"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


Yeah, so we’re under a mound of snow here in New York this morning, but Mother Nature can’t fool us, there’s still only a couple of days left ’til pitchers and catchers. Dump all the snow you want on us you old bag, spring is a-coming.

Two days ago, Emily and I were downtown and we grabbed a bite at an old greasy spoon restaurant on 6th avenue and 12 or 13th street (I forget which). It’s a coffee shop on the corner of the street and what makes it stand out is simply the fact that it is still standing. In a neighborhood that is changing all the time it is a comforting to see an old place like that holding its own. They don’t sell $15 eggs, they sell it for $2.50. Students, professors, doctors and rent-stablized old timers make up the crowd, and you can tell some folks come in several times a day. It’s a real neighborhood place.

After we picked our way through a lousy lunch I chatted up the guy running the place, a 26-year old Greek kid named Chris. His old man opened the shop back in the mid-1970s. I started talking to him because he was wearing a Yankee cap. We bs’d some about the team–I asked him who is favorite players were, and DJ was at the top of the list. When I brought up Alex Rodriguez he told me how much he hated him, and we proceeded to get into the well-worn Alex Rodiguez debate.

“All that money he’s taking from them, bro, and the guy can’t get a hit in the ninth inning.”

I told him he was being too hard on Rodriguez and then listed all of A-Rod’s accomplishments–from his home run records, to his playoff performances, all to no avail. Finally, as the conversation was clearly going nowhere, Emily said, “Enough, let’s go.”

Fair enough. Chris was a nice guy, but it never fails to amaze me how some fans cling to their impressions regardless of the facts. Which is not to say that I think my opinions are the end all be all, but I try to balance my emotional reactions with reality.

Anyhow, I was reminded of “I Know Best” mentality that fans–including myself–often have last night as I was leafing through an old Sports Illustrated magazine (October 7, 1974–Catfish Hunter on the cover). In the “They Said It” quote section toward the front of the issue, I found this bit:

Danny Murtaugh, Pittsburgh Pirates manager: “Why, certainly I’d like to have a fellow who hits a home run every time at bat, who strikes out every opposing batter when he’s pitching and who is always thinking about two innings ahead. The only trouble is to get him to put down his cup of beer, come down out of the stands and do those things.”

The snow is coming down so hard here in the Bronx that I can’t even see clear down to the subway. But my mind is on green fields and warm climates, guys stretching and smiling, shagging fly balls, taking grounders, grabbing their crotches, spitting, and their turn in the cage. It seems like a pipe dream given the conditions up here, but in reality, it’s only moments away.

Meanwhile, I’m going to make something delicious to eat and Em and I are going to watch “The Godfather II.” Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

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