"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: April 2015

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Thirteen

The Yanks lost to the Rays 3-2 in thirteen innings today, and #13 was el-stinko, going hitless in six at bats, striking out four times and ending the game as the winning run by grounding into a double play. Egads, lock that game in a box and drown it. Alex… he’s come a long way, but he ain’t there yet.

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They had chances to win with a base hit in the 10th and 12th, but Didi Gregorius kept finding himself holding the bat in those spots and I’m not 100% certain he knows how to use that thing. Oh well, the Rays weren’t going to lose every game they play against the Yanks this season.

The Yankee bullpen, reprising it’s ongoing Winston Wolf impersonation, backed up a good-not-great Pineda with 7.3 spectacular innings. They struck out seven, and allowed only five baserunners (four of those in the last two innings by Shreve, one of which was an intentional walk). And the bullpen took the loss. Tough luck.

So the Yanks are stuck on thirteen wins, but still in first place for at least another day. Boston is only one game behind and that’s who’s on deck. Another series win would be sweet.

 

 

 

Ask It If It Can Pitch

Likely exhausted from the many, arduous takes of that omnipresent bobblehead commercial, Masahiro Tanaka is going to be out for a long time. The Yanks say he’ll sit on the shelf for at least a month, right next to the damn doll. Though it’s hard to guess the return date, the “forearm strain” is quite often the precursor to full-blown ligament replacement. Screw that! “Maybe only a month” is what I’m choosing to hear.

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That leaves it to Michael Pineda to slide up a day (he’s still on normal rest however, so it’s nothing crazy) and take the ball for this afternoon’s series finale. The Yankees have already taken the series from the Rays and sit on top of the AL East by two full games, so no matter what happens today, they’ll wake up tomorrow in first place. Wow, just wow to that notion.

But since we’re here anyway, maybe just win this one too?

(Today’s lineup via LoHud)

Jacoby Ellsbury CF

Chris Young LF

Alex Rodriguez DH

Mark Teixeira 1B

Carlos Beltran RF

Chase Headley 3B

John Ryan Murphy C

Gregorio Petit 2B

Didi Gregorius SS

 

(Photo by Charles Wenzelberg, Via NY Post)

Why Don’t You Stay Awhile?

Chase Whitley threw 75 innings for the 2014 Yankees. Huh. (File that to the long list of things that I missed about the 2014 Yankees.) The Yanks called on him for a spot start in May that turned into twelve. It’s happening again.

Called up for a spot start Tuesday, Whitley found himself in the rotation before throwing a pitch as Tanaka’s forearm injury will sideline him for a month. Whitley, for his part, didn’t make things awkward since he went out and pitched well into the sixth in another Yankee victory, 4-2, over the Rays. Those of you well-attuned to the 2014 club will also know the Yankees won eight of Whitley’s twelve starts last year and won’t be that surprised.

These Yanks, what’s the word for them? Versatile? I’m open to suggestion. They’ve won all kinds of ways thus far.

They’re at the top of the league in homers and doubles. But they’re not winning slugfests every night. And they keep tacking on runs throughout the game, as opposed to, you know, not scoring many runs at any time. They’re winning the tight ones where the Plan-A bullpen has to lock down four innings, like last night. Last night the Plan-A bullpen wasn’t even available and they plowed through the Rays just the same.

The only kind of game they haven’t won yet is that 1-0 or 2-1 starting pitcher duel. And sadly, when they win one of those, it probably won’t be their best pitcher on the hill. It’s a shame to lose Tanaka, but if there’s a less-surprising DL stint not involving Carl Pavano, I can’t recall it.

Step inside, Chase Whitley, step inside.

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(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson via ESPN.com)

I Said Everything’s Fine But I’m In A New York State Of Mind

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Tuesday night in the Bronx gives:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF

Brett Gardner LF

Mark Teixeira 1B

Brian McCann C

Carlos Beltran RF

Garrett Jones DH

Chase Headley 3B

Stephen Drew 2B

Didi Gregorius SS

Never mind the ‘staches:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Beat of the Day

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Hum along.

[Photo Credit: Flora Hanitijo via MPD]

New York Minute

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I’ve never been attracted to Chess. It’s too cerebral for me. I don’t have that kind of mind–or the attention span–for such a sophisticated game. But I love how many people dig it and never tire of seeing folks stop what they are doing to sit down and play a game.

Morning Art

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Milo Manara.

The Dirty-Lip Scrubby-Mustache Gang Rides Again

Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner

Ellsbury and Gardner–who looks like state trooper or a gay stripper, or maybe a gay stripper dressed like a state trooper–Teixeira, Drew, Betances, all of these guys, and probably some I’m missing, are growing mustaches. They are all in the early stages so it looks as if they’ve got dirt under their noses. (If Alex Rodriguez joins them, the Internet will explode, as the saying goes.)

