"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: April 2011

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Fearless Freddy Flies Again

The Yankees and Orioles offered up an interesting game to fill an Easter afternoon on Sunday, but things got really interesting in the bottom of the ninth. Joba Chamberlain had stumbled a bit in the seventh, giving up a two-run home run to Mark Reynolds to narrow the Yankee lead to 3-2, but that one-run lead certainly seemed sufficient after Mariano Rivera came on with two outs in the eighth and (with help from a sparkling grab by Brett Gardner in left) doused a fire started by David Robertson.

Once Rivera got to the bottom of the ninth with that 3-2 lead, the outcome seemed certain. Even after Adam Jones worked a lead-off walk, any feelings of doubt were quickly assuaged as first Reynolds and then Matt Weiters were set down on strikes.

But then things got a bit slippery when Jake Fox singled to right, pushing the tying run into scoring position and bringing up Brian Roberts, who rocketed Mariano’s 33rd pitch of the afternoon into the right field corner, easily scoring Jones and giving pinch runner Robert Andino a better than average shot at plating the winning run. But Nick Swisher did a good job of digging the ball out and hitting the cutoff man, and Robinson Canó was able to nail Andino at home, preserving the tie and sending the game into extra innings.


Oodles of O's

Yanks look to get greedy today against the O’s.

Hope the egg hunt treated you well.

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Printresting via This Isn’t Happiness]

Sunday Boogie

Hipiddy Hop

Happy Easter, Peoples.

[Photograph: Bogdan Cristel/Reuters]

Sweet Tooth

The Yanks scored three runs in the first inning and Russell Martin added a three-run homer a little while later as C.C. Sabathia cruised through the Orioles hitters. The big lefty was in fine form, throwing hard, until the seventh when he gave up a three-run homer of his own. Just as I started to grumble about the possibility of Soriano and Rivera being needed, however, the Yanks got those runs back in the eighth when Jorge “Dinger or Bust” Posada went deep and Russell Martin hit his second home run.

On Martin: A good friend of mine who roots for the Dodgers tells me that Martin’s good run won’t last. If he’s correct I suspect that Martin will spontaneously combust like a Spinal Tap drummer come August 1st. In the meantime, it’s been a pleasure to watch the dude hit and field.

Oh, before the inning was over, Alex Rodriguez hit a grand slam, putting him one behind the Iron Horse for the most all-time. Yeah, and with six RBI tonight, he’s now 12th on the all-time RBI list.

In the 9th, Josh Rupe hit Martin in the upper back with a pitch. Dirty pool. Fortunately, Martin did not lose his cool though his teammates were riled plenty. And then sweet karma, Brett Gardner, the very definition of a banjo-hitter these days, cranked a two-run homer. It was retribution enough as the Yanks didn’t throw at Orioles in the bottom of the inning.

Love and happiness for the Yanks and their fans…

Final Score: Yanks 15, Orioles 3.

[Picture by Susumu Fujimoto]

Saturday Night…All Right?

Yanks-O’s, Take Two…

Grab a slice, settle in, stay warm and…

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Enter Light

The New York Times Book Review has a good piece on Alexandra Styron’s family memoir:

Rose Styron [William’s wife] emerges from this memoir as a good and heroic presence, erring only on the side of excessive tolerance. There is something touching in the picture of her following her husband to Martha’s Vineyard, having been “forbidden to show up before June,” with “a mountain of summer Martha’s Vineyard dresses poised on their hangers for another season’s whirl of festivities.” Before long, deprived not only of his temper but of all self-esteem, Styron would be pleading like a child to be spared the ordeal of appearing before guests at the dinner table.

“Avoiding my father’s wrath was a complicated business,” Alexandra writes. Her memoir is part of that process. William Styron’s illness may have prevented his making an appropriate response to her novel, “All the Finest Girls” (2001). Before then, however, she wrote some stories that he did read. “Dear Al,” he told her in a fax, “you really are a very good writer. More! More!” He got more — this is it — and he was right.

