"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: May 2003

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My good friend, mega-mix legend Steinski , forwarded me the following press release this morning:

New York Yankees centerfielder Bernie Williams has inked a deal with GRP for the release of “The Journey Within,” his recording debut. The CD is expected in stores on July 15. Williams, who plays guitar, composed seven of the album’s tracks, which are said to be in a contemporary and Latin jazz vein. Along with his own compositions are Williams’ interpretations of Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” and Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind.”

Pianist David Benoit is featured on the first single “Just Because.” Other guests include Bela Fleck and Ruben Blades. A limited edition of the CD will feature original cover art of Williams depicted by famed artist LeRoy Neiman.

Williams will perform at Chicago’s House of Blues on July 13, coinciding with Major League Baseball’s All-Star Weekend.

Kansas? LeRoy Neiman? There is no accounting for taste I suppose. Still, I’m mildly curious to hear Sweet Pea’s debut recording when it drops this summer.



While the passion of fans in Boston and New York keep the Sox-Yankess rivalry alive and well, two teams that actually don’t like each other a whole lot are the Twins and the A’s. In their first meeting since the playoffs, Tim Hudson and the A’s beat the Twins 4-1, and the benches cleared twice. What’s the beef? Well, it all starts with the Twinkies catcher, AJ Pierzynski, baseball’s answer to Bill Laimbeer.

According to Oakland outfielder Terrence Long:

“Pierzynski talks all the time. I don’t understand it. I know those guys. Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones and Cristian Guzman – I’m close to those guys, and I don’t understand how they can let that guy talk so much. Just go out and play the game. If talk can win a series, they would have won the next series. The Yankees don’t do it. If anybody can talk, it’d be them.”

..And by the end of Game 5, when Pierzynski hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning off closer Billy Koch, Koch and others criticized him for his brashness and comments on the play, apparently believing they were shown up.

“All I know is when he touched home plate last year, he looked (catcher) Greg Myers in the eye and said, ‘Boo-yah!’ ” A’s outfielder Eric Byrnes said. “It’s not right to do that to a 17-year major league veteran.”

True to form, AJ doesn’t know what the A’s are talking about. It’s refreshing to have a cocky wisenhiemer like Pierzynski around. Boy does he ever look the part. After losing last night, he has another chance to prove himself tonight, this time against Barry Zito. Bon chance, my brother.



Although the Yankees are still a powerhouse in the American League, it’s safe to say that the 2003 version of the Bronx Bombers are not the same team that won World Championships 4 out of 5 years in the late 1990s. As Ed Cossette remarked yesterday:

Yeah, these are the Yankees, but, you know what? I’m not scared of them like I have been in the past.

In Peter Gammons’ latest notebook column, Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro said:

“When it’s time for us to win again,” said Shapiro, “I hope our club is patterned after the Angels and the Mariners. They are good, but most of all, they play the game right all the time.”

The Mariners and the Angels clearly patterned their teams after those great Yankee squads. What’s interesting is that the 2002-03 Yanks look more like the Indians of the ’90s or the original Gashouse Gorillas themselves, the Texas Rangers, than they do like their old selves or the Angels or M’s for that matter.


There was another interesting bit in the Gammons column. This time about Washington Heights’ favorite son (who isn’t named Rod Carew), Manny Ramirez:

When the Rangers played in Boston, Herbert Perry told some of his young teammates this story about Manny Ramirez. “We signed together (Perry as the No. 2 pick, Manny No. 1 of then-Indians scouting director Mickey White),” Perry said. “And if you guys think Manny is a smart hitter now — and he may be the smartest in the game in terms of setting up pitchers — then you should know he was brilliant at 18. Sure, Manny comes across as carefree, but he is all business when it comes to the mental part of the game. We signed, and went to Cleveland. All the signed players are trying to jerk balls out. Not Manny. Head down. Swung through the ball. Line drives. We played a game. First at-bat, Manny set up the pitcher, got the slider he wanted and hit it out.”

Ramirez’s Boston teammates marvel at his ability to set up pitchers and recall situations against them. And if you want an example of how happy he is this season and how dedicated, go to the Sports Club/LA some morning when the Sox are in town and check out Manny and his wife in the yoga class. No kidding. Manny does yoga, has lunch, goes to Fenway, wanders out to the cage in center field and hits.



Pedro Martinez isn’t the only player hurting these days. It looks as if Mike Piazza could possibly miss the remainder of the season. He will be out for at least a few months.

