"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Two Catchers in the Rye

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where the teams come from and what their lousy records are, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

I’ll tell you what bores the hell out of me, when a team has all of these good players on the roster, but then trots out a lineup made up of all the bad ones. Every team’s got bad players on it, I’m not saying they don’t. It’s just that when a team is really stacked, I mean when they’ve got hot-shots at just about every position, it’s really boring when those players just take a seat on the bench all afternoon. And the bad ones that play, you’d think they’d seize the opportunity and really show what they’ve got, but more often than not they just go out there and remind you of why they are on the bench in the first place.

Take Andruw Jones, the hot-shot in left field. He couldn’t catch the ball at all today, though I heard he used catch it like a madman. There used to be nobody better at catching the old pop-fly. I admit it. But not anymore. Now he’s the type of outfielder that looks up in the sky on a bright afternoon, gets confused and falls down. Goddamn house-money lineup. It always ends up making you blue as hell.

And that lineup’s not too gorgeous for this pitcher the Yankees have, a pitcher named Ivan Nova. He’s good and all, I’m not saying he’s bad. I’m really not.  But the thing about Nova is that he’s not good all the time. In fact, when you get right down to it, he’s only been very good a few times, but for some reason everybody thinks that’s the norm. If you ask me, I’d say he’s much more the mediocre type, not necessarily bad, but not as good as the phonies tend to give him credit for. All I know is he was lousy today, so mediocre would have been a substantial improvement. It really would.

Old Nova started things off with a bang. He really did. The Rangers had two runs on the board and the ice cubes in my drink hadn’t even started to melt yet. And I hate it when ice cubes melt too quickly. It’s quite a problem during day games. You’ve got this perfectly good drink in front of you, and then you look away for a second, just a quick look at the scoreboard, and sure enough the ice cubes are sweating. It doesn’t totally ruin the drink, I’m not saying that. But it certainly doesn’t do it any good.

Derek Holland, the pitcher for the Texas Rangers, must have been thrilled to see all those Yankee hot-shots sitting on the bench. Old Holland is the type of pitcher that’s actually quite talented but you’d never know it because he sucks so much. He really does. He’s the kind of guy that wears a phony mustache to make you think he’s a sophisticated Ivy League gentleman but what it winds up doing, you see, is making him look like a goddamn pervert. But if you actually watch him pitch, if you sit down and take the time to really watch him sling the old ball at the dish, you’d see he throws it in there quite hard. I have to admit.

I see a guy like Old Holland with all the talent in the world and a five-something ERA and it depresses the hell out of me. I get so down in the dumps I bust out crying right there at the goddamn computer.  It makes me think of these boys I know from the Yankees named Philip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. You never saw pitchers come up for the Yankees with talent like that, talent so obvious it was practically coming out of their socks. And it’s not like the Yankees never brought up any other pitchers. They did, all the time. But those pitchers, each one was the type of pitcher that’s always allowing first inning homers and then leaving you sitting in the can. What’s all that Yankee dough good for if you’re always bringing up pitchers that give up first-inning homers? Nothing, that’s what.

There he was, Old Holland, wearing that phony mustache in the middle of goddamn Yankee Stadium of all places and trying to sneak a fastball by Mark Teixeira in the sixth inning. And Mark Teixeira, mind you, he just wears Old Holland out like the back seat of a New York City taxi cab. He really does. Old Holland couldn’t get Teixeira out in a big spot if his life depended on him getting that out. But this time in the sixth inning, when Teixeira represented the tying run, what he did was he threw this slider in the dirt to a spot where Teixeira couldn’t get it – it damn near killed me when he threw it in that spot. It was actually quite tricky.

Old Holland must have been feeling pretty good about that slider in the dirt, maybe too good. Because you see what he did on the next pitch to that Andruw Jones, the hot-shot that fell down earlier, he laid one right down the middle. I mean right down goddamn Broadway. And Old Jones, you know he wasn’t feeling too good about falling down, so he must have been so relieved to just see this pitch coming right down the middle. He didn’t look confused on that pitch as he tied up the game at four. He really didn’t.

The goddamn game would have ended right there if it had any sense. But, of course it didn’t. It went on for three more innings. It went on long enough for all the bad feelings the Yankees erased in the sixth to become bad feelings again in the seventh. The worst part, the very worst part of the whole collapse is that pitcher I was telling you about before, Joba Chamberlain, came out with the game on the line and they needed him to be his old self, his old hot-shot self. The thing of it is, that guy is gone. This other guy that looks like the same guy but isn’t as good, he’s here to stay. And about the only way you can tell the difference is by looking at that scoreboard. That goddamn scoreboard just about kills me. It’s just depressing as hell.