[Photograph by Saul Leiter]

What Flaw in the Iris?

Saturday Morning Splish

Yup, it’s still raining this morning. Yanks sent a pitcher down and called another up.

Listen to this…and spot the samples…

[Picture found at that most amazing spot–This Isn’t Happiness]

Rainout III: Son of Rainout

This is going to be one of those years, isn’t it? Where instead of spring, it just rains for months and then gets hot. Ah well: tonight’s Yankees-Orioles game is a no-go due to the inclement weather, the Yanks’ third rainout already in this young season, and their second with the Orioles. We’ve got some doubleheaders to look forward to down the road.

Meanwhile, I’m still all out of sorts about Bud Selig’s new expanded-playoffs plan. And I’m not a purist – I like the Wild Card, but ten playoff teams? One third of all teams making it to the postseason? I think that’s too many. Now, we don’t have details yet, so I will try to (try, not necessarily succeed) keep an open mind…. but it seems like a money-grab to me, rather than something that would improve baseball for most fans. We’ll see what the actual plan is when all’s said and done.

Better news: Francisco Cervelli is ready to play in rehab games. There’s nothing like a Gustavo Molina to make you appreciate your regular backup catcher, eh? Thing is, as of now, Molina’s only played in one single solitary Yankees game. If the team can somehow make it through Cervelli’s broken foot while using Molina only once, I will be impressed and amused. And I’m guessing Russell Martin will be tired.

Speaking of Russell Martin, the other day Brian Cashman talked about him:

“He’s the toughest Yankee,” Cashman said. “He’s as tough as nails.”

Is Martin the toughest Yankee? In a clubhouse that includes Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, who each have five World Series rings, has Martin already soared to the top on the tough-guy meter? According to Cashman, he’s soared even higher.

“He’s Thurman Munson-tough,” Cashman said.

Look… I like Russell Martin a lot. He’s been fantastic. I think he was a very smart addition to the team, and I don’t doubt that he’s plenty tough. However: “Thurman Munson-tough”? No. No, no, no, no, no. Nope. Come on.

[Photo from Old New York]

If you don't have good dreams, Bagel, you got nightmares

Yanks in Baltimore for the weekend, a perfect excuse to hip you guys to Mark Kram’s terrific piece on Baltimore, “A Wink at a Homely Girl” (Sports Illustrated, 1966):

A giant once, now a January sort of city even in summer, spring and autumn. An anonymous city even to those who live there, a city that draws a laugh even from Philadelphia, a sneer from Washington, with a hundred tag lines that draw neither smile nor sneer from the city. Baltimore: Nickel Town, Washington’s Brooklyn, A Loser’s Town, The Last Frontier, Yesterday Town.

“I’ll take a sleeping pill, just in case,” said a Briton, preparing to visit the city. “I want to make sure I can keep up with the pace.”

Over at PB, Cliff previews the weekend series.

We’ll be rootin’: Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Speak Memory

Here’s a lovely piece by Colum McCann, winner of the National Book Award in 2009 for his novel, “Let the Great World Spin”:

A London nursing home. The shape of a figure beneath the sheets. My grandfather could just about whisper. He wanted a cigarette and a glass of whiskey. “Come up on the bed here, young fella,” he said, gruffly. It was 1975 and I was 10 years old and it would be the first — and probably last — time I’d ever see him. Gangrene was taking him away. He reached for the bottle and managed to light a cigarette. Spittle collected at the edge of his mouth. He began talking, but most of the details of his life had already begun slipping away.

Long wars, short memories.

Later that afternoon my father and I bid goodbye to my grandfather, boarded a train, then took a night boat back home to Dublin. Nothing but ferry-whistle and stars and waves. Three years later, my grandfather died. He had been, for all intents and purposes, an old drunk who had abandoned his family and lived in exile. I did not go to the funeral. I still, to this day, don’t even know what country my grandfather is buried in, England or Ireland.

