Fleming and Paul Simon.

Now, Arnold isn't easily impressed. He is accomplished in his own right. He has made frequent appearances in the Saratoga Chamber Series, been featured more than 25 times in the Philadelphia Orchestra's chamber-music series and orchestra postlude concerts, is a founding member of both the Society Hill Quintet and the touring Dalihapa Ensemble, gives masters classes around the country and was recently featured in a documentary focusing on his arrangement of a Beethoven sonata.

He also has played with Sting, James Taylor, Billy Joel. He has hung out with Oprah Winfrey. When he was a kid, Mickey Mantle once knocked him over while he was waiting for an autograph.

But Paul Simon? This was different. Simon and Art Garfunkel spoke directly to his generation during the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. They sang about peace during the Vietnam War and all the violent protests it spawned.

"I don't get all that thrilled meeting famous people. But Paul Simon represents something really remarkable from my childhood," he said.

The rehearsals were proceeding routinely enough until, one day, Simon abruptly called a halt and leaned over the podium.

Arnold had no idea what was going on, but he was struck by the look on his face. The Paul Simon he grew up listening to was a gentle troubadour who always radiated calm and tranquility while all hell was breaking loose in this country.

This was something entirely different. This was a person who was clearly angry and upset.

Now, Simon is known as a perfectionist. Maybe he thought he detected a sour note. Maybe the harmony among the sections was a little off. The musicians waited expectantly to see what was bothering him so.

And when he spoke, Arnold was reminded of a fact he had forgotten, that one of the most acclaimed singer-songwriters ever was a native New Yorker, like him. But that, unlike him, had remained a passionate Yankees fan.

So Paul Simon leaned over the guy sitting directly in front of him, an orchestra member who always wears a Phillies shirt to rehearsals, and looked him directly in the eye.

"I'm so ticked about the Cliff Lee deal. We had him. We really had him. I thought we had him. You guys are really at the beginning of a dynasty here," he said.

AROUND THE BASES

* Sit down and stay a while: Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is 36 years old and playing with the first guaranteed, multiyear contract of his career. "It's a different feeling for me," he told the New York Daily News. "You send me in a swamp of gators and tell me to fight my way out, I'm on it. I'm used to fighting for everything I've ever gotten in baseball."

* Zack speak: Brewers righthander Zack Greinke, acquired from the Royals during the offseason, had some interesting comments during his first interview with the Milwaukee media in Arizona. Greinke, who suffers from social anxiety disorder, was asked how he would have handled being traded to a large-market team instead.

"There's more people to ignore in New York or Boston than there are in Milwaukee, but I'll still ignore them, probably," he said, according to the Journal-Sentinel.

On big-league money: "Baseball, in my opinion, would be a lot better if you made it the same salary as everybody else in the world and you don't deal with any of the other stuff."

On meetings: "It wears me out to do stuff like our meetings every day. If I actually listened to them it would wear me out. So I go into a little daze."

* From the book of J-Roll: White Sox outfielder Alex Rios channeled his inner Jimmy Rollins this week when asked about his team's chances this season. "Oh, yeah, definitely. We're the team to beat," he said. "We're going to give a hard time to a lot of people out there."

* The real Wild Thing: Troubled actor Charlie Sheen is a major baseball fan. According to TMZ, he flew Giants closer Brian Wilson to Los Angeles on his private jet and also imported former players Eddie Murray, Lenny Dykstra, Todd Zeile, Kenny Lofton and others to screen his classic movie, "Major League." Writer and director David S. Ward gave the introduction in Sheen's private theater, where he also let some guests try on Babe Ruth's 1927 World Series ring.

* Tales of the Citi: Mets outfielder Jason Bay hit just six home runs with 47 RBI in the first season of his 4-year, $66 million contract. But he insists he's not intimidated by the distant fences at Citi Field and predicted he'll bounce back to hit 30 homers this season. "It can be done," he told the New York Daily News.

PHAIR AND PHOUL

* It fits him to a T: Top prospect Domonic Brown is hoping to establish himself in the big leagues this season, but recognizes that he's still just 23 years old and might have to remain patient if he starts this season at Triple A Lehigh Valley. So the gray, sleeveless T-shirt he's been wearing this spring is interesting. Printed on the front in large block letters is the slogan: "Your Time Will Come."

* Middle man: Non-roster catcher Dane Sardinha's brother, Bronson, plays in the Rockies organization. The Honolulu native's middle name has an impressive 20 letters: Kiheimahanaomauiakeo. "It means something like 'Maui warrior god,' " Dane said. "All the people in our family have long middle names."

He added that his middle name is even longer than his brother's, but he goes by Kealoha or just the letter K.

* Quote-unquote: Reds manager Dusty Baker, on hearing that Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright faces season-ending elbow surgery: "It's early for those kinds of problems. Nobody has the depth to overcome [the loss of] a Wainwright. You can replace him, but in Wainwright and Chris Carpenter you're talking about two of the top six or seven pitchers in the league." Baker paused. "Philadelphia has most of the other ones," he added with a laugh.

Counterpoint: It might just be spring bravado, but new Mets general manager Sandy Alderson doesn't seem as impressed as Dusty Baker with the Phillies' rotation. From the New York Daily News:

"While he wouldn't dare say so publicly, Alderson does not disagree with those who would maintain the Phillies, for all their vaunted 'Fab Four' starting pitchers, aren't as good as most people seem to think they are. 'You still have to do it and it remains to be seen if [Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt] all pitch together like [John] Smoltz, [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine,' is all the Mets GM will say on that."

* WAR games: The Wall Street Journal doesn't think that much of the Phillies' offseason transactions, either, rating the team's moves 16th among the 30 big-league teams when measured by the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) formula. "The Phillies scored a coup by signing [Cliff] Lee, but gave up nearly as much by parting with [Jayson] Werth," the article concluded. The Phillies' net score was a minus-0.8.

* Cover guy: No surprise, but the Phillies' 2011 media guide features Roy Halladay on the cover. He's posed in a coat and tie, holding his Cy Young Award.

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