"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: November 2004

           Newer posts

The Divine Ms. Em

During the ALDS I posted a goofy snap shot of myself in front of a candy store on Arthur avenue in the Bronx. A couple of readers asked why I didn’t include a shot with my gal Emily. She was with me that day, “so what gives?” they said. I’ll tell you what: the picture with her in it didn’t do her justice and I just couldn’t run it. I value my life, dude. I may write about Em here but I’m not about to post a lame picture of her if I know what’s good for me (and surprisingly, I do!).

Well, better late than never. With the help of my technical guru Alex Ciepley, here are a couple of shots of me with the Minister of Defense. They are a bit dated, but hey, we haven’t changed much since they were taken. Plus, they were all approved by Emilish herself. Talk about official.

All smiles hanging out in Chinatown.

At my brother’s wedding in the summer of 2002.

Later that year at my man Alan Friedman’s wedding in Jersey City.

Come Together

The Yankee coaching staff is virtually set for 2005. Mel Stottlemyre, Don Mattingly, Luis Sojo and Roy White are all expected to return. Joe Girardi will replace Willie Randolph while Neil Allen will become the new bullpen coach. Last week, the New York Times reported that Stottlemyre would not come back. But now, it appears as if he will. According to Anthony McCarron in the Daily News:

“I have an interest in coming back, that I’ll tell you,” Stottlemyre said when reached at his home in Washington State. “It’s just that we have not gotten together yet. I don’t think I should get any further into it than that. I’ll let any other comment come from the club.

“Hopefully, it can be resolved.”

…There were several published reports in the past week that Stottlemyre, who will turn 63 on Saturday, was not coming back and the coach said he was stunned and hurt by them.

“I’m quite upset,” Stottlemyre said. “There’s no truth to any of them … There’s been everything in there that my wife (Jean) wanted me to retire, everything. She’s been real upset. Please put the word out.

“I’ve been hunting and it was a tremendous trip and I was completely out of circulation. I hadn’t had any talks with club officials. Now I’m trying to catch up.”

In other Yankee news, general manager Brian Cashman, who is attending the general managers’ meetings in Florida, told reporters yesterday:

“It’s more likely going up a little bit than it is going down,” Cashman told reporters in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton. “Because we aren’t getting any relief of any major free agents involved.

“But again, my preference is to put the best team out there that can win a championship.

“It’s unlikely we’ll have a drastic change in payroll.”

The payroll will increase. It’s a shock, I know.

Extra, Extra

Hot off the press, the first edition of The Hardball Times Annual is ready for sale. I’ve contributed an article–a reworking of a piece I first posted here about my trip to the winter meetings in New Orleans last year. The book also contains work by Aaron Gleeman, Larry Mahnken, Ben Jacobs, Steve Treder, Studes, Vinay Kumar and the rest of the THT staff. There are also guest columns by the likes of Brian Gunn and Bill James. The book is available in traditional book form for $16.75 (plus shipping and tax); it can also be purchased as an e-book for $6.25. Get a jump on your Holiday shopping and check, check it out.


Moving Picture Monday

It’s a light day in the baseball universe here in New York. Bill Madden reports that Don Mattingly will return as the Yankees’ hitting coach in 2005. According to George King, Mel Stottlemyre will inform the Yankees later today whether or not he’ll continue on as Joe Torre’s pitching coach. What else? Um, it’s still hard to fathom that the Red Sox won it all…(Dig it Dog, it really happened.) Oh, here’s the latest thoughts from Derek Jacques, and Jay Jaffe. Check em out.

Em and I saw Alexander Payne’s new movie “Sideways” this weekend, which features terrific work from Virginia Madsen, Thomas Haden Church, and the lead, Paul Giamatti. It’s not a great movie, but the fact that it is uneven was kind of appealing. It’s moving and tender, not nearly as ironic or arch as Payne’s earlier work (which includes the hilarious “Election” as well as “Citizen Ruth” and “About Schmidt”). I’ve always liked Madsen. She was wonderful in an HBO movie about minor league baseball in the 1950s called “Long Gone,” and she makes the most of her supporting role here. Giamatti is solid, once again playing a dour intellectual. (There is a shot of him with is real-life father, Bart that will stand out to baseball fans.) I’d say that the movie is worth your ten bucks.


