"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: May 2010

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Two Fer Tooseday

Double the Fun…

Couple of Yankee-related pieces for you; Pete Botte in the News and Ben Shpigel in the Times.

[Picture by Bags]

Art of the Night

Old friends…Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud.


Sox-Rays tonight. Go Sox? Funny as it sounds, the answer is, “Yes.”

[Photo Credit: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images Europe]

Scenes from Batting Practice

The below are a collection of photographs that I took from the dugout and the field prior to Sunday night’s game between the Yankees and Mets (roll over for captions, click image to enlarge).


Taster’s Cherce

It took me almost thirty years to connect with avocados but now that I have it’s hard to remember life without them. When I was growing up, my mother would cut one in half, remove the pit, and then drizzle olive oil and red wine vinegar over them, add salt and pepper, and eat them just like that. I am game to try them in just about any way now, but I usually have them just like Ma did.

Here’s a quick rundown of avocados from Saveur.

[Photo Credit: Travelling Yogi]

Beat of the Day

Happy Birthday, Bob.

Million Dollar Movie

“Not mother?”

It’s a line that’s become part of the regular banter between my brother, sister and me. Amazing how quoting movies can influence your life, huh?

At his silliest, like in this sequence from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Steve Martin is a family favorite:

You’re Being Very Un-Dude

Sweeney Murti says it’s not time to press the panic button:

But feel free to hit that button if you think CC Sabathia won’t win again the rest of the year. Hit the button if you think Mark Teixeira will hit .209 for the season. Hit the button if you think Mariano Rivera is done. Hit the button if you think Derek Jeter is done. Hit the button if you think Toronto, Boston, Detroit, and Oakland (the only other non first-place teams currently over .500) will all be better than the Yankees over the next 118 games.

I’m not ignoring everything that’s gone on the last few weeks. I just know there were many panic-button moments last year for this team as well, but the talent was there to right the ship. The Yankees could lose at least 50 more games the rest of the way and still make the playoffs. Let’s not call 911 after every single one.

Tattoo You

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of those runaway best-sellers you see everywhere–on the street, in the subway, in airports. It was the first of three books–the third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, has just been released here in the States–by Stieg Larsson, a Swedish left-winged journalist-turned-novelist. The Millennium Triology have been an international sensation but the story behind the books may be equally as compelling. Larsson died before the books were published and his long-time companion has been in a painful fight against Larsson’s father and younger brother.

Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson’s partner, has been portrayed sympathetically in all the accounts I’ve read of the story; she doesn’t come across as the villain in Charles McGrath’s fine–and fair–piece in yesterday’s Magazine, but Larson’s father and brother are not demonized either:

The Larssons do not strike me as greedy people. They drive small, inexpensive cars and live in modest apartments, and if they wanted to change their lifestyle they would probably have to do it somewhere other than Umea, where conspicuous consumption is frowned upon. I got the impression, in fact, that Stieg’s estate was a burden, a weighty responsibility they weren’t prepared for, perhaps didn’t feel quite up to and are still trying to figure out. Joakim gave me a long explanation, which I couldn’t quite follow, of why the Swedish tax laws make it hard to give money away, and yet slowly they have begun to do so, recently donating five million kronor, or $660,000, to Expo, the magazine Stieg co-founded.

…But ultimately the dispute is really about Stieg Larsson himself, an exceptional young man, idealistic and artistic, who in classic fashion left the boondocks and made something of himself in the wider world. Who was he, really — a Norrlander or a Stockholmer? And who gets to claim him now? The emotional stakes on both sides are huge. No matter how close he was or wasn’t to his family, he was clearly a central figure to them — someone to be admired and cherished — as he was to Gabrielsson. The tragedy is that they can’t figure out a way to share him.

[Photo Credit: Lars Tunbjork for The New York Times]

Just Short . . . Again

Give the Yankees this: they’re in a team-wide slump right now, but they’re still not boring. Even in a game in which they look listless, they’re almost a sure bet to put together a late-inning rally that falls just short of the necessary number of runs to qualify as an actual comeback.

They did it again Sunday night. For the third time in his last four starts, CC Sabathia was off his game, his pitches staying up in the zone, two of them leaving the park. Sunday night it was Jason Bay who turned around, in Joe Girardi’s words, “a changeup that cut” and a sinker that was up in the zone, tripling his home run output on the season. Those two blasts, one over the 384 sign in the left-field gap, one more than 400 feet to the opposite-field gap, plated three Mets runs. Prior to Bay’s first shot, in the second inning, a single by lefty Alex Cora, a last-minute sub for the aching Luis Castillo at second base, plated the Mets’ first two runs. After Bay’s second shot in the fifth, rookie lefty Ike Davis singled and was driven in by a David Wright double.

