January 18, 2001
The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that they had signed closer Matt Mantei to a four-year contract extension. With this statement, the female teenage population of the greater Phoenix area sighed in relief. Had the Diamondbacks not been able to re-sign the “Ice Man” it would have left girls everywhere with broken hearts. It was bad enough with boy hunk Travis Lee was sent to Philadelphia, a town so rough that they boo Santa Claus. To allow Vanilla Ice’s twin to also leave town would have been more damaging than Leonardo DiCapro getting a pimple. For one reason or another, Matt Mantei has become the poster child for girls 12-15 wherever he has played. I wish I had a dollar for every “Ice Ice Baby” T-shirt I saw on a young girl around the Diamondbacks bullpen. I at least thought that my kids would be immune from this behavior. Instead, Tiffany has become one of Matt’s biggest fans. Her enamor for Matt though is less for his looks and more for his fastball. Early on in his career with the Diamondbacks, she made friends with him and they became buds talking before every game. Usually the conversation would be about pitch selection or Tiffany would suggest he work on another location next time he pitches to a certain batter. When I came home from work yesterday, it was Tiffany who met me at the door to tell me that Mantei had been re-signed for another four years. “That’s good.” I said to her. “Yeah, that should help the other pitchers in the bullpen to understand their roles. If Matt had become a free agent after this season, we would have been in trouble. Do you think he has been working on his breaking ball this winter?” she replied. Ah, all is right with the world when your daughter understands the importance of a good slider.