The Times reports:

Though Piazza looked better yesterday, the diagnosis of his injury was fairly grim. An examination by the Mets’ team doctor, Andrew Rokito, established that Piazza had severely strained his right groin and that a muscle there had partly torn away from the bone. The Mets said they could not specify how much time Piazza would miss. General Manager Steve Phillips said six weeks would be “the low end of it.” He and Piazza did not dismiss the possibility that the injury could keep Piazza out for the season.

Yankee reliever Steve Karsay had season-ending surgery yesterday. According to the Daily News:

Dr. James Andrews discovered a tear in his rotator cuff.

“We’re not expecting him back this year,” Cashman said. “My understanding is we’ll have him next spring.”

After the horrible outing from Contreras last night, the Yankees should pull the trigger on a deal for a relief pitcher by the time the Sox reach the Stadium next week. Kelvim Escobar anybody?

Speaking of the world’s most famous sports doctor, Allen Barra had a good piece on Dr. Andrews in last Sunday’s Times that is worth checking out:

Slowly but surely, Andrews and his colleagues have changed the public’s perception of the value of sports medicine. Only a few years back, it was common for callers on radio talk shows to complain about spoiled, pampered athletes who were given expensive medical treatment not available to the fans who pay their salaries. Not true, Andrews said.

“What we’ve learned from treating Bo Jackson and Jack Nicklaus has already been applied to thousands of student-athletes and weekend athletes, and even secretaries and computer operators and others whose injuries aren’t sports related,” he said. “If not for the money available from big-time sports, we could be years behind where we are now in terms of progress.”

Neither Andrews nor any other sports physician will say it this way, but in a very real sense professional athletes have served as guinea pigs. So the next time Jeter makes a headfirst slide, think of it this way: He’s doing it for all of us.

As always, don’t forget to peep Ed Cossette’s take on the last night’s game over at Bambino’s Curse.



I received several e-mails just before last night’s game from giddy Yankee fans, when it was learned that Pedro Martinez would not start. (Martinez has a mild muscle strain in his lower back, and should be back next week.) Well, those who laugh first, laugh least not last, as the Sox rallied and smashed the Yanks 10-7. I kept expecting to hear Fred Willard show up and say, “Wha happen?”

It didn’t look good early on for the Home Nine, as emergency starter Bruce Chen served up a bomb to Alfonso Soriano on the first pitch of the game; fortunately, for Boston, Jeff Weaver couldn’t get his act together either. Even better for Boston, they blew the game open against Jose Contreras, the pitcher George snatched away from them last winter. Contreras got out of a jam in the sixth, only to get smacked around in the seventh. (Boston fans know better than to laugh too much at anything, especially this early in the year, and especially with their ace hurting again. That said, it was a sweet night for Sox fans.)

Weaver and Contreras walked seven batters, and they paid the price for it.

According to the Times:

After the game, Torre was still stressing the positive, praising Contreras for throwing confidently after seeming so tentative in April. It is a worthwhile strategy for a sensitive pitcher like Contreras, who admitted before the game that he put too much pressure on himself early on, partly because of his contract.

“I was very pleased,” Torre said. “I thought this was more of a plus than a minus, in the long run. I thought his command was much better than when he left. I thought his stuff was better, and he seemed to be more confident in letting the ball go.”

…”I faced Contreras once in spring training, and all he was throwing was off-speed pitches,” Ortiz said. “I saw him tonight throwing a lot of fastballs. I guess they’ve been working on that. I guess somebody told him that the big league club is different from whatever he played before. He’s got a good fastball; he’s got to use it.”

That was Contreras’s plan, and catcher Jorge Posada was pleased to see him execute it. “I thought he was more aggressive,” Posada said. “His stuff was better, and he came after hitters. It’s just a matter of time to put it all together.”

Ramiro Mendoza didn’t fair much better in his first appearence against his former team, allowing 4 consecutive singles to start the fifth inning, and giving up 3 runs. Jason Giambi came up with the bases loaded and just missed hitting a grand slam, skying out to right field instead. So it goes when you are slumping.

There was some minor drama in the first when big Manny was hit in the elbow with a Jeff Weaver pitch. Manny, who leans out over the plate as much as Jeter, Soriano, or any other modern slugger, glared at Weaver and had some challenging words for the Yankees string bean starter as well. God forbid his fat ass could be expected to duck out of the way of an inside pitch. Instead of putting his head down and jogging to first, it becomes a school yard stare-off. The funny part is by the time Manny reached second, he was calmly chatting it up with Soriano.

Jorge Posada lead off the next inning and Bruce Chen pulled a Shawn Estes and threw behind him, missing him all together (which considering the size of Jorgie’s rump is no small feat). The ump immediately warned both teams, and the inside pitch was effectively erased for the rest of the game. Joe Torre shook his head disapprovingly. Torre talked earlier this year about how modern players have no conception of game awareness when it comes to getting hit. Every time a slugger is plunked it is a personal affront, a diss. Jim Kaat, announcer for the YES network, could feel Torre’s pain.

