"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: June 2010

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Let’s Try That Again

Facing Cliff Lee wasn’t much fun for anyone other than Nick Swisher last night. Facing Felix Hernandez doesn’t seem likely to be much more pleasant. In his last three starts, King Felix has posted this line:

26 2/3 IP*, 14 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 26 K, 1 HR, 1.69 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 8.67 K/BB

*That’s one out shy of three complete games, in case you didn’t notice, but only one of those starts turned into a complete game as the Mariners lost his last 3-2 in 13 innings.

Four starts ago, Felix got lit up by the red-hot Rangers, but his two starts before that both saw him go eight innings and allow just one run (with 16 total Ks), and in his last nine starts he’s posted a 2.62 ERA and allowed just three home runs. Of course, the Mariners have gone 3-6 in those nine games thanks to either poor bullpen support, poor run support, or both.

Javier Vazquez wasn’t sharp his last time out against his old team in Arizona, but in his four starts prior to that he posted a 2.25 ERA and 0.79 WHIP, lasting exactly seven innings each time out, his only loss coming when the Yankee bats got shutout by Hisanori Takahashi and company. Dating back to May 12, he’s 5-3 with a 3.12 ERA, and 0.98 WHIP in eight starts and one relief appearance.

Brett Gardner remains out of the lineup but is available to pinch-run and play defense. Colin Curtis starts in left and bats eighth. The rest of the lineup is the same as last night’s.

Afternoon Art

Andre Franquin

Million Dollar Movie

Ever been livid watching a movie? I’m such a prig there is no shortage of movies that have gotten my red ass going, especially during my high school and college years (When Harry Met Sally, Thelma and Louise, Born on the 4th of July, and The Crying Game come to mind). But the first time I was angry watching a movie came much earlier, when I was ten-years old an my mom took me to see Chariots of Fire. God, that theme song, which was played on the radio for the longest, never failed to angry up the blood:

So: movie fury. Whadda ya hear, whadda say?

Beat of the Day

Time for some “happy rap.”

This song never fails to put a spring in my step, as it did this morning on my way to work. Who cares if Greg Nice doesn’t know what instrument Dizzy played.

Taster’s Cherce

Over at the New York Times, Harold Mcgee writes that the secret to ribs is already in the kitchen: the oven. Peep, don’t sleep. And here are some more ideas for the grill

[Photo Credit: A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen]

Word to God

There is an exhaustive, though ultimately not especially rewarding profile of Mariano Rivera by James Traub in the New York Times Magazine. Perhaps we’re the wrong audience for this story. Closer to the point, I don’t think Mariano is an interesting subject for a magazine piece. He’s dull, in fact, too guarded to reveal anything about his personal life.  How does a savant articulate his gift? Shrugs his shoulders and says he’s doing the Lord’s work.

Writers are left to wax poetic over Mo’s on-the-field accomplishments, his style, his calm, his greatness, his influence around the clubhouse. A writer can talk to players around the league, add some quotes about just how good Mariano is, but otherwise, what is there to say?

So this story is thorough but it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know about Rivera, and some of Traub’s characterizations are off-base: Kevin Youkilis is a described as a “batting genius” while Jonathan Paplebon is called “the closer who has become Rivera’s great rival.” Youkilis is a great hitter, but a genius? And if Rivera and Paplebon have a rivalry that’s news to me (they just happen to play for rival  teams).

It’s worth checking out, and I rarely tire of reading about Mo, but considering the author and the publication, I was disappointed.

However, the Times does have a cool video piece on Mo that is well-worth looking at.

[Photo Credit: National Geographic]

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Here’s Pat Jordan at his best. A first-person essay on his relationship with his brother:

My brother doesn’t know where I live. He doesn’t know who my friends are. He doesn’t know I have two new puppies. He doesn’t know I am talking again to my daughter after 20 years. He doesn’t know if Susan is still well and free from cancer. He doesn’t know if I am well or sick, working or not, vigorous or an old man. I know nothing about him either. I have not talked to him in three years. I have not seen him in five. I have seen him only three times in the last 12 years, at my house in Florida in 2000, at our mother’s funeral in 2002, and at my father’s funeral in 2005. He doesn’t know what I look like now, at 69, whether I have gained or lost weight, whether I have lost my hair like Dad, or still have it like him. But I know what he looks like because he has never aged. He looked old when he was young, but when he got old he looked the same. He’s 83 now. With short hair like Brillo, a long horsey face, and small eyes (his friends called him “Moose”). A tall, sturdily built man with a vise-like handshake that made me wince, his reminder that he would always be stronger than me, like a solid oak unbending in the wind, while I would always be a sapling whipped by the wind until uprooted.

At my mother’s funeral in 2002, my father, my brother, and I greeted mourners in the back of the church in our hometown of Fairfield, Conn. My brother, 6’4″, wore his Ivy League suit from J. Press Clothiers in New Haven, and his wing-tipped cordovan shoes, as sturdy as Dutch clogs. My father, 5’6″, at 92, wore his navy blazer with brass buttons and his regimentally striped tie. I, 6’1″, wore my black leather sport jacket, jeans, and work boots. I had long gray hair and a white beard. My father looked at me and said, “You look like a bum.” My brother said, “Leave the kid alone, Dad. He came all this way.” My brother always defended me to my father. That’s why he always called me “the kid.” It was a sign of affection. To him, I would always be “the kid”; it was his way of excusing my behavior among adults. And whether my brother realized it or not, it was a way to diminish me. Which was the problem, one of them anyway, which is also why, at 69, I have reconciled myself to the possibility that I will never see my brother again.

Bronx Rules

Karma bites, don’t she?

Deadspin’s got the clip.

Cliff Lee Rules

Coming into last night’s start, Cliff Lee was 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA over his last six starts, half of which were complete games. In that span, he had struck out 44 men against just three walks and three homers. Given that Lee had dominated the Yankees the last time he came to the Bronx, there wasn’t much reason for optimism heading into Tuesday night’s series-opening tilt against Lee and the Mariners, I don’t care how pathetic the Mariners’ offense has been this season.

That Phil Hughes lacked his good stuff pitching on extra rest after being skipped the last time through the rotation sealed the deal. Hughes fastball topped out around 91 miles per hour and his location wasn’t sharp. As a result, the Mariners were able to build a picket fence against him with runs in the second, third, fourth, and fifth, before delivering the finishing blow with a three-run sixth as Hughes seemed to lose it around 90 pitches. Boone Logan and Chan Ho Park held the line from there, but when the line is a 7-1 deficit against Cliff Lee and the opposing offense is the worst in the American League, who cares?

Through the first eight innings, all the Yankees managed against Lee was a pair of solo homers by Nick Swisher. Hitting a pair of right-handed home runs off a pitcher who had allowed just three dingers in his last six starts isn’t impressive, particularly when those were just Swisher’s second and third right-handed home runs of the year, but the rest of the offense didn’t show up until the ninth.

Just one other Yankee made it as far as second base in the first eight innings (Jorge Posada following a one-out walk in the second, the only walk Lee has issued in his last five starts), and no more than one Yankee reached base in any of the first eight innings of the game. Swisher’s two home runs came in the first and the sixth, and after the second, Lee retired the next nine men he faced until Mark Teixeira led off the ninth with a double down the left-field line. A Robinson Cano single, Michael Saunders throwing error, and Posada ground-rule double got the Yankees to within 7-4, but it took Lee just three more pitches to retire Curtis Granderson (who did have a pair of singles earlier in the game and was the only Yankee other than Swisher with a multi-hit night) and Chad Huffman (who started for the injured Brett Gardner) to nail down his third-straight complete game victory.

While Hughes season-worst outing was somewhat reminiscent of Joba Chamberlain’s struggles after the Yankees started skipping his starts last year, Hughes didn’t blame the rest for his poor performance, and he didn’t really get lit up until the sixth. He’ll stay on-turn until the All-Star break as the Yankees have no off-days in the next two weeks. His next start comes on Sunday at home against the Blue Jays. Meanwhile, here’s hoping Cliff Lee gets traded back to the National League, just don’t get your hopes up about him coming to the Bronx, the Yankees made clear their unwillingness to trade prospects for a pending big-money free agent such as Lee by letting CC Sabathia go to the Brewers and Johan Santana go to the Mets.

In other news, Dave Eiland returned to the team and Gardner could be out for a few days with a wrist contusion after being hit by a Clayton Kershaw pitch on Sunday. Meanwhile, Marcus Thames is expected to start at designated hitter for Triple-A Scranton on Wednesday, meaning he could be activated from the disabled list soon.

2010 Seattle Mariners

Okay, so I just wrote one of the longest previews I’ve ever written getting some stuff off my chest that’s been there since November and shoved aside some other important work to do it. But it all got erased. So while I try not to lose my mind, here’s the roster of the Mariners, who have scored just 3.4 runs per game this year, but are running out one of the league’s best pitchers tonight.


Afternoon Art

Hugo Pratt


Million Dollar Movie

What makes the Hottentot so hot? …Courage, y’all, courage…


As Bugs Bunny would say…”Gasp.”

Gun Smoke

According to a piece at Bloomberg.com, Strikeouts Show Pitchers Outdo Hitters Like No Time Since 1968. The first line of the story, written by Mason Levinson, goes, “The end of Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drugs era is causing 1960s flashbacks.”  

I haven’t read too much on this subject but casually, I’ve heard this line of thinking before–the spike in pitching has something to do with the “end” of the PED era. My question is:  Weren’t pitchers taking PEDs as well?

Whadda ya think?

[Photo Credit: SI]

Taster’s Cherce

Yes, please.

Banana Pudding Ice Cream recipe from Homesick Texan, the most inviting sounding website I’ve heard in a New York minute…

Beat of the Day

Times two…

The Long View

Over at the NY Post, Brian Costello writes about Phil Hughes’ innings limits:

“We are being smart about this guy,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We want him to be in our rotation for a long time. We believe he is a top-end starter and it’s our job to make sure we don’t overuse him.”

Hughes goes against Cliff Lee tonight at the Stadium. That should be a treat.

[Photo Credit: NY Daily News]

The Art of Looking

A few weeks ago I got together with Bags, whose photographs have graced this space for more than a month now.

Bags takes pictures the old fashioned way. He uses film. Taking photographs is an excuse for him to tool around the city and look, really look at what’s around him (Bags isn’t from New York and I wonder if it takes an outsider’s sensibility to really appreciate the wonders, small and large, that our town has to offer.)

I haven’t used film in years and what I like about it is that it forces you to be selective. You can’t just snap away like you can with a digital camera, not caring how many shots you take. You have to look, carefully, before you decide to press “click.” Also, you may just miss a shot–you get the composition right, but then the classic old guy walks through the frame too quickly and you’ve lost the moment you want to capture. The possibility of this loss, makes it all the more exciting when you do get what you’re looking for.

And then there is the suspense of waiting for your pictures to come back from the lab. Oh, the agony. My feeling is that if you can get one good, I mean really good shot out of a role of 36 you should be pleased.

Anyhow, Bags and I tooled around the Upper West Side–a neighborhood he doesn’t know from–and snapped away. I haven’t gone to the lab yet, but this weekend I’m going to take more shots and then see what I’ve got. In the meantime, I’ve found myself, even without a camera in my napsack, stopping and looking. And for that alone, I am grateful.

What Your Life Can Truly Be

The Yanks have the night off, but MLB’s new shining star, Stephen Strasburg is on the hill tonight and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

Here’s an open thread for whatever you find clever…

[Photo Credit: Darrellh200]

Afternoon Art

Sticking with comic book artists again this week, let’s go spanning the globe.

First, up, the legendary Herge:

Million Dollar Movie

Since it is hotter n July today, why not check out a scene from this classic NYC summer flick:

I remember seeing this on opening day near Times Square (my friends and I were the only white kids is the audience). I’ll never forget how we were introduced to Rosie Perez, shadow-boxing of sorts over P.E. Man, the movie, and that theater were charged–hyped, as they used to say.

I don’t think Do the Right Thing is a great movie, but it’s as close as Spike has gotten and I think it is his best, even though it is deeply flawed. It is funny as hell, Ernest Dickerson’s photography is weird and evocative, and Spike really captured a moment in time. When this movie dropped, he was hottest thing in town.

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