Attsa Fine

On the field Joe Girardi always struck me as combination of Yogi Berra and Chico Marx. He didn’t look as much like an ape as Berra did, but they could have been distant relatives. Far from effete, Girardi had a maternal quality about him. I’ll never forget how he pulled David Cone to the ground like a mother bear protecting her cub after the last out of Cone’s perfect game. Anyhow, it appears as if Girardi will replace Willie Randolph as Joe Torre’s bench coach. Nothing is official yet, but expect an announcement to be made one way or the other this week. Personally, I think it’s great news and the prospect of Girardi sitting next to Torre for a full season is a welcome one. The status of Mel Stot and Donnie Baseball is still uncertain. Both are believed to be haggling over money with the Yankees.

The Yankees declined Jon Lieber’s $8 million option for 2005 but are still interested in bringing the right-hander back next year.

Scanning the Sunday papers, Ken Rosenthal thinks the Bombers need to go for broke and do whatever they need to do to get Tim Hudson. Also check out Murray Chass on Curt Schilling, and the latest from Peter Gammons. It’s sunny and brilliant in New York today for the Marathon. Hope everyone has a great one.

Three Wise Men

Here is the second installment of the Season-Ending Review I started earlier this week. I was fortunate enough to get Allen Barra, Rich Lederer and Glenn Stout to share their thoughts about the Yankees and Red Sox. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend.

BB: Is it fair to say that they suddenly lost their character in the final four games of the ALCS? Was it a lack of character that lost this series or did the teams flaws finally rear its ugly head? (As Tom Verducci noted last week: “Hard to find someone who hurt the Yankees more than Tom Gordon and Kevin Brown in the ALCS. The Red Sox batted .500 against Gordon in the eighth innings of the series (7-for-14), with a double, a triple and two homers. His ERA in the eighth inning was 19.29. Brown is a broken down pitcher who has no clue how to pitch without dominating stuff and alienates himself from the rest of the team.”)
Allen Barra: It’s always possible to reflect on any lost series and pick the player show did not perform well and say that they lacked “character.” Character is one of those terms like

If I Was Any Closer to You I’d Be Behind You

Willie’s in. Could Tino be next (say it ain’t so)? Mel? We still don’t know. Not much more than gossip and rumors today, so I thought I’d offer up something completely different, a couple of epistolary nuggets from the desk of Julius Marx:

To Chico Marx

March, 1942

Dear Chico,

My Favorite Picture Producer was at our hourse for dinner the other night and each year he eats progressivley louder. The sucking of chicken bones and corn on the cob (a terrible mistake, I realize now) could be heard from miles around. Many people thought it was an air raid and began drawing the blackout curtains and dousing the lights.

We then proceeded, at his insistnt behest, to the loges of the Pantages Theater where he snored through two of the longest pictures since the beginning of the talkies.

Tune in again next week for another thrilling chapter of the little fat man with the sucking cavities.

In the meantime, always examine the dice.


From McCall’s Magazine

April 8, 1963

Dear Mr. Marx:

Could you send us a few quick notes about cars in connection with an article we are planning for summer?

…If you drive, we would like to have a list of the items you keep in your glove compartment. What “extras” do you wish glove compartments had room to hold?…and many thanks.


Bernice Conner
Senior Editor, McCall’s

April 15, 1963

Dear Miss Conner:

You ask what I keep in my glove compartment. The last time I looked I had a woman’s bikini, one half a cheese sandwcih without mustard and a letter from the finance company saying that if I don’t pay the $5,000 I own on the $5,000 car, they will take the matter into their own hands. If they do, they’ll find it pretty messy in that glove compartment.