While the Sox-Yankee rivalry is as heated as ever for us fans, these are not the Carlton Fisk-Bill Lee Sox vs. the Bronx Zoo Yanks. The ballplayers are all friends. Win or lose, they all belong to the same club. Does this make for a watered-down game? I don’t know. It just makes for a different game. Sometimes you just want to yell at these batters, ‘Get over yourself, and jog down to first tough guy.’ Either that, or go nuts and start a fight. But the posturing is tiresome and unbecoming, especially for a great player like Manny.



In his latest column, Rob Neyer answers e-mails regarding Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball.”
Neyer also comments on the reception “Moneyball” is getting from the mainstream press (this means you Tracy Ringolsby):

The media coverage of Moneyball has, to this point at least, focused on 1) the reactions of a few baseball men who are portrayed in the book as something less than brilliant (they’re not all brilliant? alert the authorities!), 2) a few possible errors (errors in a book? say it ain’t so!), and 3) Billy Beane’s ego (ego in a baseball executive? stop the presses!).

Don’t pay any attention to all that stuff. Instead, remember two things. One, that Michael Lewis — and not Billy Beane — wrote Moneyball. And two, that Michael Lewis writes crackling good stories, and this might be his best story yet.

You can add Aaron Gleeman and Larry Mahnken to the growing list of baseball enthusiasts who have devoured “Moneyball.” Check out their glowing reviews pronto.

As good as “Moneyball” is, it is not the only baseball book of the season that is worth reading. Jay Jaffe has a good post today about baseball books, with some essential links for those who are interested.

Jon Weisman, over at Dodger Thoughts, has a thoughtful, and compelling write-up of Michael Shapiro’s new book, “The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, the Dodgers, and Their Final Pennant Race Together.” (There is no perma-link for the article, so just scroll down.)

Finally, Michiko Kakutani reviews “Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville,” a collection of baseball writings by the late Stephen Jay Gould. The Times usually devotes one issue of their Sunday Book Review to the latest in Baseball literature. Perhaps this Sunday will be the day.



There is a reason why Red Sox fan Ed Cossette and I get along so well: we are wired the same way. We just happen to root for different teams. Here is an e-mail I received from Ed yesterday afternoon:

Hate to sound doom and gloom (though it’s the nature of Sox fans) but do you really think the Yankees will lose 4 in a row? I look at the Yankees getting swept by Texas and think…they are going to come into Fenway pissed off and needing a win badly.

Man, I can’t stand the tension. By this afternoon I’m going to be a wreck.

Although I’m a lifelong Yankee fan, I’ve got a good dose of gloom and doom in my blood as well (maybe that’s because I root for the Knicks and Jets). I’m cautiously optimistic at best, and never over confident. That is why I have rucchmones with Ed. You can bet that no matter the outcome of these games, we will both be nervous wrecks. Ah, to be young and a baseball fan.

The Yankees had Lady Luck on their side last night in Boston, and before you know it, they put a five spot on the board against Casey Fossum, and went on to win 7-3. Fossum didn’t pitch poorly, but in the first, after seeing-eye base hits from Soriano, Giambi, and Matsui—not to mention an impossibly fortunate bloop double by Derek Jeter, Raul Mondesi rocked a 2-2 fastball off the green monster for a bases clearing triple. Fossum settled down after that, but the damage had been done:

”It was really disappointing,” Fossum said. ”A lot of crazy stuff seemed like it happened in that first inning. But I got out of that and I told myself that inning is over and I am just going to try to give us a chance to win the rest of the ballgame. I felt like I did that. I came back strong and still put us in somewhat of a position to win the game.

”I was making really good, quality pitches, but the balls were finding holes. We had the shift on for [Jason] Giambi and he hit it to shortstop. Even the first hit of the game was just a little ground ball that found a hole.”

Boomer Wells, who turns 40 today, pitched efficiently for the win, and the Yankee bullpen avoided any major drama. (Think Boomer went out drinking last night?) This was a much-needed victory for the Bombers, especially considering that they have to face Prince Pedro tonight.


With the slumping Giambi brothers reunited in Boston this week, Jason called in his first hitting coach for some tips. Enter John Giambi, stage left:

“He’s come in and we’ve talked,” Jason said. “I’ve brought him into some of the cities. He’s the one who built my swing as I kid. I wanted to see if he’d see anything. He watches all the games, so I wanted to see if he sees anything or if he could see me through it.”

…Manager Joe Torre called Giambi’s troubles a drought, no matter how long it has lasted.

“He certainly feels like a major disappointment to everyone, which is what he should feel like when we count on him as much as we do,” said Torre. “But as long as you’re busting your tail, you have the respect of your teammates and that’s what matters.”



With the Yanks and Sox slated to play the first of 19 games against each other tonight in Boston, there has been plenty of ink spilled on the two teams. Here are a couple of articles of note…

1. Jay Jaffe , the futility infielder, has a terrific analysis of the Yankee offense thus far (pitching and—yikes—defense will come later this week).

2. Joel Sherman wrote a thorough and convincing case for Rocket Clemens not only being the best pitcher of his generation, but the best pitcher of all-time in Sunday’s Post. Sherman is one of the few tabliod writers who is open to Sabermetrics and he builds his case on the writings of Bill James and others. Surprisingly in-depth stuff from the Post (not Sherman, who is excellent on TV and on the radio):

Look, I know – as sterile as you make it – this is a subjective choice and folks who loved Koufax or Gibson or Grove are never going to take Clemens to their bosom. I have never particularly warmed to Clemens the person, but the more and more I have examined the record and considered the conditions that record was forged in, the more I have come to recognize the conversation about the greatest ever now must include Clemens.

It has taken me a while to warm up to Clemens too, but I promised myself during the winter that I would try and enjoy watching him get his 300th victory, no matter how obnoxious the YES coverage becomes. It hasn’t been a struggle either. Clemens isn’t the nasty, head-hunter he has been in the past—sometimes I miss that—but he has been fun to watch this year. Even in the games he’s lost, he hasn’t been awful. What I get out of watching Clemens, is just how much work pitching is for him. Forget about his legendary workouts, just watching him on the mound is a testament to the hard work it takes to be a great pitcher, let alone a great 40-year old pitcher. He can seem artless, pounding the ball in, time and time again, but he is impressive.
3. Gordon Edes details the emergence of Lil’ Sori. Looks like we aren’t alone in labeling him as a freak:

Teammate Jason Giambi has called Soriano a ”freak, a cartoon character.”

…Todd Zeile, new to the Yankees this season, is playing for his ninth big-league team.

”He can be as good as he wants to be,” Zeile said. ”He’s phenomenal. He can do all the things you can do in this game — hit, hit with power, run, field.

”The thing I enjoy about him as much as anything is that he seems to have fun doing it. He plays with a smile on his face, like he’s on a sandlot field. People think it’s easy for him, but he works hard.

”He’s quick and strong and swings a heavy bat, a long bat [35-inch, 33-ounce model]. He’s not a guy who looks like the Hulk-type player we see in the big leagues, but he’s quick — he gets his power from the elbows down.

”Watch his swing — he seems to start from nothing, but you slow it down and watch him, he lifts his foot but it doesn’t go forward, he just puts his foot back down and gives you that short swing. He eliminates all that movement.”

Who will be the heroes and who will be the goats of the series? Of course, it’s too early to tell, but my random picks for unsung heroes go to Bill James’ boy, Todd Walker for the Sox, and the seldom-seen Bubba Trammell for the Bombers. It could be a long couple of days for both bullpens.

I will be linking to Ed Cossette’s wonderful blog, Bambino’s Curse each time the Yanks and Sox match-up this year, but you should go there even when the two rivals aren’t playing each other.



I received the following e-mail from Bronx Banter correspondent Christopher DeRosa over the weekend. Dig his considered and astute take on “MoneyBall:”

It is probably going to be by far the baseball book of the year. Puts the A’s sabermetric experiment in the context of the information age economy. There’s lots here that’s intriguing and fun: “Put a Milo on him.” Ron Washington proves as quotable as Oscar Gamble in “Balls”. And Lewis gets Bill James better than anyone. Some thoughts on the book:
You get the sense that Alderson and Beane imposed sabermetrics on the A’s not just though force of personality, but through physical intimidation.

The A’s have some studies they’re obviously not sharing. But some of the results appear to be that they value reaching base far more highly than slugging, and that they don’t believe, as the outside sabermetricians do, that hitters’ strikeouts are no big deal.

We learn that Beane toyed with going over entirely to virtual scouting. I’ve thought you could do that successfully, but you still need someone to go talk to the kid before you know to put a Milo on him.

