"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: April 2011

Older posts            Newer posts

Beat of the Day

Listen to this…

[Picture by Hugues Erre]

Afternoon Art

Great Comic Book Covers Week…

Inspiration (and covers provided) by 1979 Semi-Finalist.

Bobbing For Gossip

Yesterday we got our first looks at Ian O’Connor’s new Derek Jeter book, “The Captain,” with promises of dirt and controversy. And, in turn, we got our first backlash and criticism of the book from fans who dislike this kind of rumor-mongering coverage of Jeter – who may be playing like an Eduardo Nunez with less range but is still, dammit, Derek Jeter.

The Post (of course) trumpets the book as “a soap-opera saga filled with power and betrayal.” Dun dun DUN! But when you look at what the book actually contains, that seems to be overstating things a bit. Here’s what the Post followed that up with:

Jeter’s unyielding insistence on loyalty and his dislike for A-Rod during the third baseman’s early years in pinstripes was so legendary that one Yankees official admitted he was too scared to talk to Jeter about making amends with his teammate.

“It would’ve been the last conversation I ever had with Derek,” the official said. “I would’ve been dead to him. It would’ve been like approaching Joe DiMaggio to talk to him about Marilyn Monroe.”

Don Mattingly, then the hitting coach and former captain, tried to intervene, citing his own unfriendly history with teammate Wade Boggs.

“I faked it with Boggs,” he told Jeter. “And you have to fake it with Alex.”

So…Alex Rodriguez really annoyed Derek Jeter? No kidding. (I am way more interested in this Mattingly-Boggs feud. Tell us more, Donnie!) I admit to finding the above quote somewhat interesting just because I’m always curious to know how players talk to each other when there aren’t ESPN cameras and reporters nearby. But I also recognize that all of this is massively silly. These are grown professionals, not middle schoolers in the cafeteria. Who really cares whether Jeter and A-Rod like each other? Does anyone think that was a bigger issue for the Yankees than, say, pitching? There’s more:

“If you do something to hurt [Jeter], that’s it, you’re done,” Mike Borzello, a bullpen catcher close with Jeter, told the author. “You had your chance.”

Jeter got a measure of revenge at the 2001 All-Star Game, when a smitten Rodriguez introduced him to Latin songstress Joy Enriquez. Jeter wasted no time — the singer and the shortstop began dating.

I think this is abut as close to scandal as we’re getting here, and it hardly qualifies. But I did actually find this bit kind of interesting as a look into clubhouse dynamics:

In the 2008 off-season, Cashman set his sights on signing prized free agent CC Sabathia, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Cy Young Award winner.

“CC’s main concern was our clubhouse, and how people got along,” Cashman told the author. “I told him the truth. ‘Yeah, we are broken. One reason we’re committing [$161 million] to you is you’re a team builder. We need somebody to bring us together.’ ”

The Yankees ponied up extra cash — the most expensive contract for a pitcher to date — to bring the clubhouse Band-Aid to the roster.

Meanwhile, time — and most importantly wins — softened the rift between the two players.

“Derek understands Alex’s positives and negatives,” said Buck Showalter, who managed both Jeter and Rodriguez early in their careers. “He’s come to understand the way Alex is.”

Oh sure, credit time and wins if you want to… Is there nothing C.C. Sabathia can’t do? Can we send him to the middle east?

Anyway, it seems like this book will be a font of fresh details, but it doesn’t appear to describe any big events or ideas that we didn’t already know about. There’s also apparently a significant amount in here about Jeter’s most recent contract negotiations – ESPN NY has some of those details –  but, again, while it sounds like a detailed account it’s also mostly what we’d already inferred from the winter coverage. I don’t think I’ve ever met O’Connor; he’s been around for a long time and has very good sources, as well as a talent for stirring things up. I remember a few years ago (I can’t seem to find the article – anyone remember when it was?) he drew some criticism for tracking down and interviewing Steinbrenner at his house, at a time when the Yankees owner was maybe no longer sharp mentally and not talking to the press. I think that was defensible, in that Steinbrenner was still the team’s owner, officially, and as such a public figure; at the same time, I can’t say it wasn’t uncomfortable to read. That’s hardly an issue here, though – Derek Jeter can take care of himself and is a perfectly valid target for a juicy book.

In fact, for all the people who are already criticizing the book – while Jeter wants to make sure people know that he’s not officially affiliated with it, he did talk to O’Connor for it, and allowed many of his friends and coworkers to do the same. Guys like Mike Borzello, quoted above, aren’t about to agree to an interview with O’Connor without checking with Jeter first. Technically it’s “unauthorized,” but Jeter clearly cooperated to a certain extent, so presumably he at least got the chance to explain his side of things.

Without having read it I can’t say anything for certain, but from the information at hand, I don’t think it’s the sordid mud-flinging that people seem to be expecting. Maybe a little embarrassing, sure. But fans’ views of Derek Jeter this year will be influenced by how, or if, he hits, much more than by any tidbits in “The Captain.”

