"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: January 2006

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Putting the Futility in Utility

Miguel Cairo is officially back in the Bronx. But our pal Steve Goldman warns that while Cairo had a nice season for the Bombers in 2004, he isn’t necessarily the best available cherce out there:

Cairo’s .292 average in 2004 was worth just two wins over replacement. That’s not much. Nor is it evidence that playing for the Yankees makes him better, or that he can “hack it in the Bronx.” Since he crashed with the Mets, is that proof that he can make it in the Bronx but Queens is too much for him? In fact, Queens represented nothing but a return to form. Batting average fluctuates — sometimes more hits fall in than others. Since hitting for average (or a semblance thereof) is all Cairo can do, he’s going to have swings to the negative extreme of his abilities (.245, Cardinals, 2003), the positive extreme (.292, Yankees, 2004), and back again (.251, Mets, 2005). I don’t know where Cairo’s average will land this year, but looking at his career as a whole, he’s far more likely to resemble the Mets version of himself.

Ah, fer the good old days of Chicken Stanley.

Play it Again (and Again)

Hey, I forgot to tell you what happened to me at the barber shop last weekend. So I’ve been meaning to get my hair cut for more than a minute now, and as some of you know, even though I live in the Bronx, I still troop out to Brooklyn to see my old barber, Efrain Torres. I got up the energy last Saturday morning and made it to Brooklyn just after noon. The shop is run by a father and son (Ray and Macho) and my guy has a chair there too. A new woman has set up shop in the back to do stylings for the ladies, and she was all of a piece: her hair was colored dark-red/purple, and she wore about four different shades of maroon, including black slacks with red roses patterned up and down the legs.

Well, everyone was in high spirits what with New Year’s Eve being that night and all. They had some bottles of booze ready to go for later on and were already dipping into the danish cookies that were laid out. The radio was playing old salsa tunes from the 1950’s and ’60s. A trio of beefy kids around my age–early-to-mid-thirties–were hanging around waiting to get their heads cut. They were old friends of Macho’s and everyone was gas-bagging back-and-forth (they ordered Cuban sandwichs for lunch, and one of the guys, just along for the ride, made himself useful by sweeping up periodically). You know how conversation flows in the company of men. You go from rapid bursts of commentary–and in a barber shop, a good deal of bragging and boasting–to dead silence and back again.

As I was waiting my turn, I leafed through a magazine. Conversation had ceased, and everyone was either busy working or lost in their own thoughts. Suddenly, without really being aware of why, I put my magazine down and really started listening to a guitar solo on the radio that had been cooking for at least 30 seconds already. The music snapped up my attention without me being completely aware of it. The room seemed especially still, and not a moment later, Ray says, “Damn, this guy can play.” Quickly, everyone else agreed, appreciating the fine musicianship. “Yo, this dude is ill.” The rush of words from everyone was a real release. It was a small, but beautiful moment, a real guy thing. A group of guys coming together–not even consciously–by a piece of music, admiring it in silence, then breaking the tension, and clammoring about how great it was. Man, the power of music is just incredible isn’t it?

Who You Calling Ugly?

Murray Chass characterizes the Yankees as the designated “Ugly Americans” when it comes to the upcoming WBC games. In the end, more Yankees will probably participate than originally expected–Alex Rodriguez will be there when all is said and done. Still, if it were up to me, I’d be the ugliest of ’em all, and keep all the Yankees from participating, Scrooge that I am. I recognize there is a lot of National pride invovled for the players. But man, how upset will we be if one of the Bombers–or anyone else for that matter–screws up his season with an injury that stems from these games?

What’s Next?

Happy New Year, folks.

So, will the Yanks make any other significant moves before the ’06 season begins? Will they trade Carl Pavano? It seems like they are pretty well set. What do you think they might do and what do you think they should do–if anything?

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