Any further information you may want will have to come from my attorneys, Schrecklichtheit, Schrecklichtheit and Meyer.

Sincerely yours,

Groucho Marx

I think he forgot a Schrecklichtheit. Or was it Hungadunga?

Go Go to D.C.

John Viega, a Yankee fan who has lived in Washington D.C. for the last twenty years, has just launced “Washington Baseball Blog” and will be covering the Expos, or whatever they are soon to be renamed, starting…now. I’m sure there will be several sites that focus on the Washington’s new team but John’s is the first that I’m aware of. Stop by and check it out.


Welcome Back

Brooklyn’s in the House

Willie Randolph, a native of Brownsville, Brooklyn, is the new manager of the New York Mets. This makes for a good story around these parts. Randolph has always been appreciated as a quiet professional in New York, one of our own. Along with Omar Minaya, who grew up down in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Mets have two homeboys at the helm. I don’t know how talented either one will be at their jobs, but initially, the local sportswriters like both men and are giving them the benefit of the doubt. Randolph has seen it all in New York: he played for Billy Martin in the wild and crazy Bronx Zoo years, and coached for Joe Torre in the championship years of the late 90s. Randolph has been known to be diffident and sensitive with the media in the past. Obviously, that won’t work when Mike and the Mad Dog are killing him in early June.

I’m pleased for Willie–he was one of my favorite players when I was growing up–and am curious to see how things pan out for him in Queens. Be sure and check out the Mets sites that I’ve got linked to the right, to see what the National League half of the New York baseball scene have to say about the move.


Feels Just Like (Starting Over)

Is this the begining of a new day for the Red Sox or will 2004 look a lot like 1980 did for the Phillies before long? Allen Barra throws his hat into the ring with an essay on the Sox (and Yanks) in the current edition of The Villiage Voice. Check, check it out.

Swept Away

When I previewed the ALCS, “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis predicted that should the Red Sox win it all, Theo Epstein would down play the significance sabermetrics had on the team’s success. I haven’t followed Epstein’s comments closely, but I certainly haven’t noticed the mainstream media giving props to Boston’s sabermetric qualities, have you? In his column yesterday, Jim Baker, who used to assist Bill James, wrote:

In the wake of the Red Sox winning it all, there has been precious little mention of Bill James and his role in their success, even as Theo Epstein is getting plenty of credit. Why is this? As my friend Tim Walker says, “It doesn’t fit the story line.” The whole “idiots” thing is far more intriguing to the typical media outlet than the intelligence invested in piecing together the Red Sox.

This is extremely disappointing to me because it bespeaks an anti-intellectualism that permeates our culture. Yes, the players had to execute–as is always the case–but attention must be paid to the braintrust that gathered them there and did things like limiting the team to 12 sacrifice bunts. One of two things is happening: either the media doesn’t understand the extent to which James contributed, or they do and can’t bear the thought of it.

I think that the media may not understand the extent of James’ contributions. I know that I don’t know how much influence he has or doesn’t have. Clearly, sabermetrics is a valued tool by the current Boston regime. At the same time I suspect that Baker is right, many guys in the mainstream press probably can’t bear the thought of giving an outsider like James credit where credit is due.

Catch Up

Heard any good rumors yet? The Newark Star Ledger floated one the other day about the Yankees moving Jorge Posada to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Randy Johnson. Now, it’s just a rumor, but shoot, that must mean the Hot Stove League is starting to bubble. Steven Goldman, a longtime Posada advocate doesn’t think it would be a wise deal for New York:

Posada is the kind of player who should age well. He is going to strike out more and hit for less of an average, but the power should maintain and so should the walks. The other two are going to be team leaders and “great handlers of pitchers.”