Taster's Cherce II

Mole Poblano. Friend or foe?

Taster's Cherce

Now dig this:

Duane Keiser’s Peel.

Well Blow Me Down

Bronx Banter Book Excerpt

Memory Lane: A Truly Blown Save

By Charley Rosen

Here’s the testimony of a onetime Yankee starting pitcher who wishes to remain anonymous:

“I’d pitched on Friday night and I’d partied with all my heart after my complete-game win. I was still hungover and feeling pretty blotto by the time I reported to the Stadium for Saturday’s afternoon game. So I hid from the skipper in the trainer’s room as long as I could, gulping down as many cups of black coffee as my already queasy stomach could take. Still, my eyes were bloodshot, my skin had a yellowish tinge, I felt like someone had driven a spike into my forehead, and it seemed that I was perpetually in danger of tossing my cookies. If the skipper saw me in this condition, his hard stare would be enough for me to vomit on his shoes. So, after cringing in the trainer’s room for about five innings, and squatting on the porcelain throne for two more, I decided to hide out in the bullpen.

“Now one of the team’s veteran relievers had a hard-on for the skipper, but only because he thought the skipper had a hard-on for him. It seems that the pitcher, let’s call him Joe, had one or two top-notch years coming out of the Yankees bullpen and racking up a modest but impressive amount of saves. But as Joe’s slider began to lose its bite, he was only being used in mop-up situations.

“Joe would sit in the bullpen and bitch about how he was being denied the chance to make the money he deserved. ‘Wins and saves,’ he’d say. ‘That’s what pays the big bucks. And here I am wasting the best years of my career only working in blowouts.’

“Anyway, on this particular afternoon, our best reliever had a sore arm, and two other guys had pitched long innings on Thursday night. The only other available relievers were Joe and some raw rookie who couldn’t be trusted to wipe his ass after he took a crap. Meanwhile, our starter was in trouble every inning. Walking guys, hitting two or three, giving up line-drive hits, but barely managing to survive because the other guys made some stupid baserunning mistakes. Plus he was the beneficiary of two outstanding fielding plays that resulted in bang-bang double plays. And our lineup was smashing the shit out of the ball, so we were up by a score of ten to five. It should also be noted that if a reliever pitched three innings to close out a winning game, he’d get a save no matter what the final score was.


Super Fly

If you are not checking Craig Robinson’s Flip Flop Flyin’ on the reg…

…well, this is a reminder: peep, dont’ sleep.


New York Minute

Last night I was walking to the subway in midtown when I saw a woman wearing a Curtis Granderson jersey. Don’t see many of those, I thought as I approached her. I must say hello. She had her back to me and was standing on the corner. Next to her, another woman was looking at a subway map.

“You guys need help getting to Yankee Stadium?” I asked when I reached them.

The woman in the Granderson jersey raised her eyebrow and looked me suspiciouisly. The kind of “What-Do-You-Want-From-Me?” look that you only see from out-of-towners.

I told her I was a Yankee fan, not to worry, then helped them out. We talked about the team for a minute. She told me that she was Curtis Granderson’s sister. I told her how well-liked he was by Yankee fans and now the suspicion was gone and she smiled, big and beautiful. And then she and her friend went to the game.


Philip Humber mastered the Yankees tonight for seven superb innings and the White Sox won a brisk game 2-0. Humber huddled a no-hitter into the seventh before Alex Rodriguez bounced one through the box. AJ Burnett was almost as good, but on a night when each base was precious, the Yankees coughed up two bases too many and the White Sox turned those gifts into their margin of victory.

In the top of the fourth, when the game still shone with the promise of youth, Carlos Quentin led off with a hit. Curtis Granderson got a bad jump on the ball and misplayed a single into a double. Two groundouts plated the run, but the Yankees figured they had made the smart trade. In the top of the ninth, Alexei Ramirez led off by grazing a pop fly behind the mound. Rafael Soriano, in relief of the brilliant Burnett, assumed it had loft enough to reach the infielders and gave up on the play. Jeter was the closest to no-man’s land when the ball thudded to the grass, but the only play on the ball was Soriano’s. The White Sox pinch ran, stole second and got the timely hit to pad the lead. But on this night, that insurance run was surplus to requirements.

In the middle of the game, I got the eerie feeling that I had seen this before. As Philip Humber, making his sixth career start, put the Yanks down with ease, and AJ Burnett put in a strong yet futile effort in response, this game last year versus the Royals’ Bryan Bullington crept into focus. And lo, it came to pass. In the tough loss, AJ Burnett was really a pleasure to watch. The strikeouts were not there, but his control was excellent and his April has been a good one.