A large part of the book concerns the A’s taking seven sabermetric specials in the first round of the 2002 draft. Is it really that great to use first round draft picks on guys nobody else wants? The Oakland scouts rate Beane’s guys as like 30th round picks or no prospects. Lewis implies that the rest of the teams would draft in agreement with the scouts. If that’s the case, why not take some chances in the first round and pick up your secret weapons later? Then you wouldn’t have to strike clandestine deals with guys to persuade them not cash in on their surprising status as first round picks. You could just pay them whatever you pay the 7th round picks. What I think is that the revolution is further along than Lewis suggests, and that if Beane tried to let these guys slide, one of the other sabr-GMs would snap them up. ‘Cause otherwise it is stupid to draft these guys in the first round.

Alderson circulated a pamphlet internally in which a researcher claimed “defense is at best 5% of baseball.” Today, researchers would say it is more, like 18%. But even if it was 5%, that wouldn’t be that useful a piece of information. It would be about 5% under prevailing conditions, within the parameters of everybody trying to field a real defense. A team that just says, “Deploy Ken Phelpses!” can ensure that fielding is a lot more than 5%, because there is no limit on how many runs you can give up, and therefore no limit on how badly you can field. Each walk-drawing hitter might be individually more valuable than the conventional fielder he replaces, but as a group, you can lose your ability to cover the field. That pamphlet may have helped screw up the A’s of the mid-90s.

“Moneyball” fails to take up the question of starting Hudson over Zito in the 2002 ALDS. Howe took the blame, but is it realistic that Beane tells him when to steal and who to play out of position, but let’s him decide the playoff rotation? I actually sympathize with the decision to go with Hudson. My point in raising the issue is that it really doesn’t work for the activist GM to say, I wash my hands of the whole postseason thing, it’s a crapshoot. Too bad, but baseball has championships. If they’re crapshoots, then you’d better learn to play craps as well as you can.

Overall, “Moneyball” whetted my appetite but I could have scarfed another 300 pages easily. He told a lean story well, but there is no end of my fascination with this subject and I’d have liked a whole lot more.

DeRosa makes a great point about the starting rotation in the playoffs. I also agree that Lewis’ portrait of Bill James is the best I’ve read to date. And of course, I wish the book was longer too. I don’t know that it would be good for the book, but it would be good for us geeks.

There are several great bits with Washington. My favorite is how Oakland’s infield coach reacts to the defensively-challenged players he is given to work with:

There were times that Wash thought the players Billy sent him shouldn’t even bother to bring their gloves; they should jut take their bats with them into the field, and hit the ball back into the pitcher.



I wasn’t steamed about the Yankees yesterday, honest. More than anything, I just felt resigned. Sometimes your team is going to suck, and you have to suck it up. I called my girlfriend Emily late in the day and we commiserated briefly about the game. Emily is a relatively new baseball fan, and she is still getting acclimated to how dramatically the game can influence her boyfriend’s mental state. But she had a great observation yesterday that I thought I would share with y’all:

Even though the Yankees lost, it was great to see how many people were at the game. It was a beautiful day, and there were all those people out there watching it, not to mention thousands more watching it on TV, or listening to it on the radio. People made phone calls and caught up with each other. I guess what I mean to say is that sports are really great because they really bring people together. That’s important. Espcially these days when everyone seems so estranged from each other.


Oh yeah, I did get an e-mail from my old pal Shawn Nuzzo, regarding the Nick Johnson injury. I hate to say I told you so, but he told me so:

You’re right. I told you so. This bum Johnson isn’t fit to be mentioned in the same paragraph as Oscar Azocar. Before his 4-6 week injury, Nick Johnson had the potential (if he trained 20 hours a day and ate well) of becoming the Next Kevin Maas. But now, I’d just as well trade him for a bag of used baseballs and 3 batting helmets.

Consider me tweeked. Ah, what can you expect from the lead singer of a band called “The Clap?”

BUMMING John Thomson 3-hit


John Thomson 3-hit the Yanks yesterday at the Stadium, as the Rangers swept a series for the first time ever in the Bronx. Thomson was nasty, but the Yankees were lifeless as well. Bernie Williams hit into a first inning double play in all three games, Jason Giambi continues to hear the boo’s, and Jorge Posada went 2-17 on the homestand (the Yanks were 1-5 over that span). Plain and simple, the Yankees are mired in a slump. I guess this won’t be1998-redux after all. Think Mt. Saint George is about to blow in Tampa?

After the game, GM Brian Cashman didn’t mince words:

“In a nutshell, we stink right now.”

…”[We stink] really in all aspects,” Cashman continued. “Both mentally and performance-wise on the offense, defense and pitching sides.

“We look flat. That’s how you look when you’re not playing well, when you’re making errors, when you’re not hitting. I think people describe it as flat. You can describe it any way you want, but it’s not good.”

…”Maybe going into the jungle will shock us back into playing good baseball,” GM Brian Cashman said. “Maybe that’s what we need because we look real flat right now.