The trick is to trade up, not down, and this would be a huge step down, not to mention a further dilution of the team’s identity. You could more easily replace Derek Jeter — with A-Rod, who is already here — than you can Posada, so maybe Jeter should be offered up for the Big Unit or Tim Hudson and his vanishing strikeouts. Trading Jeter for a top pitcher and signing a free agent third baseman like Adrian Beltre would leave the Yankees a stronger club than trading Posada for a lesser pitcher and signing Varitek. Why is that somehow unthinkable? Maybe it’s because the difference between perceived value and actual value with Jeter and Posada is so large.


Mel Done

According to Jack Curry in the New York Times:

Mel Stottlemyre, the pitching coach who has been at Manager Joe Torre’s side since the Yankees hired him in 1996, will not return in 2005. A person who spoke to one of Stottlemyre’s colleagues said this week that Stottlemyre would not be back for a 10th season as coach.

The Yankees will promote Neil Allen, the Class AAA Columbus pitching coach the past two seasons, to replace Stottlemyre. Not having Stottlemyre will be a major adjustment for Torre, who has basically entrusted the pitching decisions to Stottlemyre during their successful tenure together.

Woody Allen once said, “Change equals death.” But in this case, the Yanks should make out like Biggie Smalls and find out that indeed there is life after death.

Election Day Shocker

Well, how do you like that? Derek Jeter, the man some love to love while others love to hate won was awarded the first gold glove of his career today. Now I don’t hold the gold glove in high regard and I certainly don’t think that Jeter is the finest defensive short stop in the American League. My first reaction when I heard the news was laughter. Oh, how the Primates are gunna love this one, I thought. I think the first comment over at the Baseball Think Factory sums it up nicely: “This could get ugly.” You may fire when ready, Bub.

Election Day

Yankee fans, in keeping with the spirit of the day, I thought we could have some fun looking back on the 2004 season. Please cast your vote to the following questions in the comments section below:

1. Who is your favorite Yankee?

2. Which Yankee do you love to hate?

3. Who was the most valuable Yankee?

4. What was your favorite Yankee moment of the year?

5. While yer at it, what was your favorite game?

Looking forward to the results. As Michael Kay learned from an old girlfriend, “C Ya.” Peace, I gotta go.

Mecca in the Nation

Yo, you know I couldn’t just ask about the Yankees. So here’s a couple of three questions about the Red Sox while we’re at it.

Cast of Characters: (In almost alphabetical order)

Mike Carminati (Mike’s Baseball Rants)

Cliff Corcoran (Cliffís Big Red Blog)

Jay Jaffe (The Futility Infielder)

Derek Jacques (The Weblog that Derek Built)

King Kaufman (Salon.com)

Rob Neyer (ESPN)

Patrick Sullivan (The House that Dewey Built)

BB: Now that the Red Sox have won the World Serious, how will it change the culture of Red Sox Nation?

Mike Carminati: I wonder if there really is a Red Sox Nation or a collection of individuals who were acting the mob because of the rallying cry of the curse. I think that theyíll become more atomized as their one glaring issue evaporates.

Cliff Corcoran: Everything will be different. Their entire identity changes. They’re no longer pessimists, they have no reason to doubt. They’re no longer losers, they’re the defending World Champions. Long-suffering and cursed are stricken from the list of applicable adjectives. All that remains is a fervent devotion to their team and the sort of boorishness that can be found as easily in the Bronx and in Beantown. It’s over. Everything that Red Sox Nation was (other than obnoxious and devoted) is suddenly ancient history.

Jay Jaffe: In the short term, Yankee fans are going to have to listen to all of the bullshit they dropped on Sox fans’ heads directed back at them, the “1918” and “Who’s Your Daddy” chants and all that. And much of it will be deserved. What goes around, comes around. In the long term, the Sox will come to be seen as another wealthy northeastern team whose spending keeps them among the league’s elite, and whose fan base won’t be quite as endearing once the fruits of success have been tasted. You’ll see less of a bandwagon as various entities attempt to cash in on RSN chic, and somewhere along the way there will be a backlash. Which isn’t to say that the Sox won’t continue to have an intelligent, boisterous (if occasionally obnoxious) diehard fan base. The line from Spinal Tap — “Boston’s not a big college town” — has been cracking me up lately as I think of the RSN phenomenon. You’ve got a veritable factory for churning out the kind of folks that we come into contact with online all the time, and they’ll continue to maintain their presence and their connection with this team, especially over the next few years while members of the championship club remain on the roster.