See that’s what I don’t like about baseball. It’s depressing as hell. You’ve got a guy falling down in the outfield feeling down in the dumps about it. You’ve got the same guy tying the game with a homerun and feeling all warm and fuzzy. And then you’ve got the same guy coming up with a chance to re-take the lead and striking out and going down in the dumps again. Who wants to play a game that can rip you up like that? Nobody with any sense, that’s who.

A lot of people here, especially this one accountant, are asking me if the Yankees are going to win tomorrow when they start their series with the goddamn Red Sox. It’s such a stupid question. How are you supposed to know if they’re going to win a game before they play it? The answer is, you don’t.


1 Ara Just Fair   ~  Aug 16, 2012 3:54 pm

That, Mr. DeRosa, was superb.

2 Chyll Will   ~  Aug 16, 2012 4:27 pm

I hate that book a little bit less now because of that >;)

3 The Hawk   ~  Aug 16, 2012 6:06 pm

tip of the cap for that one

4 Evil Empire   ~  Aug 16, 2012 7:01 pm

I still hate the book "the catcher in the rye"

I still laugh when I hear the name of the porno catch her in the eye"

And I still enjoy great writing like this.

I think I read Salinger's book when I was too old to relate to it.

5 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Aug 16, 2012 7:53 pm


"Catcher.." I wonder how it would read to me today? Gave it to Mrs. Jazz to read and her reaction was "That's it? I don't get the fuss.." One of those "Ya had to be there" kind of books perhaps.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 16, 2012 7:54 pm

As I mentioned to Jon in an e-mail we'll be hard-pressed to write a game recap as inspired as this one, but at least we've now got something to which we can aspire.

7 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 16, 2012 8:04 pm

Thanks everybody, I had a ton of help though, with Girardi putting two catchers in the lineup today. That calls for an extra effort.

8 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 16, 2012 8:19 pm

[2] [4] & [5] All about when, where and how with this book. Not many can divide a room so neatly.

9 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 16, 2012 8:19 pm

[7] Jon, this was just so perfect. It captured exactly how I felt about the game, and Nova, and Joba, and everything. Thank you.

If its not too much of a peek behind the curtain, did you have this idea sitting in your back pocket and were you just waiting for the right moment? Or was it more of an in-game inspiration?

This might be favorite recap on the Banter ever, aside from the recap of Game 6 of the '09 Serious (for obvious reasons).

10 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 16, 2012 8:28 pm

Fantastic, Jon. I felt like I was listening to Old Holden. I mean right from the first sentence. And it's been a very long time. Now I want to read it again.

Actually, it was better than fantastic: sublime.

Where does Girardi come up with these line-ups anyway? It's almost like he's a Little League coach and he's trying to give everyone a chance to play.

11 Matt Blankman   ~  Aug 16, 2012 8:40 pm

Man, this made my day. Just fantastic, Jon.

12 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 16, 2012 8:54 pm

[9] I re-read the book this summer, first time since high school. Then when I knew I was going to do three recaps this week, I wanted to try something for change of pace. One thought I had while reading was what Holden do with the Internet? So I guess the idea came monday and was still playing around with how to do it Monday and Tuesday and then there were some fortunate events for Holden to complain about today.

For the record, I didn't mind the lineup so much. Heck even house money had a lead headed into the seventh.

13 knuckles   ~  Aug 16, 2012 10:15 pm

Holy fucking shit.

Getaway day, house money, already taken 3 of 4 and I didn't watch a second of it. Zactly the kinda game I don't care about in the least. Then yo go and write this...

14 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Aug 17, 2012 8:06 am

Brilliant, and more revealing than straight reporting. I've forgotten how much Catcher... and an old Jack Benny monologue are alike.

Thanks for the effort, I bet it was fun once you got rolling.

The Yanks tried to steal one with the "b" team so that everything is aligned for the weekend series with Boston. It's funny how teams strive to just win series and expect to lose a game. Fans want sweeps.

15 Capital Yank   ~  Aug 17, 2012 8:10 am

You, sir, made my goddamn Friday morning.

16 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 17, 2012 9:36 am

Good stuff, Jon!

17 Ben   ~  Aug 17, 2012 1:31 pm

I read this so early this morning, it wasn't until about halfway through that I realized what you were doing. It was pre-coffee! I was reading thinking, why the hell is Jon writing this like a 75 year old depressive New Englander from 1948? Ah. Then I got it. Shoulda read the title a little harder!

Thanks. Really funny once I got the joke!

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