…Cashman has also heard from George Steinbrenner, who, according to the GM, “feels the way you’d think he would feel” about the way his $180 million team is playing.

The Red Sox beat the Angels yesterday at the Fens, and now share first place with the Yankees. Let the rivalry begin (again). Pass the Pepto.

Here is my question: which Giambi will have a game-winning or game-altering hit first?

FLAT Let’s try this


Let’s try this again. I’m puppy-sitting at my cousin’s place down here in beautiful Greenwich Village this weekend, and unsuccesfully tried a post about the Yankee game this afternoon. It didn’t woik. If there is half a message that appears on the page, please excuse my sloppiness. But it fits the mood of the afternoon, as the Yankees dropped another game to Texas, this time by the score of 5-2.

While we are well aware of the Yankees’ weakness—the bullpen and the defense, it has been the offense that has let them down of late. Texas retired the last 16 batters of the game, and the Yankees have now lost their third series in a row. After starting the year on fire, at 18-3, the Bombers have gone 9-12.

Hideki Matsui made two errors in left field this afternoon, and Joe Torre said the team is “flat.” I’m certain that the Sunday papers will be filled with columns about how lousy the Yanks have played recently. Isn’t that something to look forward to? Oy.

The Red Sox failed to take advantage though, as the streaking Angels rallied to knock Boston off 6-2. If you think the New York press will be grim tomorrow, wait til we get a load of what the Boston media rips into Trot Nixon. Nixon, the Red Sox right fielder made a terribly embarrasing mental error late in the game, which will haunt the Dirt Dog for a long while.

With men on second and third and one out in the 8th inning (or was it the 9th?), Nixon caught a fly ball in foul territory and then, thinking it was third out, flipped the ball into the stands.


Maybe the Yanks and Sox will lose again tomorrow just to get good and ready for their three-game set which begins Monday.

Stay tuned…

FLAT I had to go


I had to go into work this afternoon, so I missed another lame performance from the Yanks, who fell to the Rangers



Jay Jaffe and I were both in attendence at the Yankees-Angels game on Thurday night. Check out his write-up of the game, and if you’ve got a little extra scratch, consider snagging some of his official “Futility Infielder” gear. Made for goils as well as for the fellas.



Steve Keane over at The Eddie Kranepool Society is understandably exasperated with the Mets season.

I have never seen a player injure himself the way Mike Piazza did last night. He moved back from an inside pitch and looks like he may have pulled or torn his groin. Unbelievable. If the groin is torn, then Piazza will be gone for at least 6 weeks which may as well be next year. As it stands now 1-4 on this road trip 17-25 overall 12 games
back of the Braves with no sign that things will turn around it may be time to look at our options.

With Piazza now out, Keane suggests that the Great Mets Fire Sale of 2003 start now. It’s hard to disagree.



In Buck Showalter’s emotional return to Yankee Stadium the Rangers clipped the Yankess 8-5 in 12 innings. The game features some nifty defense, including a shoe-string catch by Hideki Matsui in extra innings, and two stellar plays by Texas left-fielder Donnie Sadler. (The Rangers gunned down two Yankee runners trying to score last night.) Hank Blalock had six RBI to lead Texas.

According to the Times:

Blalock, 22, who entered the game with a .371 average, highest in the majors. Blalock ripped a three-run double off the left-field wall against Clemens in the second, and 10 innings later, he won the game with another three-run double off Juan Acevedo.

After trailing 5-1, the Yanks tied the game and had plenty of chances to win the game, but they couldn’t get the big hit (both teams left 14 runners on base). Roger Clemens put an end to all the speculation surrounding his chance to notch win number 300 in Boston next week, although he is due to make his next two starts vs. the Sox. Rocket walked a season high 5, but also struck out 10.

It was a night of dumb luck for Raul Mondesi. In the first inning, after Clemens struck out Jurassic Carl Everett and Hank Blalock, he issued a base on balls to Alex Rodriguez, who promptly stole second. Rafael Palmeiro singled to right, and Mondesi had plenty of time to nail A Rod at the plate. Instead, he air-mailed the throw directly into the Rangers dugout.

I thought it was pretty funny. Everett was called out on strikes and he argued the call. Clemens reared back and was throwing gas. So was Mondesi. The inning had a distinct Nuke LaLoosh feel.

Hours later, in the bottom of the 12th, Mondesi hit a home run which just nicked the left-field foul pole. But it was called a foul ball, and nobody on the Yankee bench had a good enough look at it, so there was no arguement.

Just a long, stupid night for Mondesi and the Yanks.

Fortunately for the Bombers, the Angels edged the Red Sox in Boston, 6-5. The Yanks hold their slim lead on the Sox by a game.