Derek Jacques: We’ve already seen the bandwagon swell to bursting. I was walking through the Upper West Side during game 4 of the World Series, and you could see people crowding outside of the bars, cheering the Sox on. The fact they were standing outside showed some enthusiasm, but it also indicated that they only came out to watch the game after the sixth inning. I wonder if these guys have given their ’86 vintage Mets gear and ’98 vintage Yankees gear to the Salvation Army, or do they just keep it in the closet, collecting dust while their owners wait to see which way the wind blows next year?

King Kaufman: Completely. Not because I like to pull this obnoxious move but because I was up till all hours writing on this very subject and don’t want to get into it again, I’ll just refer you to my column and pull out this excerpt:

The Red Sox had finally done it, had finally buried the ghosts of 1918 and Babe Ruth and all those years. “We forgive Bill Buckner,” read a sign in the Busch Stadium stands. The Red Sox were champions at last.

In other words, they’re just another team now. The sackcloth and ashes are so 2003.

There’s something beautiful, almost holy, about rooting for a team that, for all the close calls, hasn’t won in so long. Any Red Sox fan will tell you that what they’ve wanted for as long as they can remember was a championship, that they’d give up anything to get one, anything.

And now that they have one, they’re just going to want another.

Rob Neyer: Biggest Myth of the Year: Winning the World Series will change Red Sox fans. Red Sox fans, or at least the great majority of them, donít waste their time thinking about the stupid curse that doesnít exist and 1918. They worry about Pedroís arm and they worry about how theyíre going to get tickets for the Yankees game next weekend. And those worries arenít going to change just because the Sox happened to win a World Series.

Patrick Sullivan: Now it’s about baseball. No inferiority complex, we can stick our chests out a little more…other team’s fans can’t mock us. My great hope is that Red Sox fans become more fans of the sport itself rather than simply being “fans” of this popular and likeable entity known as the Boston Red Sox. My feeling has always been that first and foremost you should be a fan of a sport before you are a fan of a team. There are too many Red Sox fans and not enough baseball fans in “the Nation”. But maybe now that the peripheral storylines have been wiped out, the focus will turn more to baseball.


And Say Children, What Does it all Mean?

It’s sunk in. The season is over. The winter is coming. Soon it will be very cold in New York. While part of me is depressed, another part is relieved. But I’m also excited to let my mind wander and delve into whatever part of baseball history that interests me. I’ve got at least a dozen good baseball books on my shelf waiting to be read, and a bunch more that I’m apt to peruse at any moment just for the hell of it. Which is what I did with The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers yesterday. It’s one of my favorite–if not my favorite–book by James. One bit that caught my attention was about the 1962 National League pennant race:

The Dodgers got ahead, and then they lost. In the mind of the typical sportswriter, when you get ahead youíre supposed to win. This is particularly true if you represent a media center, New York or Los Angeles, because to a large segment of the media, the story of any season is either going to be the story of how the Dodgers won, or the story of how the Dodgers lost

The Character Problem

Guest Columnist: Christopher DeRosa

Looking back at the 52 times the Yankees and Red Sox have played each other in the last two years, fans of either team may now recall profound thrills, disappointments, and pleasures. Each team beat the other in more than one emotional, fiercely contested game. One tiresome aspect of the super-sized rivalry, though, has been the way many sports media people, some fans, and a couple of players were constantly trying attribute moral superiority to whichever team had won the last game. Last yearís result insulated us from the nonsense; this yearís brings it crushing down upon our heads.
So as Yankee fans, we must endure the insults graceless winner Curt Schilling tossed at Alex Rodriguez. We must live with Bob Klapischís postmortem, in which he wrote, “

           Newer posts
feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver