"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

SHADOW GAMES: Nobody Asked Me Either, But…

I lean on Red Smith’s words like the counter at the Crown Diner and the bar at Ballpark Lanes and baseball all the time.

“Over the years people have asked, ‘Isn’t it dull covering baseball every day?’ My answer: ‘It becomes dull only to dull minds.’ If you have the perception and the interest to see it, and the wit to express it, your story is always different from yesterday’s story.”

Those are the baseball-writing basics from one of the greats.

Everything starts with the basics. Pitchers locate the fastball and hitters drive the ball back up the middle. Newspapermen usually lean against the bar and deal with it all tomorrow.

Smith used to share the pages of the old New York World Journal Tribune with Jimmy Cannon.

Cannon was also one of the greats, but is probably best known for his often imitated one-liner columns titled: Nobody Asked Me, But…

I loved the style as a young reporter and used to carry a collection of Cannon’s columns around with me like a crutch. An old newspaper editor encouraged me to swipe the idea.

“You had better learn how to steal if you’re gonna make it in this business,” the editor said. “There are only so many good ideas out there and the smart guys usually get ‘em first.”

Cannon was one of the smart guys so I grabbed his idea and ran. I have pounded out many of these columns in past lives, but now I’m just another old righty taking the mound to see if I’ve got anything left on my fastball.

Nobody asked me either, but…

I hope Jason Giambi gets a good deal to play ball somewhere, but I don’t want it to be in the American League East. I would hate to pull against the Big G.

I’m at every Yankees home game and I watch every road game on television.

I know that’s not normal.

I realize I’m crazy, which means I’m not crazy. I think.

It’s really insane to score every game, but I do it anyway.

I’ve had good ideas: Blogging about baseball.

And bad ideas: Becoming an art student through the mail.

I bleed Yankees blue and will defend my team and everyone on it until my last breath.

I believe Derek Jeter is the most important man in this city.

I also believe Alex Rodriguez will lead this team through October.

And that Mariano Rivera will get the final out of a glorious baseball season.

I know that Jorge Posada is the toughest man in the world.

I have faith that Andy Pettitte and Bobby Abreu will be Yankees on Opening Day.

I believe Robinson Cano is going to have the biggest comeback season of all time.

And that Hideki Matsui will bounce back strong, too.

This will be Joba Chamberlain’s year.

But Chien-Ming Wang will win the American League Cy Young Award.

It’s impossible not to love Johnny Damon.

Phil Hughes is going to pitch a lot of big games in the Bronx.

Humberto Sanchez is already a big star in the Bronx and now everyone else will get a good look at him.

I certainly wish Mike Mussina well, but I have no idea how anyone can walk away from baseball while they can still play.

I like the World Baseball Classic, but I want to love it.

If I could pick one ballplayer – living or dead – to have dinner with it would certainly be Josh Gibson.

I’m proud to be on the staff here at Alex Belth’s Bronx Banter. But I think the blog might get more readers if it was called Derek Jeter’s Bronx Banter.

Pitchers and catchers report in 71 days. I’ll be leaning against the bar until then.

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1 Joe L.   ~  Dec 5, 2008 12:32 pm

Every single game? You really are crazy.

2 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 5, 2008 12:43 pm

Joe L.,
Yes, I know. I’d rather call it committed though.

3 thelarmis   ~  Dec 5, 2008 2:08 pm

todd, i loved the slant of this thread!

i laughed aloud at the "art degree thru the mail" bit - that was hysterical! when i was auditioning for colleges, one of the school's didn't want an in-person audition, but a tape of me playing. i thought that was quite strange!

i, too, want andy & bobby in pinstripes next season...

i love your optimism...

there's an old saying in music: "good musicians borrow, great musicians steal"!!!

4 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 5, 2008 3:26 pm

Couldn’t you have sent a tape of anyone? “Here’s my tape and don’t forget that I look and sound a little like Roy Haynes when I play the drums.”

5 thelarmis   ~  Dec 5, 2008 4:10 pm

[4] exactly. i know, it just didn't make sense. of course, if one did that, it'd quickly catch up when school started and there's nowhere to hide!

this was more "legit" stuff, so it was mostly tympani, marimba & snare drum - not much drumkit, unfortunately...

i ended up at the right school for me, so that's cool. i have a couple of war stories from auditions i went on though...

roy haynes, is the last remaining living legend of that era/style. louie bellson, is still around for big band. not enough folks realize that he invented double bass drumming and it began in big band era jazz, not crazy progressive, technical, death metal!

6 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 5, 2008 4:32 pm

"And bad ideas: Becoming an art student through the mail."

Ha!! Was that Art Instruction Schools, Inc? I'd actually considered that since I was a kid, but I did have a creeping notion that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be (side note: Charles "Sparky" Schultz not only participated as a child, but later became an instructor!)

7 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 5, 2008 5:37 pm

Chyll Will,
Yeah, Art Instruction Schools, Inc. My wife reminds me of them every time I come up with one of my “great ideas.”

8 LAJ   ~  Dec 6, 2008 4:17 am

Todd, I've been coming to Bronx Banter for 2 years now. It is my favorite Site on the entire www; it has only gotten better w/the recent changes/additions. But I've never registered to comment (on either) until now as I'm compelled to tell you how much I loved this post. I just had to tell you that. Great talent.

9 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 6, 2008 8:44 am

I’m glad you liked it. I love Cannon’s style as much today as I did when I was a kid. And I’m going to keep using it because I stole it fair and square.

10 Joe L.   ~  Dec 6, 2008 4:10 pm

This story is fun to read so I keep coming back to read it again. I am looking forward to the next Nobody Asked But.

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