That made it 6-0 Mets and prompted me to comment in my liveblog from the pressbox, “I’m calling another just-short late-inning rally tonight.”


Johan Santana gave up three singles in the first three innings, but only CC Sabathia, who singled to lead off the third, got past first base. From the third through the seventh, Santana retired 13 straight Yankees. Then in the seventh, the Yankees finally broke through when Nick Swisher worked a two-out walk, and Francisco Cervelli hit a ball off the top of the left-field wall, inches below the foul pole for a long single.

Down, 6-1, the Yankees loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a Mark Teixeira slump-busting single in the eighth as Santana passed 100 pitches, but Jerry Manuel brought in side-arming lefty Pedro Feliciano, who got Robinson Cano to pop out to strand all three runners.

Finally, the Yankees put an honest-to-goodness rally together in the ninth against Ryota Igarashi, a first-year Japanese import fresh off the disabled list. Another Swisher walk was followed by a Cervelli single, Kevin Russo fielder’s choice, Juan Miranda pinch-hit RBI single. That forced Manuel to go to his closer, and Derek Jeter greeted old foe Francisco Rodriguez with a big RBI double to make it 6-3. Brett Gardner followed with an RBI groundout to third, failing to get a close call, though replays showed he was out by the tiniest of margins.

Teixeira followed with a flare that dropped in front of Cora for a hit, putting the tying run on and bringing up Alex Rodriguez for a big time confrontation with K-Rod. Rodriguez battled Rodriguez for eight pitches, getting ahead 2-0, then 3-1, fouling off four pitches in the at-bat, two of them with the count full, but once again the Yankees fell short. The third 3-2 pitch in the fourth full count of the inning was a changup in the zone that dipped just below Alex Rodriguez’s swing for strike three.

Mets win the game, 6-4, and the series.

The Yankees take a travel day and head to the new ballpark in Minneapolis. Here’s hoping they don’t run out of gas in St. Paul.

I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

When this series started, I wrote that the Yankees’ problem was pitching. Since then, they’ve scored just five total runs in two games despite the successful return of Nick Swisher to the lineup and are faced with a Sunday night rubber game with Johan Santana taking the hill for the Mets. Santana’s 3.72 ERA may not look all that impressive relative to his 3.14 career mark, but it was inflated by an ugly outing in Philadelphia on May 2. Santana gave up ten runs in 3 2/3 innings in that start, but if you factor it out, his ERA in his other eight starts is a stellar 2.25. Uh-oh. In his last two starts, Santana has combined for this line: 14 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. Amazingly, the Mets lost both games by scores of 2-1 and 3-2.

We could be in for another gem like that tonight with CC Sabathia on the bump to face Santana. It’s a matchup of two of the top lefties in the game and has a nifty backstory. The Yankees, specifically Brian Cashman, refused to trade a package built around Phil Hughes for Santana prior to the 2008 season with an eye toward signing Sabathia as a free agent the following winter. Cashman’s plan worked perfectly, as Sabathia wound up pitching the Yankees to their 27th championship in 2009 with Hughes making a key contribution to that team as a reliever, then emerging as a rotation stalwart in early 2010.

As for CC, he recovered from a rocky outing in Detroit with seven strong innings against the Red Sox his last time out in a game the Yankees nonetheless lost due to the unexpected struggles of Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera. The Yankees, meanwhile, are 5-1 in rubber games this season, but haven’t played one since May 2, when they convincingly took a three-game set from the White Sox via a 12-3 rubber-game victory. Kevin Russo gets the start in left against the lefty Santana tonight, the rest of the lineup is the same as in the previous two games, save for Sabathia, of course.

The Yankees haven’t been playing great baseball of late, but a nationally televised, Sunday night rubber game against the cross-town Mets with Sabathia and Santana facing off is still must-see TV.

I’ll be at the ballpark and in the clubhouse tonight, but Alex reports that the swollen press corps for this series have jammed the CitiField bandwith, rendering our intended liveblogs of this series impossible. If I can break through, I’ll try to have some in-game updates on this post, but more likely I’ll have to save everything for my post-game recap. Stay tuned . . .

Update: Alex Cora is a last-minute replacement for Luis Castillo at second for the Mets.

Update, 6:51pm: Just back from Joe Girardi’s pre-game press conference and batting practice. I have a bunch of photos from BP to upload for you guys, meanwhile, some notes:


Feast on Our Time

Meanwhile, at the food court…

Is a Shake Shack worth waiting on line for forty minutes?