But hey, you can’t mess with a streak and the Yanks won again, this time, 4-1, behind a nice start from Adam Warren and a beautiful job by the relievers. Betances, for those of you who were concerned about his slow start, seems to have regained his 2014 form.

[Photo Credit: AP]

I Hope Carlos Beltran Has a Good Game Tonight

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The Yanks played well in Tampa. Tonight, the Rays come to town for the first time this year.

It’s the Warren Report featuring:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF

Brett Gardner LF

Alex Rodriguez 3B

Mark Teixeira 1B

Brian McCann C

Carlos Beltran DH

Chris Young RF

Stephen Drew 2B

Didi Gregorius SS

Will be watching Didi with special interest–I’m rooting for the guy, I feel for him, especially in the field where he seems all screwed up. I just hope he can ride it out because he should be better than this and he will be better than this. It’s not easy following Jeter, you know?

I know Beltran has sucked but I hope he stops sucking any day now. It’s bound to happen.

Hey, never mind the kvetchin’:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Afternoon Art

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“Standing Nude” by Elmer Bischoff

Taster’s Cherce

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Yes, please.

 

Beat of the Day

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Things and Stuff…

[Image Via: Illicit Writer]

BGS: Buster Keaton

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A few days ago I curated the following essay by Charles Simic on Buster Keaton over at the Daily Beast. Check it out, won’t you?

Comedy is about timing, faultless timing. It’s not so much what the story is about, but the way it is told, with its twists and surprises, that makes it humorous. Keaton draws a hook with chalk on the wall and hangs his coat on it. A brat in the theater drops his half-sucked lollipop from the balcony on an elegant lady in a box who picks it up and uses it as a lorgnette. The hangman uses a blindfold intended for the victim to polish the medal on his jacket. The shorts, especially, are full of such wild inventions. No other silent-film comic star was as ingenious.

Among hundreds of examples from Keaton’s films, one of my favorites comes from the short Cops. At the annual New York City policemen’s parade, Buster and his horse and wagon find themselves in the midst of the marching cops. Buster wants to light a cigarette, and is searching his pockets for matches, when a bomb thrown by an anarchist from a rooftop lands next to him on the seat with its short fuse already sizzling. There’s a pause, “an inspiring pause,” as Twain says, building itself to a deep hush. When it has reached its proper duration, Buster picks up the bomb absentmindedly, lights his cigarette with it as if this were the most normal thing to do, and throws it back over his head.

The short Cops is paradigmatic Keaton. Again, the plot is simplicity itself. In the opening scene we see Buster behind bars. The bars turn out to belong to the garden gate of the house of a girl he is in love with. “I won’t marry you till you become a businessman,” she tells him. Off he goes, through a series of adventures, first with a fat police detective in a rush to grab a taxi, the contents of whose wallet end up in Buster’s hands. Next, he is conned by a stranger who sells him a load of furniture on the sidewalk, pretending he is a starving man being evicted. The actual owner of the furniture and his family are simply moving to another location. When Buster starts to load the goods into the wagon he has just bought, the owner mistakes him for the moving man they’ve been expecting. His trip across town through the busy traffic culminates when he finds himself at the head of the police parade passing the flag-draped reviewing stand where the chief of police, the mayor, and the young woman he met at the garden gate are watching in astonishment. Still, the crowd is cheering, and he thinks it’s for him. After he tosses the anarchist’s bomb and it explodes, all hell breaks loose. “Get some cops to protect our policemen,” the mayor orders the chief of police. People run for cover, the streets empty, the entire police force takes after the diminutive hero.

What an irony! Starting with love and his desire to better himself and impress the girl he adores, all he gets in return is endless trouble. It’s the comic asymmetry between his extravagant hope and the outcome that makes the plot here. The early part of the movie, with its quick shuffle of gags, gives the misleading impression of a series of small triumphs over unfavorable circumstances. Just when Buster thinks he has his bad luck finally conquered, disaster strikes again. The full force of law and order, as it were, descends on his head. Innocent as he is, he is being pursued by hundreds of policemen. Whatever he attempts to do, all his stunts and clever evasions, come to nothing because he cannot outrun his destiny. After a long chase, he ends up, unwittingly, at the very door of a police precinct. The cops are converging on him from all sides like angry hornets, blurring the entrance in their frenzy to lay their nightsticks on him, but incredibly Buster crawls between the legs of the last cop, he himself now dressed in a policeman’s uniform. Suddenly alone on the street, he pulls a key out of his pocket, locks the precinct’s door from the outside, and throws the key into a nearby trashcan. At that moment, the girl he is smitten with struts by. He looks soulfully at her, but she lifts her nose even higher and walks on. Buster hesitates for a moment, then goes to the trashcan and retrieves the key. “No guise can protect him now that his heart has been trampled on,” Gabriella Oldham says in her magnificent study of Keaton’s shorts. At the end of the film, we see him unlocking the door and being pulled by hundreds of policemen’s hands into the darkness of the building.