Sometimes one story can be enough for anyone: it suffices for a family, or a generation, or even a whole culture — but on occasion there are enormous holes in our histories, and we don’t know how to fill them.

[Photo Credit: Grant Howard]

Coast II Coast

Teddy Ted and E Nus of Pitchers n Poets had me on their podcast yesterday.

Check it out.

[Photo Credit: Wreckingballblog]

Beat of the Day

Coolin’ out…

Heaven Help Us

Lord have Mercy. Somebody help me say it ain’t so.

[photo credit: Polarn Per via This Isn’t Happiness]

Taster's Cherce

Dough! Oh My…DOUGH!

DOUGH Donuts: A Far Cry From The Old Fashioned from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Card Corner: Moose Skowron

Hard as it is to fathom, a full half-century has passed since the Yankees put together their storied season of 1961. Throughout 2011, I’ll pay tribute to the ‘61 Yankees by spotlighting some of their best and most interesting players on “Card Corner.” Today, we’ll begin at first base.

For me, Bill “Moose” Skowron has always been about mistaken assumptions. Perhaps that’s because I never saw Skowron play. I first learned about him while watching him make appearances at Old-Timers games during the 1970s. For some reason, I had always assumed that he was a left-handed hitter, if only because Yankee Stadium has always favored left-handed sluggers. So if Skowron was a slugger, then he must have been a lefty. (It’s funny how the mind of a seven-year-old works.) Not so, Skowron was right-handed all the way.

I also assumed that Skowron’s nickname had something to do with his power, his size, and his physical strength. The name Moose makes sense in that way, right? Little did I realize that the nickname was actually a shortening of the name “Mussolini.” When Skowron was a boy, his grandfather gave him an impromptu haircut, which made the youngster look too much like the Italian dictator. Skowron’s friends called him Mussolini; rather than take offense, the family responded by shortening the name to Moose. The new nickname would stick with Skowron throughout his career, even though Topps would refer to him as Bill on his baseball cards.

Impressing scouts with his power, Skowron signed with the Yankees in 1950. Originally an outfielder and third baseman, he then began a slow but fruitful climb up the organizational ladder, landing in the Bronx in 1954. By now a first baseman, he initially platooned with veteran Joe Collins, before becoming an everyday player by the late 1950s. Fitting in somewhere between Chris Chambliss and Lou Gehrig on the totem pole of Yankee first basemen, the free-swinging Skowron became a model of solid steadiness.

Skowron made five consecutive All-Star teams from 1957 to 1961, while averaging 20 home runs a year. He twice slugged better than .500, and twice earned American League MVP votes. With much of his power running from right to right-center field, he found the opposite-field power alley to his liking at Yankee Stadium. He didn’t walk much, but he gave the lefty-leaning Yankees some balance to their batting order. If there was a caveat in his game, it was his inability to avoid nagging and repeated injuries. Skowron had a physique wrapped in muscles, which he tended to pull and strain with annoying regularity. That’s why he usually played 120 to 130 games, instead of the requisite 140 to 150.


That's When Yer Lost

Here’s Mark Feinsand on the slumping Brett Gardner:

The Yankees may not be thinking about banishing Gardner to the bench, but his days in the leadoff spot are over for now.

“The last thing you want to do when you’re not swinging the bat well is to get the most at-bats on the team,” [hitting coach, Kevin] Long said. “It’s a smart move. He’s a smart kid, so he gets it. He doesn’t have to be happy about it, but at this point in time, it’s the best thing to do.”

…Long and Gardner watched video earlier this week and identified a flaw in his swing that the hitting coach believes will make a world of difference once it is corrected.

“He started to falter a little bit and he quit using his lower half,” Long said. “He started waving at the ball, and when you do that, your strike zone gets bigger. He’s more tentative than explosive to the ball. It all starts from the ground up. If that’s not working, it’s very difficult to hit.”

Hang in there, Slappy.

Wake Up Call

Betty Bacall…morning, Sunshine!

Clown Town

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