You tell me.

Saturday…In the Park…

Here’s some batting practice shots…


Graffiti Heaven

I stopped by 5 Pointz, the graffiti oasis in Queens, on my way out to Citi Field yesterday. It was incredible. Artists were busy working, a band played, couple of kids were breaking. Good vibes all round.


Revising A Miracle, Part 3: Bridge & Tunnel

Hat Design by Ben DeRosa

This is a collaborative effort of words, numbers (Chris & Jon DeRosa) and original artwork (Ben DeRosa) dedicated to the memory of Joseph DeRosa, our grandfather, who pretty much hated every personnel move his beloved New York Mets ever made.

In Parts 1 and 2, we relived the meat of the Mets championship years. We now revisit the end of the 70s, when the Mets, disco and SkyLab succumbed to the inevitable pull of gravity.

1976 – 2nd Place NL East


player avg obp slg ws
Grote c 0.272 0.350 0.365 12
Milner 1b 0.271 0.362 0.447 19
Millan 2b 0.282 0.341 0.343 16
Garrett 3b 0.223 0.359 0.311 9
Harrelson ss 0.234 0.351 0.298 13
Singleton lf 0.288 0.379 0.418 24
Otis cf 0.280 0.341 0.446 25
Jackson rf 0.283 0.358 0.513 25


pitcher ip hits bb k era Ws
Seaver 271 211 77 235 2.59 20
Ryan 271 198 188 312 3.75 17
Matlack 262 236 57 153 2.95 18
Koosman 247 205 66 200 2.69 20
Lockwood 94 62 34 108 2.67 15
Apodaca 90 71 29 45 2.81 6

Anticipation for the first ever Bridge & Tunnel Series ran high as the Mets had their best club since 1973, and Yankees were charged up under new skipper Billy Martin. Each led their divisions into September, but the while Yankees went wire-to-wire by a stride, the Mets couldn’t shake Philadelphia. Rallying behind former Mets fireman Tug McGraw, the “You Gotta Believe” Phils snuck ahead at the finish line. Cincy beat the Phils and then swept the Yanks for their second straight title. The disappointment got the best of M. Donald Grant and, believing the team needed a spark to get back to the top, replaced manager Yogi Berra with veteran third baseman Joe Torre (“Joe Who?” wondered the writers accustomed to the Mets being managed by heroes of ‘50s New York baseball scene). Shocked and hurt to be cast aside despite his successful record, Berra did not return to Shea Stadium for Old Timer’s Day for another ten years.


The Headbanger

Mike Pelfry pitched better than Phil Hughes and the Mets got key outs when they needed them most. The Yanks staged rallies in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings but they couldn’t get over the hump as the Mets survived for a 5-3 win. Yanks first three batters went hitless and the Mets fans will rule the roost on the 7 train back into Manhattan. Most frustrating, for sure.


Saturday Night (All Right)

Yanks, Mets Game Two.

Internet connection is a beaut, once again.

I took a mess o flix before and I’ll post ’em late tonight.

Meanwhile, Let’s Go Yan-Kees!

What’s In a Name?

Here’s some flicks from around the park last night.

Revising A Miracle, Part 2: The Kings of New York

This is a collaborative effort of words, numbers (Chris & Jon DeRosa) and original artwork (Ben DeRosa) dedicated to the memory of Joseph DeRosa, our grandfather, who pretty much hated every personnel move his beloved New York Mets ever made.

In Part 1: Meet the Amazins, we covered 1966-1971, the infancy of the Mets dynasty, as they consolidated their young talent and took one huge step forward, but two minor steps backwards in seek of their first world championship.

1972 1st Place NL East


player avg obp slg ws
Dyer c 0.231 0.299 0.375 16
Milner 1b 0.238 0.340 0.423 15
Boswell 2b 0.211 0.274 0.318 5
Garrett 3b 0.232 0.374 0.315 13
Harrelson ss 0.215 0.313 0.266 13
Singleton lf 0.268 0.357 0.406 18
Otis cf 0.310 0.372 0.440 22
Jackson rf 0.286 0.376 0.516 26


pitcher ip hits bb k era ws
Ryan 269 174 164 311 2.78 24
Seaver 262 215 77 249 2.92 22
Matlack 244 215 71 169 2.32 22
Gentry 164 153 75 120 4.01 4
McGraw 106 71 40 92 1.70 22
Frisella 67 63 20 46 3.34 6

Patience paid off the next year. Yogi Berra, taking over for the late and lamented Gil Hodges, committed a rotation slot to live-armed but underachieving 25-year-old right-hander Nolan Ryan. Ryan was another one of those great deals-not-made. Rumors at the time had him nearly traded to California Angels for 30-year-old shortstop Jim Fregosi. But with bats like Jackson, Otis, and Singleton’s in the outfield, the Mets decided they could take a chance on a light-hitting infield. The slumping Cleon Jones, who never really was a first baseman, lost playing time to John “The Hammer” Milner. And Ryan broke out with 17 wins and 311 strikeouts. The Mets won 98 games, defeated the talented Reds in the NLCS, and bested the Detroit Tigers in the World Series to bring New York City its first championship in a decade. Reggie was the series MVP.

1973 1st Place NL East


player avg obp slg ws
Grote c 0.256 0.290 0.316 7
Milner 1b 0.239 0.329 0.432 15
Millan 2b 0.290 0.332 0.353 20
Garrett 3b 0.256 0.348 0.403 21
Harrelson ss 0.258 0.348 0.309 13
Singleton lf 0.294 0.416 0.466 28
Otis cf 0.294 0.361 0.478 29
Jackson rf 0.306 0.398 0.554 32


pitcher ip hits bb k era ws
Ryan 308 251 171 362 3.39 28
Seaver 290 219 64 251 2.08 29
Matlack 263 234 76 156 2.84 16
Koosman 242 210 99 205 3.20 18
McGraw 119 106 55 81 3.87 10
Sadecki 117 109 41 87 3.39 7

Led by four stars they’d nearly traded and one they won in a lottery, the 1973 Mets won 105 games and their second consecutive championship. The only stumbling block to this juggernaut was the spirited fight put up by the Cincinnati Reds in the playoffs—a series made famous by Pete Rose taking out Bud Harrelson at second base in the fifth inning of Game 3, and the fight it sparked. Furious at Rose’s apparent bullying of the smaller Harrelson, Shea fans pelted the Cincy outfielder with barrage of the free Reggie Bars passed out at the gate that day. Sparky Anderson had to pull his team off the field.  Mets players begged their fans to calm down while the grounds crew quickly cleared the field of the familiar orange-and-blue-wrapped confections. The Mets and their wild fans outlasted the Reds in five games, and it was on to the World Series against the game but overmatched Oakland A’s. Reggie added another Series MVP trophy to his regular season NL MVP Award.

Of course, ‘72-73 Mets were not merely a great team. They were the great team that ran the Yankees out of New York. If the Mets had somehow let this star-studded back-to-back championship team get away from them, would George Steinbrenner have gone through with his rumored plan to renovate the original Yankee Stadium? As it was, the prospect of playing second-fiddle in Shea Stadium to the city’s #1 team was distasteful enough, and with Mayor John Lindsay wearing his Mets’ cap everywhere, the Yanks were not in a position to hold up the city for a lot of help in the Bronx. Shortly after the series, Steinbrenner announced that the Yanks would move to a state-of-the-art facility in the Meadowlands in 1976.

1974 – 1st Place NL East (tie)

player avg obp slg Ws
Grote c 0.256 0.290 0.316 5
Milner 1b 0.239 0.329 0.432 15
Millan 2b 0.290 0.332 0.353 13
Garrett 3b 0.256 0.348 0.403 16
Harrelson ss 0.258 0.348 0.309 14
Singleton lf 0.273 0.382 0.373 16
Otis cf 0.286 0.350 0.439 22
Jackson rf 0.314 0.420 0.556 30


pitcher ip hits bb K era ws
Ryan 311 235 215 343 3.50 21
Matlack 265 258 76 195 2.41 24
Koosman 265 258 85 188 3.36 17
Seaver 236 199 75 201 3.20 16
Apodaca 103 92 42 54 3.50 7
McGraw 89 96 32 54 4.16 4

The Mets seemed to be on cruise control in 1974, winning 88 games to finish in a first-place tie with Pittsburgh. They snapped into crisp form in time, however, to win the special best-of-3 playoff with the Pirates, defeat a powerful Dodger team in the NLCS and finally get their revenge on the Orioles in the World Series. The series against the Pirates, with each team wining in their last at bat at home in all three games, is known as the greatest non-postseason series of all time. The bad blood that had simmered for years of ultra-close competition boiled over as the Pirates instigated a brawl during the Mets champagne celebration. To this day, the Pirates and Mets can’t fit in a three game series without a bench-clearer. By the time the World Series rolled round, the Mets were firing on all cylinders, which many attribute to the brawl. The punchless O’s couldn’t put any rallies together against Ryan, Seaver, and Matlack’s shutdown pitching. The series sweep drew comparisons to the Orioles’ own domination of the Dodgers in ’66.