What makes Keaton unforgettable is the composure and dignity he maintains in the face of what amounts to a deluge of misfortune in this and his other films. It’s more than anyone can bear, we think. Still, since it’s the American Dream Buster is pursuing, we anticipate a happy ending, or at least the hero having the last laugh. That’s rarely the case. Keaton’s films, despite their laughs, have a melancholy air. When a lone tombstone with Buster’s porkpie hat resting on it accompanies the end in Cops, we are disconcerted. The images of him running down the wide, empty avenue, of his feeble attempt to disguise himself by holding his clip-on tie under his nose to simulate a mustache and goatee, are equally poignant. Let’s see if we can make our fate laugh, is his hope. Comedy at such a high level says more about the predicament of the ordinary individual in the world than tragedy does. If you seek true seriousness and you suspect that it is inseparable from laughter, then Buster Keaton ought to be your favorite philosopher.

Double Your Pleasure

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Remember when Michael Kay used to love trotting out that old nursery rhyme, the one about the little girl with the curl? It seemed that every time A.J. Burnett took the mound, Kay would introduce him with a twist on those lines. “When he is good, he is very, very good, but when he is bad, he is awful.” Well, A.J. Burnett is long gone, but in his place we have Nathan Eovaldi, a young pitcher also in possession of an electric arsenal, but also tantalizingly inconsistent.

He opened the game in rather shaky form, yielding a leadoff homer to Curtis Granderson and then a double to Daniel Murphy to score another run, spotting the Mets a 2-0 lead over the Yankees in the third gave of the season’s first Subway Series.

But Alex Rodríguez split that deficit in half when he bounced a solo home run off the top of the wall in right center field in the bottom of the first. It was A-Rod’s 659th career home run, one shy of Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list, and the Yankee front office buried their heads in the sand just as Rodríguez rounded third. If they don’t see him hit the home runs, it will be as if he hasn’t hit them. Brian Cashman and the Yankees went down to the crossroads with A-Rod to sign that incentive-laden contract, hoping to capitalize on his march up the all-time home run list, but now that it’s finally happening, they’re hoping to wash their hands of the whole thing. You know. Because they thought he was clean the whole time and were shocked – shocked! — to find out there was something fishy going on.

They say they can’t market this chase, but they know they can. They need only look back to the Barry Bonds Love Fest to see that home town fans will always cheer their heroes. The truth is that they don’t like the contract they forced themselves into offering him seven years ago, and now they don’t want to pay their Six Million Dollar Man. Perhaps they’ll figure it out by the time he catches up to the Babe in 2016.

But back to our game. Eovaldi returned to the mound in the second inning and tucked the curl back underneath his cap. He dispatched the Mets on twelve pitches, retiring the final two hitters on strikes (he’d also strike out the first two batters of the third), reminding us why it’s always foolish to give up on a 25-year-old who can throw 98 miles per hour.

It was in the bottom of the second that the parade of doubles began when John Ryan Murphy ripped a line drive down the left field line with one out. Then with two outs, someone named Gregorio Petit (I still can’t convince myself that Gregorio Petit plays second base for the New York Yankees) doubled to left scoring Murphy. Then Brett Gardner doubled to right to score Petit. After Chris Young squirted a single into shallow right to score Gardner, Rodríguez rifled the fourth Yankee double of the inning into the left field corner, scoring Young and giving New York a 5-2 lead.

After Eovaldi opened the third with the double strikeout mentioned above, he started giving up doubles of his own, one to Michael Cuddyer and another to Daniel Murphy, each scoring a run and cutting the Yankee lead to 5-4. The Yankees picked up another run in the fifth to make it 6-4, and then things got late in a hurry for the Mets.

Eovaldi was pulled with one out in the fifth, leaving 14 outs for the Yankee bullpen, but they were nearly flawless over those final four and two-thirds. Chasen Shreve took up the baton first, and he hit Lucas Duda with his first pitch. No matter. Three pitchers later Cuddyer bounced into an easy 4-6-3 to end the inning. Shreve started the sixth by walking Murphy, but that didn’t matter either. Chris Martin came in to get five easy outs before giving way to Justin Wilson, who got the final batter in the seventh.