Humber spotted his fastball and then used his off-speed stuff generously, keeping the Yankees off balance and on the front-foot all night. The guy had a great game, but I think he’ll get clobbered the next time around, just like Bullington did. I put this mostly on New York’s offense not making the necessary adjustments to the slow-stuff. He did sneak a high fastball past Cano in a crucial at bat in the seventh to derail the Yankees best scoring chance, so give him credit for that.

At this point in the year, I can still feel OK about a game like this given how well AJ Burnett pitched. But with the Red Sox and Rays charging, games like this will probably be tougher to stomach in the very near future.

Nine Lives

Here kitty, kitty…

What does catwoman have to do with the slumping Chicago White Sox? You got me. I just wanted an excuse to post this picture.

Over at PB, Cliff has the series preview. Lo-Hud has the latest not-so-good news on Phil Hughes.

Here at the Banter, we root, root, root for the home team.

Never mind the Meow Mix, forget the rain: Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Christina Ricci by Gas Station]

Afternoon Art

Great Comic Book Covers Week…

…lifted from the most excellent, 1979 Semi-Finalist.

Bronx Zooish

Here’s a piece on Ian O’Connor’s new book on Derek Jeter. The book, due out next month, is sure to ruffle some feathers.

[Picture by Edi Weitz]

Up Against the Wall

Tonight on American Experience a documentary about the Stonewall uprising.

Watch the full episode. See more American Experience.

This looks terrific.

Hold it Now…Hit It

“Licensed to Ill” is 25 years old. Over at New York Magazine check out this oral history of the Beastie Boys’ first album:

Adam Horovitz: That year was basically Mike’s house during the day, writing lyrics, going to the club, going to the studio, going back to the club. We would write and write and write, then read the lyrics out loud to see who liked what. And that’s kind of how we’ve always done it since then. Rick had a drum machine, and I used to go to his dorm room and make beats. I made the beat for LL Cool J’s first single, “I Need a Beat.” I bought an 808 at Rogue Music [the Roland TR-808 was one of the first programmable drum machines] with some of the settlement money.

Mike Diamond: We would start with the music, and then Rick would clean it all up. Rick had the ability to make things sound legitimate and bigger, to make it sound like a record.

Rick Rubin: Each one had a strong personality. When we came up with rhymes, we tried to cast them for the right character and the right voice.

Horovitz: It just sort of happened. It wasn’t like, “Okay I’m going to be like Melle Mel, you’re Kool Moe Dee.”

Diamond: We never broke it down like, “Okay, I’m the baritone.”

Chuck Eddy, music writer (who did a notorious Beasties piece in 1987 for Creem): They were smart, arty Jewish kids from New York, and they created these white-trash burnout characters with the help of Rubin. And they pulled it off. ­

My Vinyl Weighs a Ton

Over at Buzzfeed, check out 40 sad portraits of closed record stores.

Beat of the Day

Well this is just silly fun.

Monday bounce babe.

What Stop For Did You Hey?

Dig this cool ass photo gallery of old New York over at Neat Stuff.

A Life of Reinvention

In the New Yorker, here’s David Remnick on a new Malcolm X biography:

For nearly twenty years, Manning Marable, a historian at Columbia, labored on what he hoped would be a definitive scholarly work on Malcolm X. During this period, Marable struggled with sarcoidosis, a pulmonary disease, and even underwent a double lung transplant. Recently, he completed his rigorous and evenhanded biography, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” (Viking; $30), but, in an echo of his subject’s fate, he died on the eve of publication. One of his goals was to grapple with Malcolm’s autobiography, and although he finds much to admire about Malcolm, he makes it clear that the book’s drama sometimes comes at the expense of fact. Haley wanted to write a “potboiler that would sell,” Marable observes, and Malcolm was accustomed to exaggerating his exploits—“the number of his burglaries, the amount of marijuana he sold to musicians, and the like.” Malcolm, like St. Augustine, embellished his sins in order to heighten the drama of his reform.

The literary urge outran the knowable facts even in the most crucial episode in Malcolm’s childhood. One evening, in 1931, in Lansing, Michigan, when Malcolm was six, his father, Earl Little, a part-time Garveyite teacher, went to collect “chicken money” from families who bought poultry from him. That night, he was found bleeding to death on the streetcar tracks. The authorities ruled his death an accident, but Malcolm’s mother, Louise, was sure he had been beaten by the Black Legion and laid on the tracks to be run over and killed. Perhaps he had been, but, as Marable notes, nobody knew for sure. The autobiography (and Lee’s film) presents the ostensible murder as established fact, and yet Malcolm himself, in a 1963 speech at Michigan State University, referred to the death as accidental.

[Photograph by Ricard Avedon]

I Don't Care if I Never Get Back

I went to Citifield yesterday. Dig these two on line at Shake Shack…

I was there with my two cousins and the wife. We had a great time (Shake Shack, Mets Win, Shake Shack)…

That’s us singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Older posts            Newer posts
feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver