"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: January 2011

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Minor Threat

According to reports, the Yanks have signed Freddy Garcia to a minor league deal.

Beat of the Day

Shake it, folks.

Taster's Cherce

For a dainty–and fruity–Super Bowl experience…


[Photo Credit: Tshk!]

Slouching Towards Fargo

The other day I mused offhandedly about how cool it would be to own a baseball team, and also how completely impossible. And that made me think of minor-league or independent-league team ownership, which is still kind of a possibility for mere mortals – and which, these days, has a lot more room for quirk. Given the choice between two clubs, as a general rule of thumb, you’re probably better off joining the one that doesn’t require Bud Selig’s approval.

Back in the fall I read Neal Karlen’s Slouching Towards Fargo, which is an affectionate portrait of the St. Paul Saints circa 1996 and 1997, an independent Northern League team owned in part by Bill Veeck’s son Mike (decades after his Disco Demolition Night debacle) that boasts a pig delivering baseballs to the mound, a nun in the stands  offering massages, appearances by part-owner Bill Murray, sumo-wrestling contests for opposing managers between innings, and much more. “Fun Is Good,” is the Saints’ motto, and it’s refreshing to watch a team that doesn’t take itself too seriously. (Bless the Yankees, but you know it would do them good to lighten up once in a while). Daryl Strawberry, who redeemed himself with the Saints shortly before joining the Yankees and salvaging his career, serves as something of a focal point in the book, representing the Saints’ function as a haven of second- and third-chances for baseball types and locals; there are also draft holdouts, washups, career minor leaguers and female pitcher Ila Borders. The Saints have room for just about everyone.

Author Neal Karlen also tries to tell the story of his own sort of redemption, as he was initially sent to Saint Paul by Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner to dig up mud and write a story eviscerating Bill Murray and Strawberry. But there’s little suspense or originality in the story of how he ultimately grows a conscience once away from the big city. This part of the book was less successful, for me – partly because Karlen’s writing (and, to be fair, editing – the book is very unevenly paced) is not up to the standards of his material, and partly because his view of cynical and immoral New York City media types vs. big-hearted Midwesterners struck me as overly pat. He frequently brings up petty grudges against other writers or media-world denizens, and he’s too on-the-nose when writing about how baseball and the Saints will heal us all; it’s a theme that would have benefited from subtlety. Still, Karlen does a good job of chronicling the fascinating collection of individuals who cluster around the Saints, a haven for nonconformists, and whatever his flaws as a writer, they don’t prevent the charm of the team itself from coming through loud and clear.

Million Dollar Movie

“Hopscotch” is an appealing but lousy movie. It looks like pea soup, the script is dull, and the acting is forgettable (I’m talking to you, Ned Beatty). But I’m a sucker for Matthau and Glenda Jackson so I sat through the whole thing, curled up on the couch with my wife over the weekend. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter that a movie is bad. If you are cozy with the Mrs watching Matthau humming Mozart, sipping beers, being Matthau, things could be a lot worse.

Cause for Concern…

According to Premier, Kool Herc, one of Hip Hop’s founding fathers, is seriously ill (here is an update on the story).

Our thoughts go out to Herc and his family.

Too Cool For School

This site is just too cool.

Thanks to the Duck Dog for pointing out the facts.

I’m lovin it like Michael Kay loves his Mickey D’s.

[Pictures: Sophia Loren, Lenny Bruce, Zero Mostel and Julie Christie]


Jeb Stewart–known around these parts as “Evil Empire”–penned this cool piece about the legendary Rickwood Field.


[Photo Credit: Mike Moody]

Cool Teez

From our man in Japan, dig these cherce Blue Note t-shirts.

New York Minute

One of the benefits of living up in the Bronx is that I always get a seat on my way to work. By the time we reach Washington Heights, the train is packed. Today, it was crowded and a few people in my car were short-tempered. Nothing dramatic, just cranky on a Monday morning, negotiating space. I looked up and took it all in and thought, It’s amazing that more fights don’t break out. But the social contract holds together–most of the time.

Sometimes I wonder what life must be like away from so many people? Would it be peaceful and a relief? Or would I miss the agitation, conflict, and the pleasure of meeting a stranger’s eye and smiling ever so slightly?

Sunday Night Fun

What? The Pro Bowl ain’t good enough for you? The SAG awards isn’t doin’ the trick? How about chillin’ with some pals?

[Picture by Bags]

Bring that Beet Back

Eh? Why not?

[Photo Credit: Food 52]

Ran a Comb Across my Hea

Sunday morning wake-up from…Billy Joel? Yep, go figure.

Dig Dug

Lazy Saturday in the Boogie Down. Sunny but chilly. Think warm thoughts…Derek Jeter is working hard down in Florida.

Also, check out this interview with Brian Cashman at The Trentonian:

JN: With Russell Martin coming on board, is that an indicator that Montero will probably start the year back at Scranton?

BC: It’s an indicator of who’s going to be the starting catcher. It’s going to be Russell Martin, period. Then after that, the back-up situation’s going to be open for discussion between Cervelli, Montero, Romine, we’ll see. Or all of them. … They all could split time and get a little education in the process.

JN: With Montero, obviously the questions are with his defense. I know the Yankees believe he can catch right now. How far does the organization believe he has to go before its certain he can catch long-term.

BC: We believe he can catch, and we believe he can catch long-term.

JN: What are you and the organization seeing, then, that perhaps other organizations are missing when it comes to Montero’s defensive abilities?

BC: He’s come a long way. The defensive side is something he’s had to work on a long time. I’d liken it separately to a guy like Wade Boggs, who came through the farm system of the Red Sox, always hit, but people said he can’t play defense. He ultimately turned himself into a perennial Gold Glove-winning third baseman. Hard work can close the gap on deficiencies. Derek Jeter made 56 errors in the South Atlantic League. … The minor leagues is (where you) work out your problems, and he’s certainly closing the gap. He’s not there yet, but he’s pretty damn close. We believe he’s better than some starting catchers, defensively, in the big leagues right now.

[Picture by Bags]

Now We're Alone at Last…

Been a fun week, folks. Hope you guys have a great weekend.

Mets Minority Partner Madness

Remember when there were all those rumors swirling about how much money the Mets had invested with Bernie Madoff, and how that could impact their ability to run the team? And the Wilpons kept saying, nope, it would have no effect at all? Well, today they issued a statement:

As Sterling Equities announced in December, we are engaged in discussions to settle a lawsuit brought against us and other Sterling partners and members ofour families by the Trustee in the Madoff bankruptcy. We are not permitted to comment on these confidential negotiations while they are ongoing.

However, to address the air of uncertainty created by this lawsuit, and to provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win, we are looking at a number ofpotential options including the addition of one or more strategic partners. To explore this, we have retained Steve Greenberg, a Managing Director at Allen & Company, as our advisor.

Regardless of the outcome of this exploration, Sterling will remain the principal ownership group of the Mets and continue to control and manage the team’s operations. The Mets have been a major part of our families for more than 30 years and that is not going to change.

As Craig at Hardball Talk notes, this is pretty similar to what Tom Hicks said about his Rangers back in the day – and things didn’t quite work out the way he’d planned. Can the Mets find someone who’ll be willing to invest significant amounts of money without gaining any control? If not, would they consider selling the team outright, if they got the right offer?

Depending, of course, on who they might theoretically sell the team to, it could actually end up being a good thing for the Mets – the team has had certain issues over the years, with organization and finance and general PR, that have persisted regardless of who the GM or manager was. But in the short term, it’s not good news – it’s very hard for an organization to make bold moves, or to spend much money, when ownership is uncertain.

Start saving your money, gang! If we all put in $100…

Actually, I’ve had a longstanding fantasy about what I would do if I owned a baseball team. Note that even if I were to win the lottery, I STILL wouldn’t be able to afford to do that, but we’re just daydreaming here. I’d move a team to Brooklyn, where the Nets’ new eyesore of a Stadium is going (as long as we’re fantasizing), and keep ticket prices low, and have weird funny Bill Veeck-like promotions and giveaways, and sell lots of women’s team gear that wasn’t pink or sparkly, and hire as many knuckleballers and players with amusing names as possible, and…

Sorry, I got distracted. Point is, things will likely be pretty challenging in Flushing for the next few years.

Photo via Real Clear Sports

New York Minute

Last night on the uptown IRT, packed train, rush hour. As we approach 181st Street, the conductor says, “I would advise the passenger who is smoking to get off at the next station. The authorities have been notified.”

I’ve seen people smoke on the train before, kids used to love smoking blunts in the last car back when. Mostly, anyone who smokes on the subway is furious or crazy or both. But to do it on a crowded train? That takes chutzpah.

[Photo Credit: John F. Conn]

Beat of the Day

Bowie Friday…

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