The game was essentially over at that point, because all that remained was the double-headed monster at the back end of the Yankee bullpen. Dellin Betances needed just 11 pitches to strike out three Mets in the eighth, but the inning continued because that eleventh pitch, a wicked curve ball to Cuddyer, bounced to the backstop after the swing and miss, allowing Cuddyer to reach first. I was rooting hard for the 4K inning, but Murphy tapped out harmlessly to second to end the frame. How good has Betances been in the Subway Series in his short career? The Mets are 0 for 9 with eight strikeouts. Not bad.

Next in line was Andrew Miller. He plunked Wilmer Flores with one out but then got the next two to send everyone home. Yankees 6, Mets 4.

So both the Yankees and the Mets leave this series as they entered, in first place in their respective divisions. That’s good for the Mets, I suppose, but I’m more interested in what it might mean for the Yankees. Last year every single question mark heading to the season turned into an ellipses. Could it be that this year’s questions might become exclamation points? Sure, it’s only been 19 games, but Mark Teixeira! Alex Rodríguez! Michael Pineda! Andrew Miller! Things are certainly looking better than most expected.

Sunday Night in Spring

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Okay, so Matt Harvey was great, we expected that. Now to see about winning this series. Eovaldi goes against Jonathan Niese tonight on ESPN.

Gardner LF
Young CF
Rodriguez DH
Teixeira 1B
Beltran RF
Headley 3B
Murphy C
Drew SS
Petit 2B

Never mind your bed time:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags. 

These Games Happen

dropped-ice-cream-blueWell, what can you say, what can you do… it’s just too bad, you go in feeling good about things, hoping to keep the ball rolling and the good feelings alive, fingers crossed  and splat! right on the floor.  You were hoping it wouldn’t happen, knew it probably would, but you weren’t gonna say anything and whfpp!, there it went. Ah well, just shake your head, take a deep breath and start over.  It’s a long season, folks, and no matter what anyone tells you, you can’t win a championship in April, and it’s pretty darn hard to lose one in April, too (though some have come close).  Matt Harvey, currently one of the best young starters in the biz, held it down for his Queens crew and the Bronx posse wasn’t up for much this afternoon after making a strong statement the day before.  Take this any way you like; the upstart new kid taking a heavy jab to the face and coming back with a strong uppercut of his own to the worn out former champ, or two dogs fighting over a choice scrap or just two teams feeling each other out for the start of a season with long term implications for both franchises that may determine which direction each one is heading.

All that most of you probably saw was a guy with a lot of heat, a heavy change-up and a lot of kinetic energy mowing down another team with an identity crisis.  C.C.; thick or thin, came up little in this start after losing one that sparked talk of his old self possibly making a comeback.  The Mets bats were louder than the Yanks’ today; Harvey played with A-Rod like an Easter egg on a Sunday morning and aside from a couple of who-cares runs, it wasn’t really worth talking about from a Bronx perspective (now if you’re a Queens fan, you’re probably rocking out to “Whaddayasayta Dat!” and “Yeah, But The Mets Tho…”; yeah, rock on, it’s all good…)

But hey, $#@% happens sometimes, and like whipped cream in a Yodel you just have to roll with it. We don’t know where this team is gonna go one day to the next at this point, so let’s not jump to any conclusions just yet.  Alex has surprised the heck out of everyone so far, that’s a plus. Pineda’s been an ace, that’s good too. Tanaka’s arm hasn’t turned into Rice Krispies yet while giving quality starts, that’s something to breathe in and out about.  And not for nothing, the Mets being a better-than-anyone-in-their-right-mind-thought team out the gate is good for these series, especially if these two can actually trade punches with each other throughout the whole season.  Only time will tell.  In the meantime put down the paper, turn off the radio, and what the heck/just clean up the mess…

Photo Credit: Secret Escapes

Enter Light

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I expect Matt Harvey to pitch his best game of the year today. Only hope C.C. can come close to matching him and the Yanks squeeze out a “W”.

Never mind the late afternoon spring light:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Saturdazed Soul

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This here’s a good one:

[Photo Credit: Lucyna Kolendo via MPD]

This One Ends at Eleven

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Jacob deGrom had his first lousy start of the year while Michael Pineda had his best one as the Yankees cruised past the Mets, 6-1 on Friday night in the Bronx.

Cold night, windy, with a healthy representation of noisy Met fans in the park. Mark Teixeira hit a pair of two-run homers off deGrom, and Jacoby Ellsbury added a solo home run. Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Brian McCann each had a couple of hits, more than enough for Pineda who was in control from the beginning. He lasted seven and two-thirds, allowed five hits, struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter.

Pineda was a strike-throwing machine, and strutted around the mound with the leisurely, casual arrogance of a well-hung bull in a pasture. It was a shutdown performance, just what the Yankees needed, especially with the Mets’ ace, Matt Harvey going tomorrow.

A satisfying evening for the home team.

Thank you, fellas.

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