OUCH One of my


One of my favorite people that I ever worked with in the film business is a kid named Shawn Nuzzo. I hired Nuzzo as a runner on “The Blair Witch Project II” (don’t laugh, that job paid for my turntables), and trained him as an apprentice film editor; the following year, we worked on the equally memorable cinematic gem, “Swimfan,” turned out to be my final gig before I chose to leave the business. How can I describe Nuzzo? He doesn’t look like Fred Flinstone exactly, but he looks like he grew up in Bedrock (Long Island actually). Besides being a singer in a punk rock band, Nuzzo, now in his mid-20s, is a Yankee fan. He came of age during the dark days of the late ’80s, and early ’90s—Oscar Azocar (who appears in this week’s edition of “The Pinstriped Bible”) was one of his favorites.

Anyhow, Nuzzo was great to have around the cutting room, because I had someone to gasbag about the Yankees with. Working late, as we often did, was less painful, when we were able to listen to the Yankee game on the radio. One of the best parts of following the Yanks with Shawn was how often we disagreed about the team we both loved: he loved Sterling and Kay, I did not; I loved Nick Johnson; he did not.

I bought the hype about Johnson before I ever saw him play, and when I did see him, I fell in love with the kid. I just liked his looks. I understood why Torre liked him too. It wasn’t just a Pizzan thing (although I’m sure that didn’t hurt); like Torre when he was coming up, Johnson looked older than he was because of his doughy features. He could have played the heavy in an old gangster movie. Nickie looked as if he would right at home having played in the ‘teens or the 1920s. Nuzzo, on the other hand, disliked Johnson because of the way he looked. No questions asked. He just didn’t like his looks. The two of us would go back and forth about him to no avail. I foolishly thought I could change Nuzzo’s mind about Johnson: never happened.

I bring this up because just a few days ago I was thinking to myself how nice it’s been to see Johnson finally start to develop into the player he was predicted to be. Maybe I should call Nuzzo, and see what he has to say now, I thought. Of course, I thought too soon. When I heard that Johnson will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a hand injury last night before the game, all I could think of was Nuzzo. Nuzzo, shaking his head, rolling his eyes, saying, “I told you so.”

According to The New York TImes:

It was almost as if things had gone too well for Nick Johnson. His wrist and thumb injuries from spring training had disappeared, and he was having a fabulous season. Then he fouled a ball back on Wednesday, and everything changed.

Johnson felt a tingling sensation in his right hand, the same hand that bothered him so much in 2000 that he missed the entire season.

…Johnson was somber but managed a joke. “Just got to keep trying to strengthen it,” he said. “That’s the only thing I can do. Maybe drink some milk.”

Somewhere, Shawn Nuzzo is not smiling.

Johnson isn’t the Yankees only casualty. It looks as if reliever Steve Karsay is done for the season. This isn’t entirely surprising, and it may not take the bullpen blowing a couple of games to Boston this coming week for Brian Cashman to swing a deal. According to Lee Sinins:

Yankees P Steve Karsay had another setback while rehabbing his shoulder injury, will see Dr. James Andrews today and there is concern that he could be out for the season.

After 2.35 ERA/21 RSAA and 3.26 ERA/11 RSAA seasons, Karsay’s been on the DL for the whole season. He has a 3.88 career ERA, compared to his league average of 4.62, and 47 RSAA in 321 games.

It is only a slight exaggeration to say every single pitcher in baseball is now being mentioned as potential trade bait to go into the Yankees bullpen.

The news for the Mets was even more dire, as Mike Piazza strained his groin attempting to avoid an inside pitch by Jason Schmidt last night in San Francisco. PIazza had just started to hit too. Although there is no official news yet, Piazza had to be carried off the field and the news is not good:

“He’s in a great deal of pain,” said Jay Horwitz, the Mets’ media relations director. “It’s a substantial injury.”




My cousin Scott—an avid Red Sox fan—works on the floor of the Exchange. He hooked me up with choice seats for the Yankee game last night: Section 4, Box 12, Row A! (Hey now.) The seats were just to the left of home plate, three rows back. It is a strange vantage point—you are slightly lower than the playing field—but remarkable all the same. (The phonies sitting around us were annoying—many of them didn’t even bother watching the game—but I expected it to be clown town down there, so it was part of the fun.) You get a great look at the hitters, especially when they are on deck. Watching these guys, I was struck at just how big most of them are: Giambi is a moose. Matsui and Mondesi are stacked too: ass and thighs for days. Troy Glaus? Dag. The man is a truck. These guys are simply not Hondu, Boog Powell big, they are all ripped.