1975 – 1st Place NL East


player avg obp slg ws
Grote c 0.295 0.357 0.373 18
Torre 1b 0.247 0.317 0.357 8
Millan 2b 0.283 0.329 0.348 17
Garrett 3b 0.206 0.379 0.383 13
Phillips ss 0.256 0.300 0.326 8
Singleton lf 0.315 0.431 0.478 33
Otis cf 0.252 0.348 0.395 17
Jackson rf 0.254 0.330 0.515 27


pitcher ip hits bb k era ws
Seaver 280 217 88 243 2.38 26
Koosman 240 234 98 173 3.42 13
Matlack 229 224 58 154 3.38 12
Ryan 190 156 135 179 3.79 12
Baldwin 97 97 34 54 3.33 6
Apodaca 85 66 28 45 1.49 13

It seemed as if the Mets could just turn it on when they had to, and the team again edged their division rival Pirates in a close race with 93 wins. But winning on muscle memory wouldn’t work against Cincinnati’s retooled Big Red Machine, who swept New York from the playoffs and from their perch as the best team in baseball. Reggie gave a thoughtful, self-critical interview to Sport magazine taking all the blame for the NLCS collapse. “I’m the straw the stirs the drink,” he ruminated. “When we lose, it’s because I stirred it bad.”  Teammates and reporters praised Reggie for his leadership and he inadvertently coined his own enduring nickname: The Straw.

Coming tomorrow… The icy hand of death gropes the dynasty, but not before one last lurch at victory, in Revising a Miracle, Part 3: Bridge & Tunnel.

Win Shares from Bill James & Jim Henzler, Win Shares (2002); ersatz Met stats derived from Baseball Reference’s cool neutralized stats feature.

To see more of Ben’s artwork, check out inkstink.

Close, but Mo Cigar

Yanks 2, Mets 1

Couple of Gents watching the game from the Caesars Club at Citi Field.

“It’s so cozy and comfy in here it’s easy to forget there’s a Stadium outside,” one said to the other.

Meanwhile, Sam Borden has the latest on Javy Vazquez over at Lo-Hud…

Whadda Ya Say?

I took the 7 train out to the ball game after work today, a hot Friday in May. Walked through Grand Central, moving through the space where people were coming at me from all angles in that way that always reminds me of human Asteroids. Let a packed 7 go by and skipped the local for an Express that beat the local by plenty.

As we passed the great graffiti monument I was listening to “Fool in the Rain” on my iPod, a song I had not heard in years. And it reminded me of so many high school parties and the kind of girls who loved that song caused it moved them so. And we rolled past the graffiti when the song came to the break and goes all Brazil-Bezerk. A nice moment.

I spotted an Asian kid from across the car wearing a navy blue DiMaggio t-shirt. He had sharp shoulders and was listening to his iPod. The car thinned-out as we got closer to Citifield and I approched the guy and asked him, “Why DiMaggio?” And he said DiMaggio was only rivaled by the Babe as the most famous of the old American ball players. His name is Toshi and he is a student from Toyko, here for a few months working on his English. He’s a TV director and hopes to move to New York.

We got off the train together and joined the cattle throng of jerseys, Mets and Yankees gear everywhere. I told Toshi about New York being the melting pot but that most of the fans here were from the suburbs. We said goodnight and I checked in at the press gate and then waited on line for an elevator to take me to the press box on the fifth floor. There is a bank of two elevators but only one was operating. I waited a turn for their be enough room to get on. When I did, we packed in and a bunch of people got off on the third floor. So many new people got on that the elevator operator asked for volunteers to step off and three people got out.

It isn’t exactly quiet in the press box but it is contained and professional. There are the sounds of joshing around, especially now before the game, but it is muted. I know Matt Cerrone has never watched or blogged a game from the press box nor would it ever appeal to him. He’s too much of a fan, he doesn’t want to repress his desire to root. There are tall windows insulating the press box which makes for a stuffy atmosphere. But then the windows are opened and the sounds of the park, the crowd, filter in. The grounds crew is watering the infield, the organist is playing “Come on Feel the Noise.”

It’s fun to be here as a blogger because I am not on assignment, working on a story or deadline. Instead, it’s a game-cast, Banter-style. The good folks at SNY have encouraged me to do my thing so that’s what I’m gunna do. I figure I’ll walk around the park a whole bunch, see what I see and then dip back and give an update. Y’all will be watching the game so I don’t really need to tell you what’s happening there. Instead, I’ll try to get some of the sights n zounds and get back at you.

As Kid Gleeman likes to say, Happy Baseball.


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