You know who surprised me the most? Soriano. The guy doesn’t look as thin as he does on television. He’s got legs for days. Man, the kid looks like a horse. Soriano has been compared to a young Sammy Sosa, and it has been suggested that he may eventually bulk up like Sosa. Quite frankly, he doesn’t need to. He’s plenty cut as it is. Watching him take his practice swings in the on-deck circle was the most memorable part of the evening. Soriano coils back and unleashes that quick, vicious swing, as if he had been designed by a video-game programmer or a comic book artist: it’s like liquid excitement. It’s so flashy, it doesn’t seem real. It’s like a self-conscious swing that a teenager would concoct looking at himself in the mirror, because it looked cool.

Soriano didn’t just look good taking warm-up swings last night either. He opened the game with a homer, later added a triple, and had a couple of deep flyouts, which left the crowd gasping as well. Derek Jeter had three hits, Bernie had two, and the rest of the Yankee congo line was back as the Yankees pounded the Angels 10-4. (The Sox creamolished the Rangers in Boston, and the Yanks remain one game up.)

Jeff Weaver wasn’t great, but he pitched well enough (perhaps he was thrown off by all the run support). I like Weaver, I like the fact that he’s a red ass, but his delivery, the way he gathers himself, is odd. He just slings the ball up there. He’s the inverse of Tim Hudson, or Mariano Rivera. We were treated to an appearance by Rivera in the ninth, and he was beautiful to watch. His motion is fluid and economical, and from where we were sitting, you could see just how much movement his pitches have. Mmmm.

All in all, it was a satisfying night, and we went home happy.


Steve Karsay had a set-back in his rehab yesterday, and The Daily News is reporting that he could be through for the year. Jose Contreras—who apparently came to the States without a four-seam fastball—is on his way back to the big club, just in time for the Boston series. If the pen gets rocked by the Sox, look for George to press the panic button and make a move for a reliever pronto.



ESPN is running a “Moneyball” blue plate special this afternoon. Catch an excerpt from Michael Lewis’ new book, along with related articles from Rob Neyer and Eric Neel. Neyer also has an excellent interview with Lewis that is worth checking out.

There are several compelling exchanges, but my favorite bit was when Neyer asked Lewis:

RN: …So what was the hardest thing to leave out of the book?

ML: Well it was funny to know that the players refer to Barry Zito’s San Francisco apartment “The Stabbin’ Cabin.”

RN: Hrmm, I think I’ll leave that one alone …

Anything else?

ML: There were story lines that spun right off the Oakland A’s that led more deeply into other clubs, especially the Yankees, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. I wrote a chapter about watching a game with Blue Jays GM J.P Ricciardi that might have been the funniest thing in the book — J.P being a very funny man — but I had to cut it, because it just got in the way of the story. I think someone ought to do what I had hoped to do, and take apart the business mind of Rangers owner Tom Hicks. Again, it just didn’t fit in my story. The Oakland character I was saddest to lose was Tim Hudson.

I don’t know that I would have left the Zito thing alone, but that’s just me—I love that kind of “North Dallas Forty” bawdy horseshit. Plus, I don’t write for ESPN. I would also loved to have read more about Tim Hudson, and the Ricciardi segment sounds terrific too. But I admire Lewis’ criticial facilities, because anything that takes away from the story is ultimately superfluous, and must be cut (there goes my editing background rearing its ugly head).

Anyhow, don’t miss out on any of the fun.



After the Yanks bombed Seattle’s erstwhile ace Freddy Garcia last week, I wondered what had gone wrong with him (Garcia was roughed up again last night). Derek Zumsteg wrote an excellent column about Garcia over at Baseball Prospectus earlier this week. It seems that Freddy likes to party, and not only that, he may have playing hurt for some time now:

Garcia’s a partier. It’s known, and it’s been interesting to see local sportswriters tiptoe around the issue, once afraid to mention it and now going so far as to say he is in fact a partier, but offering no actual proof. There are questions about Garcia’s work ethic and preparation, and it’s particularly awful to see him when he comes completely unraveled. There’s a look on his face as if he’s already checked out for the game as he serves up fastballs hitters can smoke, and I start to wish Bob Melvin would walk out to the mound, ask Freddy if he was injured, and then kick him in the balls so he can call in an emergency replacement from the bullpen. I don’t really think anyone should kick anyone in the balls, by the way, that’s just how frustrating Freddy’s been to watch. I want to reach down from the stands and throttle him and say, “if you don’t want to pitch, fake a muscle pull, don’t keep giving up runs before we can get someone up in the bullpen. Intentionally walk every batter if you have to, it’ll be less painful.”

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver